Pan Africanist Congress of Azania

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, often shortened to the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), is a South African pan-Africanist national liberation movement that is now a political party. It was founded by an Africanist group, led by Robert Sobukwe, that broke away from the African National Congress (ANC) in 1959, as the PAC objected to the ANC's theory that "the land belongs to all who live in it both white and black" and also rejected a multiracialist worldview, instead advocating a South Africa based on African nationalism.[3][4]

Pan Africanist Congress of Azania
PresidentMzwanele Nyhontso
Secretary-GeneralApa Pooe
DeputyLunga Mantashe
FounderRobert Mangaliso Sobukwe
Founded6 April 1959 (1959-04-06)
Split fromAfrican National Congress
HeadquartersKhotso House, 7th Floor, Office 725-731, 62 Marshal Street Johannesburg, Gauteng[1]
Student wingPan Africanist Student Movement of Azania
Youth wingPan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania
Women's wingPan Africanist Women's Organisation
Paramilitary wingAzanian People's Liberation Army (POQO) (formerly) (integrated into SANDF)
High school wingPan Africanist Student Organization (PASO)
Pupil wingPan Africanist Student Organization (PASO)
IdeologyBlack nationalism
African socialism[2]
Colours  Black
SloganIzwe Lethu!!
Our Land!!
National Assembly
1 / 400
National Council of Provinces
0 / 90
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5
Cape Town City Council
1 / 231
Party flag


Share of PAC votes per district in the 1994 election

The PAC was formally launched on 6 April 1959 at Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto. A number of African National Congress (ANC) members broke away because they objected to the substitution of the 1949 Programme of Action with the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955, which used multiracialist language as opposed to Africanist affirmations. The PAC at the time considered South Africa to be an African state by right an "inalienable right of the indigenous African people" and refused to support equal rights of the oppressed and oppressor, exploiter and exploited, the land dispossessor and landless Africans - "the dispossessed". They insisted that the Historic Mission of the PAC of The People of Azania is "The complete freedom, liberation and independence of Afrika." This entails political, social, economic and military independence. Robert Sobukwe was elected as the first president, and Potlako Leballo as the Secretary General.[5][6][7][2]

On 21 March 1960, the PAC organised a campaign against pass laws. People gathered in the townships of Sharpeville and Langa where Sobukwe and other top leaders were arrested and later convicted for incitement. Sobukwe was sentenced to three years and Potlako Leballo to two years in prison. Sobukwe died in Kimberley, Cape Province, 1978 of lung cancer. Immediately after the Sharpeville massacre the National Party Government banned both the ANC and PAC on 8 April 1960. The PAC responded by founding its armed wing, the Azanian People's Liberation Army.



The PAC followed the idea that the South African Government should be constituted by the African people owing their allegiance only to Africa, as stated by Sobukwe in the inaugural speech of the PAC:

"We aim, politically, at government of the Africans by the Africans, for the Africans, with everybody who owes his only loyalty to Africa and who is prepared to accept the democratic rule of an African majority being regarded as an African."[8]

It is Pan Africanism with three principles of African nationalism, socialism, and continental unity. Its body of ideas drew largely from the teachings of Anton Lembede, George Padmore, Marcus Garvey, Martin Delany, Kwame Nkrumah, and W. E. B. Du Bois.

The PAC initially advocated for a form of "Africanist Socialist Democracy", based on African and Black Identity, with the aim of creating a South Africa (which they would rename Azania) for Black South Africans, to the exclusion of other nationalities or ethnicities.[3][9] Unlike the African National Congress' view on socialism, the PAC was stated to have rejected the concept of class oppression, instead focusing exclusively on national liberation.[9] Nevertheless, their initial manifesto lists the "black working class" as the "driving force in the struggle" against white capitalists and "reactionary" middle-class groups. These socialist elements were strongly toned down by the 1990s, instead adopting a more "conservative" stance that sought not to restrict market forces and a commitment not to implement socialism "for the sake of it". The Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania described the new program as the "work of an element which is on the CIA payroll".[10] However, by April 1992, the PAC's party leadership in the Annual Congress no longer showed opposition to taking part in the multiracial negotiations to end the apartheid.[11]

