The African National Congress (not to be confused with the African National Council which was formed during detente by ZAPU and ZAPU and was headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa) was a nationalist oriented political party which was formed to fight against the colonial regime. It emerged in 1957 and was banned by the colonial regime in 1959.

Prelude and Formation

The African National Congress, first called the Southern Rhodesia Bantu Congress was formed in Bulawayo.[1] This first Rhodesian ANC did not last long nor did its influence spread much outside of Bulawayo. Essentially an elitist group, its main work was done through petitions and delegations.[1]

The African National Congress was revived in Bulawayo in 1945, but its following was still limited and it did not adopt a militant policy until ten years later.[1] In 1952 Joshua Nkomo was elected president of the Bulawayo based Southern Rhodesian chapter of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.[1]


On September 12, 1957 the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress (SRANC) was formed by the amalgamation of the Salisbury based Youth League and the Bulawayo branch of the African National Congress (ANC).[2] Joshua Nkomo was elected President and James Chikerema Vice-President. The ANC opposed the discriminatory laws ensconced in the Constitution, and attracted to nationalist politics as an alternative to trying to achieve more privileges within the white system.[3]

In 1959, The Southern Rhodesia African National Congress (SRANC) was banned, Prime Minister Whitehead declared a state of emergency and 500 leaders and members of the ANC were arrested.[1] Joshua Nkomo was out of the country at the time of the banning and thus avoided detention. Other leaders such as Chikerema and Nyandoro spent the next four years in prison.[4]

On 1 January 1960 the National Democratic Party (NDP) was founded as the successor to the banned ANC with Michael Mawema as interim President.[5] Joshua Nkomo was elected President in November 1960. The NDP won a mass following and attracted the intellectual elite.


Like most of the nationalist movements during this period, the ANC was intereted in the political independence of Rhodesia. However, unlike its predecessors such as the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), the ANC had a moderate approach. This was because the party was dominated by academics and intellectuals who lacked a the militancy needed in politics.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 , The ZAPU Timeline, "ZAPU", retrieved:16 Jul 2014"
  2. E.M Sibanda The Zimbabwe African People's Union 1961-87: A Political History of Insurgency in Southern Rhodesia, "Trenton", published:2005,retrieved:16 Jul 2014"
  3. , Zimbabwe: Self-government and Federation (1923 - 1963), "EISA", published:2008,retrieved:16 Jul 2014"
  4. , Robert Mugabe on the Birth of Zimbabwe, retrieved:16 Jul 2014"
  5. , Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Facts, "Your Dictionary", retrieved:16 Jul 2014"

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