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South African Congress of Democrats

The South African Congress of Democrats (SACOD) was a radical, left, white, anti-apartheid organization founded in South Africa in late 1953 as part of the multi-racial Congress Alliance.[1] The establishment of the COD sought to illustrate opposition to apartheid among whites. The COD identified closely with the African National Congress and advocated racial equality and universal suffrage.

Though small, COD was a key organization of the Congress Alliance. The COD took part in every Congress Alliance campaign until it was banned by the South African Apartheid government in September 1962.[2]

Relationship with the ANC and SACP

The ANC viewed the COD as a way to put its views directly to the white public. Moreover, as Nelson Mandela wrote, "The COD served an important symbolic function for Africans; blacks who had come into the struggle because they were antiwhite discovered that there were indeed whites of goodwill who treated Africans as equal."[3] Though COD was not itself a communist organization, many members of the banned South African Communist Party (SACP) joined the COD.


COD never had more than 700 members and was based mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Members of COD included:[4]


  1. ^ South African History Online. "South African Congress of Democrats Founding Conference". 
  2. ^ South African History Online. "Congress of Democrats". 
  3. ^ Nelson, Mandela (1994). Long Walk To Freedom. p. 149. 
  4. ^ South African Democracy Education Trust (2004). The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1960-1970. Zebra Press. p. 622. 

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