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African National Congress
AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
SOUTH AFRICA'S NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT
The African National Congress
The ANC is a national liberation movement. It was formed in 1912 to unite the African people and spearhead the struggle for fundamental political, social and economic change.
The ANC's key objective is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.
This means the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.
The Tripartite Alliance
The ANC is in an alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Each Alliance partner is an independent organisation with its own constitution, membership and programmes. The Alliance is founded on a common commitment to the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution, and the need to unite the largest possible cross-section of South Africans behind these objectives.
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Affirmative Action and the New Constitution
1. Why we need Affirmative Action
There's an old saying: one person's meat is another person's poison. So it is with affirmative action. For millions of South Africans affirmative action means advance to a better life, a long overdue chance to come into their own and start enjoying the good things the country has to offer. For others, particularly those leading comfortable lives today, it signifies a new form of discrimination and injustice, a vengeful form of juggling around with race quotas so as to threaten their livelihoods and security.
We see this as a false choice. If well handled, affirmative action will help bind the nation together and produce benefits for everyone. If badly managed, it will simply re-distribute resentment, damage the economy and destroy social peace. If not undertaken at all, the country will remain backward and divided at its heart.
The question is not whether or not to have affirmative action. Have it we must, and in a deep and meaningful way. The issue is how best to handle affirmative action, how to ensure that it is conducted in a principled and effective manner.
We reject the idea of anything in the new democratic South Africa being meat for some and poison for others. That was what apartheid was all about. Our whole approach is that what is good for the majority can and should be good for the minority as well, depending on the involvement of both in the process. The whole country - rich and poor, black and white - wants peace, prosperity, progress and justice. Our country is rich enough to ensure not meat for some, poison for others, but fair nourishment for all.
It was the ANC who put affirmative action on the agenda. The time was the middle 1980's, the context preparation for change. One of the toughest questions facing the Constitution Committee, formed under the leadership of Oliver Tambo, was how to deal with the enormous inequalities created by apartheid.
Two options were being urged upon us. The one was to adopt a Constitution and Bill of Rights that would scrap apartheid laws, but establish the constitution as a Chinese wall against any attempt to alter the social and economic status quo.
The other and opposite option was simply to require the new government to confiscate the spoils of apartheid and share them out amongst those who had been dispossessed. While this approach had the immediate attraction of correcting historic injustice, it could not be...
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