South Africa: Political Parties Material

Scope and Content

Manifestos, speeches, pamphlets, leaflets, letters, newsletters, journals, posters, press releases and miscellaneous election material at national, local and youth levels issued by the African Democratic Party (South Africa), the African National Congress, the African National Congress Youth League, the Azanian Students' Organisation (South Africa), the Congress of the People, the Conservative Party (South Africa), the Defenders of the Constitution (South Africa), the Democratic Party (South Africa), Denis Worrall, the Episcopal Churchmen for South Africa, the Freedom Front (South Africa), the Freedom Party (South Africa), the Herstigte Nasionale Party van Suid-Afrika, Independent Candidates, the Independent Party (South Africa), the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Labour Party of South Africa, the Liberal Party of South Africa, National Conservative Party (South Africa), the National Party (South Africa), the Non-Racial Franchise Association, the New Republic Party (South Africa), the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the Progressive Federal Party (South Africa), the Progressive Federal Party (South Africa) Youth Movement., the Progressive Party of South Africa, Revolutionary Party (South Africa), the South African Coloured People's Congress, the South African Communist Party, the South African Congress of Democrats, the South African Labour Party, the South African Progressive Reform Party, Umkhonto we Sizwe, the United Democratic Front (South Africa), the Union Federal Party (Natal), the Unification Movement (South Africa), the United Party (South Africa), the Unity Movement of South Africa, and the Vigilance Association (Orlando, South Africa).

Administrative / Biographical History

As the Union of South Africa (1910-1961) and subsequently as a republic the country's history between independence from British rule and the 1994 elections has been dominated by the issue of relations between its different racial groups. Following the ascension to power of the Boer-dominated National Party in 1948 racial discrimination became increasingly entrenched in law as part of the 'apartheid' policy. Resistance and repression increased together, with groups representing the demands of the non-white population (notably the PAC and the ANC) being banned and subsequently conducting an armed struggle from various bases in sympathetic neighbouring countries. Legislation such as the pass laws and the ruling requiring all pupils to learn Afrikaans led to protests and subsequent massacres, in the former case at Sharpeville in 1960 and in the latter in Soweto in 1976. Domestic events were played out against a backdrop of increasing foreign condemnation of the apartheid regime and its consciousness of the vulnerability of its position as an important factor in Cold War strategy. These issues, as well as the disputes between different factions in the liberation and apartheid movements, are raised, referred to and discussed within the materials held here. In addition, newer materials deal with the political scene after the transition to majority rule and the problems such as endemic poverty and AIDS which have tempered the initial optimism of the post-apartheid era.


Alphabetically by party, and then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT)

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial History

The Commonwealth Political Parties Materials collection was begun in 1960-61, with special emphasis being placed then, as now, on "primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos." (ICS, Twelfth Annual Report 1960-1961). Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently South African material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form.

Related Material

See also South Africa: Trades Unions Material (TU.SA) and South Africa: Pressure Groups Material (PG.SA), as well as Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries, the Ruth First Papers (ICS 117), and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.