Briefing Paper

Africanism on the march: old ideas, new directions

This brief report describes the revival of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania at a recent Consultative Conference in Harare where the organisation’s leadership held talks with delegates from inside South Africa. The conference is partly a consequence of the growth of the PAC and its role in South African, and partly a response to recent developments inside the country. Evidence suggests that the renewed international interest in the PAC and Africanism is related to the revival of the PAC.

Unlike ANC meetings, which have been characterised by dissenting opinion, particularly on the issues of armed struggle and sanctions, the PAC conference adopted a final statement which reiterated that armed struggle would continue and called on the international community to impose mandatory sanctions against South Africa. While the ANC attempts to reconcile divergent views, the Africanists, with a smaller constituency, display a greater degree of unity.

Four issues dominated the proceedings: negotiations, unity, commitment to the armed struggle, and internal mobilisation. In conclusion, the PAC will probably continue to play second fiddle in the liberation struggle in South Africa, trailing the ANC in terms of mass support, resources and acceptance as an authentic voice of the people. However, developments in South Africa could test the ANC’s support base, especially if the organisation is perceived to be conceding too much too quickly, and the PAC may benefit from this situation.