The PAC historically rejected Marxism, opposed communism (though it itself had borrowed from some Maoist tenets) and the inclusion of ethnic minorities within the liberation struggle, instead advocating black liberation exclusively within a Black nationalist concept.[5][6][7][2]

Leadership struggles


The PAC has been beset by infighting and has had numerous changes of leadership since its transition to a political party. In 1996, Clarence Makwetu, who led the party in the 1994 elections, was removed on the basis of "bringing the party into disrepute".[12]

In August 2013, the PAC elected Alton Mphethi as president, after previous leader Letlapa Mphahlele was expelled in May amidst allegations of attempting to cause division in the party, financial impropriety and poor quality leadership.[13][14]

A faction of the PAC continued to regard Mphahlele as leader. The matter was resolved in the courts, with Mpheti eventually being confirmed as party leader for the 2014 election.[15][16]

Mpheti has since been charged with murder for the death of a Swazi national, Mthunzi Mavundla,[17] and sentenced for R3 million school transport fraud.[18]

Luthando Mbinda was elected president at the 2014 congress in Botshabelo, while Letlapa Mphahlele was elected in July 2015 in Manguang. Mbinda claimed that Mphahlele's election was not valid, as he was not a valid member, while Mphahlele challenged his expulsion in court.

The Independent Electoral Commission suspended the party's statutory fund’s allocations until there was clarity about who led the party, and in October 2015 the high court confirmed that Mbinda was the recognised leader.[19][20]

Conflict then arose between Mbinda and Chief Executive Officer Narius Moloto. Mbinda was subsequently charged by the PAC and later expelled for bringing the organisation into disrepute. Narius Moloto was elected party leader in December 2017.[21][22]

Infighting continued after the 2019 elections, with leader Narius Moloto unilaterally dissolving the party's structures, a decision which was later set aside by the courts.[23]

In August 2019, in Limpopo, one faction elected Moloto as leader, while a week later in Bloemfontein, another faction elected Mzwanele Nyhontso as leader. In October 2019, the Independent Electoral Commission recognised Nyhontso as the legitimate party leader.[24]

In November 2020, speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise received notice that the PAC had expelled Nyhontso, and notified him that he had therefore lost his seat in parliament as the PAC's sole representative.[25] The opposing faction got a court order in December 2020 to reinstate Nyhontso, pending a court order challenging his removal from the party.[26]

In August 2021, the court confirmed that Moloto's election was invalid, confirming Nyhontso as president, and in September 2021 Nyhontso was again sworn in as the party's sole MP.[27][28]

Election results


National elections

Election Total votes Share of vote Seats +/– Government
1994 243,478 1.25%
5 / 400
in opposition
1999 113,125 0.78%
3 / 400
  2 in opposition
2004 113,512 0.73%
3 / 400
  ±0 in opposition
2009 48,530 0.27%
1 / 400
  2 in opposition
2014 37,784 0.21%
1 / 400
  ±0 in opposition
2019 32,677 0.19%
1 / 400
  ±0 in opposition
2024 36,716 [Note 1]0.23%
1 / 400
  ±0 in opposition

  1. ^ From 2024, seats in the National Assembly are determined by a combination of the national ballot, and the nine regional ballots. Only the national ballot figures are shown here.

