The African National Congress (ANC) has been South Africa's governing party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), since the establishment of non-racial democracy in May 1994. It defines itself as a "disciplined force of the left". Members founded the organization as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) on 8 January 1912 in Bloemfontein to increase the rights of the black South African population. John Dube, its first president, and poet and author Sol Plaatje are among its founding members. The organization became the ANC in 1923 and formed a military wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) in 1961.
It has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa on the national level since 1994. It gained support in the 1999 elections, and further increased its majority in 2004.