The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania broke away from the African National Congress in 1959 because its leaders did not agree with the Freedom Charter. A year later, it went on to organise the anti-pass laws which led to the Sharpeville massacre on March 21. Police shot and killed 69 protesters without orders.
Another 57 years later, the party first led by Robert Sobukwe seems to be floundering. In an unusual show of unity, political parties in Gauteng united to commemorate events in Sharpeville on Human Rights Day on Tuesday. The PAC was one of these parties. During commemorations, the party's leader, Luthando Mbinda said the party would be in the running for leadership of the country come 2024. The Star reported him saying: "Come 2024, the PAC will take over as the ruling government. We have given the current government too many opportunities at the cost of the lives of our people."
So, what is the state of the party that believes that those in government should owe their allegiance only to Africa?
- The PAC's share of the vote has steadily declined from 1,25 percent in 1994 to 0,21 percent in the 2014 national elections.
- The biggest drop in the party's vote was in 2009, after its former Member of Parliament Themba Godi and two others used floor-crossing legislation in 2007 to leave the PAC and form the African People's Convention.
- The PAC has seen many leadership disputes throughout the years, such as in 1996 when Clarence Makwetu was removed for "bringing the party into disrepute".
- In 2013 Alton Mphethi was elected as president after Letlapa Mphahlele was expelled amidst allegations of attempting to cause division in the party, financial impropriety and poor quality leadership. Mphahlele's supporters kept on fighting, however, but the next year the courts confirmed Mphethi as the party leader for the 2014 election.
- Mphahlele tried to make a comeback in 2015 but Luthando Mbinda, who was elected leader the year before, was confirmed the real party leader by the court.