UDF40: Calls for active participation in democracy 

Thirty years on, members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) say South Africa is ‘Not Yet Uhuru’. 

“South Africa is a different and better place! But sadly, our beloved country has many failings. Corruption in the private and public sectors is rife. The gap between the rich and the poor is unconscionable.”  

These were the utterances of one of the UDF’s founders, Valli Moosa. The anti-apartheid movement celebrated its 40th anniversary on Sunday, August 20, at the Johannesburg City Hall. 

The organisation was formed on August 20, 1983, in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town by Dr Allan Boesak, Valli Moosa, Popo Molefe, Murphy Morobe and Reverend Frank Chikane amongst others.  


One of the founding members of the UDF Popo Molefe delivering his speech during the 40th anniversary celebration. Photo: Yunus Chamda/supplied.

Rooted in the values of non-racialism and justice, the UDF brought together 400 public organisations including trade, student, women’s unions and religious organisations.  

Addressing the media last week at the Country Club Johannesburg in Auckland Park, Reverend Chikane said this 40th anniversary celebration is an opportunity to highlight the importance  of active citizenry.  

“In the past, the key value of the organisation was anchored in unity as people joined the movement to fight for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and just society. We all took a step, we refused to collaborate with the apartheid system, and they took us seriously. Anybody who is in government if we get organised, they [those in government] will take us seriously.” 

The theme of the UDF40, ‘Building Active Citizenry for Transformation and Accountability,’ called for the mobilisation of the people to find resourceful ways to marshal their energies towards defending South Africa’s hard-won democracy.  

Speaking at the event, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged the challenges South Africans are currently faced with.  

“The task before us is that those amongst us should not cling to the baton, they should take the baton and pass it on and set sights high on how to overcome challenges facing the people of South Africa,” said Ramaphosa.  

Former trade union leader and chairperson of the South African Tourism Board, Dr Thozamile Botha said the struggle for economic emancipation and social housing continues. He added that we should draw lessons to sharpen our ideology from the UDF as we head into 30 years of democracy. 

FEATURED IMAGE: People gathered in their numbers to celebrate the UDF’s 40th anniversary at the Joburg City Hall. Photo: Yunus Chamda/supplied.

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