The Future of the ANC

Artist Paul Blomkamp’s portrait of Mandela that was painted to celebrate his 95th birthday

Artist Paul Blomkamp’s portrait of Mandela that was painted to celebrate his 95th birthday

With the recent news of Nelson Mandela’s death, I’ve been thinking a lot about the friends I made while I was in South Africa and what he may have meant to them, and to their country as a whole.  I can’t claim any true understanding of their perception of him as a leader and political figure; opinions are opinions, after all.  However, during this time, I’ve begun wondering what his passing will mean for his political party, and perhaps more importantly where his political party stands in the country these days.

The African National Congress is the current governing party of the nation, and it has been since winning the first democratic elections in 1994.  They’ve been able to remain in power due to the most basic principle of democracy – they represent the majority of South African citizens’ interests. There were a lot of promises of equality and prosperity made at the time the ANC took the reigns, including an incredible Constitution that, according to Ian Millhiser at Think Progress, we have a lot to learn from.  There are 32 articles relating to individual rights in the Constitution and the ANC’s message was that they would bring equality to all, however long the process may take.

photo by Nicolene Olckers courtesy of

Current president of the ANC Jacob Zuma was booed at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Photo by Nicolene Olckers courtesy of

It’s been a difficult 20 years since the ANC took power, and as you may guess, there are mixed opinions everywhere about what Mandela’s death means to the party. Does his death mean that the ANC will dissolve into different factions? Was he the thread binding them together? How will they handle Mandela’s legacy in upcoming elections?

I’m interested to see where this goes in the future.  Surely, Mandela’s legacy will perpetually remind the ANC and the people of South Africa of how they want to live and what they want for their country.  In fact, I feel certain we’ll all remember his legacy, and I hope that people use the ideals he set for his country to guide them going forward.

 By Julia Bates

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