Africa Notes: A Fundamental Shift in South African Politics? - January 1986
January 31, 1986
A fundamental shift has occurred in South African politics during the past 18 months, bringing the African National Congress back to center stage after 25 years of precarious existence in exile. ANC colors- black, green, and gold - are flown everywhere. Newspapers report fairly freely on the strategies and purposes of the exiled leadership, and occasionally (either with permission from the government or at the risk of prosecution) ANC President Oliver Tambo is quoted directly. Universities offer public lectures on ANC strategy. At funerals, young blacks occasionally march with wooden replicas of that international symbol of revolution, the AK-4 7 Soviet assault rifle. Even Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, the Zulu leader who claims the ANC is trying to assassinate him, has found it expedient to recall his old ties to Nelson Mandel a and to join in the demand for the ANC leader's release from Pollsmoor prison.
The reemergence of the ANC is more symptom than cause of the realignment of political forces that has, in a relatively short space of time, altered entirely the outlook for South Africa and shortened all its time scales. Marxists would speak of "a shift in the correlation of forces," but it is perhaps more accurate to say that 1985 saw a coalescence of forces, internal and external, that reinforced each other to confront white South Africans, for the first time, with identifiably revolutionary conditions.