The Republic of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), celebrated on January 8, 2012  its 100th anniversary, in a major national and international event commemorating the achievements of a people and its inspired leadership. Founded in Bloemfontein in 1912, the movement had modest beginnings, but soon harvested continued support in its aim of fighting for the rights of black South Africans against the oppressive regime of apartheid.

In 1961, the ANC founded its military wing, the Spear of the Nation, which fought the racist regime with the support of libertarian forces which included Cuba, the Soviet Union and many African nations. Political support from many countries helped to mark the end of the racist regime, with South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, which brought the ANC and its leader, the inspired Nelson Mandela, to power.

Mr. Mandela’s government was characterized by the demolition of the racist state with cries for national reconciliation. A new constitution enshrined democratic values, public governance as well as social and civil rights in a Bill of Rights, which is presented in its chapter 2, and was inspired by ANC’s principles as seen by the eyes of formidable jurists like Albie Sachs.

In 1999, President Mandela was replaced by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki, whose term in office finished in 2008. Mr. Mbeki’s administration was marked by an average economic growth of 4.5% per year and by a political framework that ensured continued social advancement of the people of South Africa.

Among the achievements of ANC’s administration one would also count the empowerment of the majority, a successful educational program, an efficient welfare system, a stable economic environment, the eradication of malnutrition, a massive popular housing initiative, an efficient fight against crime on all levels, improved public transportation, as well as the creation of an inspired democratic model for a whole continent.

In international relations, the democratic governments of South Africa have had a major beneficial impact in various multilateral fora, with positions close to other major developing countries, such as Brazil. As one of the so-called BRICS, South Africa now legitimately aspires to a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, in a much awaited reform.

In May 2009, Jacob Zuma was elected as new president of South Africa, following his election as president of the ANC in 2007. He has the burden of continuing to meet the growing aspirations of the people of South Africa, still repressed and yet understandably unachieved, after less than two decades of democratic rule, which succeeded one of the most inhuman regimes registered by History.

After 100 years, and in spite of all the many challenges, the ANC remains very much focused in its original objective of advancement of the rights of South Africans, now within the exemplary democratic framework it created for the country.