August 10, 2004

Former apartheid party joins ANC

South Africa’s party of apartheid, the New National Party, has decided to dissolve itself into the movement it spent 50 years trying to destroy, the African National Congress. Ridicule and charges of opportunism were afterwards heaped upon the leader of the nationalists, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who in April accepted a ministerial job in the ANC government and then last weekend said he was abandoning his party to join the ANC. "The historical irony is not lost on anyone," said a Johannesburg-based political consultant, Aubrey Matshiqi. "The National Party was the party of apartheid and the ANC was the main liberation movement against apartheid. The 90-year-old National Party invented and brutally enforced the policy of apartheid. During its 46 years in power it was responsible for the banning of the ANC and other liberation movements, the jailing of ANC leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, and the deaths of thousands of ANC members and supporters.
Mr van Schalkwyk, a former member of military intelligence in the apartheid era, inherited leadership of the National Party in 1997 from FW de Klerk. According to him, the ANC was the vehicle for South Africa’s diverse minorities to engage with the black African majority. "We believe that the real debate about the future of the country is within the ANC and not outside," he said. (The Scotsman, UK)

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