The Evolution of the African National Congress in Power: From Revolutionaries to Social Democrats?

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African Studies | International and Area Studies | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This research on the African National Congress (ANC) is done in the context of the question of what happens when a revolutionary, rebel movement succeeds in taking state power. It is now 12 years since 1994, when, as the result of national elections negotiated with the former National Party (NP) rulers, the ANC took the reins of governmental power. The analysis will place the challenges of the ANC in the context of rebel movements in Latin America that have taken power. Several theoretical questions will be addressed. First, when a revolutionary movement gains power what are the terms of its arrival at power? Is the old order thoroughly defeated or does it retain power in certain sectors? Second, what is the international context of the transition? Does the revolutionary movement have powerful friends or enemies? Third, what is the level of unity within the revolutionary movement? Are there factions with different approaches to the construction of a new society? Fourth, how well does the revolutionary movement, forged in part in clandestine operations, transform itself to democratic norms? Fifth, does the revolutionary movement have sufficient expertise to manage state power? How willing is it to use professionals from the old system and by what means does it control them? Sixth, how flexible is the revolutionary movement in adjusting to a changed environment? Does it alter its ideological stance and if it does what are the dangers to the movement if it strays too far from its long-stated principles?