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  • Documents on Democracy

South Africa

The "Freedom Charter," which still remains the ANC's basic statement of principles, was originally adopted by the multiracial Congress of the People on 26 June 1955. The complete text follows:

  • PREAMBLE. We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:

    • That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people;

    • That our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;

    • That our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;

    • That only a democratic state, based on the will of the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;

    • And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white, together-equals, countrymen and brothers-adopt this FREEDOM CHARTER. And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing nothing of our strength and courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.

  • THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN! Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws.

    All the people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country.

    The rights of the people shall be the same regardless of race, colour or sex.

    All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government. [End Page 128]

  • ALL NATIONAL GROUPS SHALL HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS! There shall be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups and races;

    All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and national pride;

    All people shall have equal rights to use their own language and to develop their own folk culture and customs;

    The preaching and practice of national, race or colour discrimination and contempt shall be a punishable crime;

    All apartheid laws and practices shall be set aside.

  • THE PEOPLE SHALL SHARE IN THE COUNTRY'S WEALTH! The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people;

    The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;

    All other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people;

    All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.

  • THE LAND SHALL BE SHARED AMONG THOSE WHO WORK IT! Restriction of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work it, to banish famine and land hunger;

    The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers;

    Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land;

    All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose;

    People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be abolished.

  • ALL SHALL BE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW! No one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial;

    No one shall be condemned by the order of a Government official;

    The courts shall be representative of the people;

    Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance;

    The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the people;

    All laws which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief shall be repealed.

  • ALL SHALL ENJOY EQUAL HUMAN RIGHTS! The law shall [End Page 129] guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children;

    The privacy of the house from police raids shall be protected by law;

    All shall...


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