All the presidential men

2012-01-07 10:42

There have been 12 ANC presidents since the birth of the South African Native National Congress in 1912.

John Langalibalele Dube

1912 - 1917

Dube was born in 1871 in KZN into a staunch Christian family.

An author, educator and cleric, Dube was elected first president of the then South African Native National Congress (later renamed the ANC) in 1912.

He is one of the most celebrated intellectuals from KZN and a vocal critic of oppressive laws such as the Land Act of 1913.

He established the first isiZulu newspaper, Ilanga, which still publishes today.

Died: 1946

Sefako Makgatho

1917 - 1924

Born in 1861, Makgatho was a founder member of the SANNC.

He was also an educator, theologian and an editor of the Good Shepherd. Makgatho went to school in Middlesex, England, and was a fierce opponent of laws imposed on black people in South Africa.

Died: 1951

Zacharias Mahabane

1924 - 1927 and 1937 - 1940

Mahabane was born to Christian parents and farmers on August 15 1881 in Thaba Nchu, Free State. A teacher, court interpreter and a reverend, Mahabane served two terms as ANC president.

Died: 1970

Josiah Gumede

1927 - 1930

Gumede is thought to be the first ANC leader to have met Josef Stalin in 1927 when he visited the Soviet Union with an ANC delegation.

His sentiments on communism were the reason he was ousted from his position.

Having founded the Natal Native Congress (NNC) in 1900, one of the founding organisations of the ANC in 1912, Gumede tried to keep the NNC out of ANC politics, a move that divided the organisation and contributed to his downfall.

A political activist and former editor of Ilanga newspaper, Gumede was born in 1870.

Died: 1947

Pixley ka Isaka Seme

1930 - 1937

Also a founder member of the SANNC, Seme was born on October 1 1881.

Educated in the US at Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, he later obtained a BA degree in 1906 at Columbia University before qualifying as an attorney after acquiring a degree in civil law from Jesus College in Oxford, England.

He succeeded Gumede in 1930.

Seme became partners with the ANCYL’s first president, Anton Lembede.

His autocratic rule and cautious approach to militant politics were seen as key reasons for his ousting in 1937.

Died: 1951

Dr Alfred Xuma

1940 - 1948

Xuma, a medical doctor born in 1893, inherited an ANC in disarray.

He failed to contain calls from ANCYL leaders Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu for a militant struggle against minority rule.

The relatively moderate and conservative Xuma, who did not support the ANCYL’s boycott tactics, was ousted when Mandela and Sisulu demanded radical action and closer ties with the SA Communist Party.

Died: 1962

Dr James Moroka

1949 - 1952

Born on March 16 1891, Moroka was a medical doctor when he became involved with the ANC in 1942, he led the party in the beginning of the Defiance Campaign with ANC stalwart ZK Matthews until Chief Albert Luthuli was elected on December 20 1952.

He is credited with playing a key role in transforming the ANC into a more militant organisation.

Died: 1985

Chief Albert Luthuli

1952 - 1967

Perhaps the most respected African leader of his generation, Luthuli was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.

Born in 1898 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, Luthuli only entered politics in his 50s and was constantly banned and detained.

He was also an accused in the treason trials of the 1950s.

He died in 1967, while still ANC president, reportedly after being struck by a train, though many of his followers believed there was something sinister behind his death.

Died: 1967

Oliver Tambo

1967 - 1991

Born October 17 1917 in Eastern Cape, Tambo was a founder member of the ANCYL in 1944.

Then a deputy president of the ANC, Tambo knew in 1958 that the party wanted him to go into exile with his family.

From 1960, after the Sharpeville massacre, Tambo embarked on a mission to garner international support and visited eight countries before he was reunited with his family later that year in London.

Tambo’s most dramatic speech – at the ANC’s 73rd anniversary celebrations in 1985 – called on all South Africans to make the country “ungovernable”. He returned to SA in 1991 after three decades in London.

Died: 1993

Nelson Mandela

1991 - 1997

Born July 18 1918, Mandela was SA’s first democratically elected president in 1994.

A lawyer and amateur boxer, he spent 27 years behind bars until his release in 1990.

He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and one of the most recognisable humanitarians and politicians of the 21st century.

He is hailed the world over for his stance on reconciliation. He twice refused offers of release from prison on condition he recognised the Transkei as a homeland and abandoned his support for armed struggle.

He was one of 19 ANC leaders who were charged in the Rivonia Trial of 1963. Mandela lives with his wife Graca Machel in Qunu in the Eastern Cape most of the time.

Thabo Mbeki

1997 - 2007

To date the country’s only post-democracy president to serve almost two terms, Mbeki was recalled as the country’s president in September 2008 a few months after he lost the ANC presidency to Jacob Zuma at the Polokwane conference in 2007.

He was president of South Africa from 1999 to 2008. Born in June 1942 in Idutywa, Eastern Cape, Mbeki joined the ANC at 14.

After his father, Govan Mbeki, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial he moved to Tanzania under orders from the ANC and then to the UK where he completed his masters in economics at Sussex University in 1966.

 During that time he was Tambo’s protégé and built the student and youth movements of the ANC in exile.

He lives with his wife Zanele in Johannesburg.

Jacob Zuma

2007 to date

Born in Nkandla, KZN, on April 12 1942, as a young man Zuma herded cattle and did not get an opportunity to gain a formal education.

He joined the ANC at 16 and the SACP in 1962, and orchestrated an anti-pass campaign in Nkandla in the 1950s.

After going into exile in 1975 Zuma rose in the ANC to head its intelligence department in 1980 while in Lusaka, Zambia.

Later he headed the ANC’s underground structures.

On his return from exile he was involved in the mediation of war-torn Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

After surviving a rape trial and corruption allegations he defeated Mbeki in 2007 to become party president.

He is looking for a second term as party president ahead of the Mangaung conference in December 2012.

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