Thirty-five years ago on 20 August 1983, thousands of South Africans, black and white, from across the country and from all walks of life, came together to form the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Rocklands, Mitchells Plan.
The UDF brought together trade unions, civic movements, youth, women, student and faith-based organisations, NGOs, united in their opposition against the racist new Constitution Tricameral Parliament, that sought to divide our people.
With the slogan “UDF Unites, Apartheid Divides” and inspired by the Freedom Charter, this formidable united front of our people went on to mobilise our people in a country-wide, non-racial and non-sexist movement, which changed the political trajectory of our country.
Working with the ANC underground structures, the UDF moved swiftly to make apartheid unworkable and contributed towards pushing the regime to release cde Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, unban the ANC and other organisations, and come to the negotiating table.
As we celebrate 35 years of the UDF in the same year that we celebrate the centenary of its co-President Mam Albertina Notsikilelo Sisulu, we pay tribute to the leaders and members of the UDF and all its affiliate organisations. We remember the thousands of UDF activists who were imprisoned, banned, restricted, teargassed and paid the ultimate price.
Thirty-five years later, our country has come a long way. We now have a Constitution that provides a framework for redressing the injustices of the past. We have also removed racist laws from our statute books and laid a firm foundation over the last 24 years to ensure a better life for all our people.
However, much more needs to be done to reverse the legacy of apartheid colonialism, and build a truly non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society, to fulfill the dream of the UDF founders.
Issued by the African National Congress
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