Liberation movements in Southern Africa : the ANC (South Africa) and ZANU (Zimbabwe) compared

Skagen, Kristin (2008-12)

Thesis MA (Political Science. International Studies))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


Liberation movements came into being across the entire African continent as a political response to colonisation. However, Africa has in this field, as in so many others, been largely understudied, in comparison to revolutionary movements in South America and South East Asia. While many case studies on specific liberation movements exist, very few are comparative in nature. This study will do precisely that using the framework of Thomas H. Greene. The resistance movements in South Africa and Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, consisted of several organisations, but the ones that emerged as the most powerful and significant in the two countries were the ANC and ZANU respectively. Although their situations were similar in many ways, there were other factors that necessarily led to two very different liberation struggles. This study looks closer at these factors, why they were so, and what this meant for the two movements. It focuses on the different characteristics of the movements, dividing these into leadership, support base, ideology, organisation, strategies and external support. All revolutionary movements rely on these factors to varying degrees, depending on the conditions they are operating under. The ANC and ZANU both had to fight under very difficult and different circumstances, with oppressive minority regimes severely restricting their actions. This meant that the non-violent protests that initially were a great influence for the leadership of both movements – especially with the successes of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa and India, inevitably had to give way to the more effective strategies of sabotage and armed struggle. Like other African resistance movements, nationalism was used as the main mobilising tool within the populations. In South Africa the struggle against apartheid was more complex and multidimensional than in Zimbabwe. Ultimately successful in their efforts, the ANC and ZANU both became the political parties that assumed power after liberation. This study does not extend to post-liberation problems.

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