Provincial elections

Election[29] Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
% Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats
1994 2.04% 1/56 1.81% 0/30 1.47% 1/86 0.73% 1/81 1.27% 1/40 1.63% 0/30 1.73% 0/30 0.93% 0/30 1.06% 0/42
1999 1.14% 1/63 1.15% 0/30 0.73% 0/73 0.26% 0/80 1.41% 1/49 0.66% 0/30 0.74% 0/33 0.66% 0/30 0.49% 0/42
2004 1.00% 1/63 1.18% 0/30 0.85% 1/73 0.19% 0/80 0.94% 0/49 0.69% 0/30 0.84% 0/33 0.43% 0/30 0.42% 0/42
2009 0.54% 0/63 0.33% 0/30 0.31% 0/73 0.07% 0/80 0.53% 0/49 0.32% 0/30 0.26% 0/33 0.22% 0/30 0.23% 0/42
2014 0.44% 0/63 0.21% 0/30 0.26% 0/73 0.08% 0/80 0.29% 0/49 0.23% 0/30 0.14% 0/33 0.11% 0/30 0.17% 0/42
2019 0.41% 0/63 0.17% 0/30 0.24% 0/73 0.07% 0/80 0.17% 0/49 0.14% 0/30 0.11% 0/33 0.11% 0/30 0.19% 0/42
2024[30] 0.51% 0/73 0.24% 0/30 0.29% 0/80 0.11% 0/80 0.24% 0/64 0.16% 0/51 0.15% 0/38 0.16% 0/30 0.31% 0/42

Municipal elections

Election Votes %
1995–96 104,455 1.2%
2000 1.2%
2006 306,747 1.2%
2011 118,822 0.4%
2016[31] 74,607 0.19%

See also



  1. ^ Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. "Contacts". Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "South Africa – Political Parties". Retrieved 15 June 2020. ...1959 prompted a split by black nationalists from the ANC to form the militant Africanist, anticommunist PAC." ... "The PAC also opposed the ANC's alliance with the SACP because most PAC leaders rejected Marxist economic dogma.
  3. ^ a b "Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) (South African organization)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  4. ^ Why the PAC wants South Africa renamed Azania
  5. ^ a b "Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania | South African organization". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Pan Africanist Congress Of Azania (PAC) – The O'Malley Archives". Retrieved 15 June 2020. They feared that the liberation struggle would be taken over by white and Indian communists and rejected the aspects of the Freedom Charter* that protected minority interests rather than those of Africans throughout the continent.
  7. ^ a b "Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) | South African History Online". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Robert Sobukwe Inaugural Speech, April 1959". South African History Online – Towards a People's History. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b Fatton, Robert (1986). Black Consciousness in South Africa: The Dialectics of Ideological Resistance to White Supremacy SUNY Series in African Politics and Society (PDF). State University of New York Press. ISBN 9780887061295.
  10. ^ "Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) – The O'Malley Archives". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Pan Africanist Congress timeline 1959–2011". South African History Online. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  12. ^ "SA has moved backwards, says PAC stalwart Makwetu". Mail and Guardian. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  13. ^ Ntokozo Sindane (11 August 2013). "PAC Announces New Party President". The Public News Hub. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  14. ^ "PAC to plot a new path". The Citizen. 9 June 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  15. ^ "PAC hits campaign trail after leadership fight ends". Herald Live. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  17. ^ "I lied about murder to protect my wife's dignity – Alton Mphethi". City Press. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  18. ^ Makhafola, Getrude. "Former PAC leader Alton Mphethi sentenced for R3 million school transport fraud". News24. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  19. ^ Marianne Merten (10 July 2015). "PAC court bid to get its IEC funding". Independent Online. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  20. ^ "High Court Ruling". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  21. ^ Naki, Eric (28 April 2017). "Mbinda, Moloto war threatening to tear PAC apart".
  22. ^ Motau, Koketšo. "PAC elects Narius Moloto as new party president".
  23. ^ Ntshidi, Edwin. "PAC leader Narius Moloto dismisses suspension reports". Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  24. ^ "PAC re-elects Mzwanele Nyhontso as president". SABC News. 1 September 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  25. ^ Toit, Christelle du (28 November 2020). "PAC's sole MP loses his seat in Parliament". The Citizen. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Western Cape High Court Orders Reinstatement of PAC MP – Parliament of South Africa". Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  27. ^ "Mzwanele Nyhontso declared PAC's lawful leader". The Citizen. 23 August 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Return of PAC's voice: New president swearing in a victory for embattled party". The Citizen. 4 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  29. ^ "Results Dashboard". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  30. ^ "NPE Results Dashboard 2024". Retrieved 11 June 2024.
  31. ^ "Results Summary – All Ballots" (PDF). Retrieved 11 August 2016.