South African former apartheid party dissolves

Sunday, April 10, 2005 The former party of apartheid in South Africa, the New National Party (NNP), has finally been dissolved by a vote of the party's federal council on April 9, 2005. The vote was 88 in favor, 2 against, and 3 abstentions.

This follows a decision under the guidance of party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk last year to join forces with the ruling African National Congress party (ANC). "The forerunner to the NNP, the National Party, brought development to a section of South Africa but also brought suffering through a system grounded on injustice," said van Schalkwyk.

The NNP was the successor to the National Party, taking the new name in 1997 to distance itself from its apartheid past. The National Party was the governing party of South Africa from 1948 to 1994, and promoted policies of apartheid and the promotion of Afrikaner (white South African) culture.

Former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk, who oversaw the end of apartheid during his tenure from 1989 to 1994 as its last white president, called for the creation of a new party to take the NNP's place. "I think there is a need to establish something to take the place of the National Party, but hopefully without the historical baggage which the National Party carried and which also played a role in its demise," said de Klerk.

Proportion of the NNP share of the national vote have been steadily dropping since 1994, when it received 20.4% as the National Party in the nation's first free multi-racial elections, to 2004, when it received 1.7%.

Other prominent South African parties include the ANC (African National Congress), ruling party with 69.7% of the 2004 vote; and the Democratic Alliance (DA), a liberal party which is the official opposition party to the ANC, and received 12.4% of the 2004 vote. Until being dissolved the NNP was the fifth largest party in the country.

Concerns have been expressed about the long-term unchecked dominance of the ANC and the possibility for corruption, with Business Monitor International expressing the view that, "While official graft is low by both global and African standards, the blurred line between the government and the dominant ANC party gives plenty of scope for abuses."

Transparency International ranks South Africa at 44th on its list of corrupt countries in its 2004 Corrupt Perceptions Index, ahead of most African nations but behind Botswana (31st) and Tunisia (39th). For comparison, the United States ranks at 17th on the same list.