On September 27, 1997, the United Democratic Movement was officially launched.  Since that time, we have travelled across South Africa – giving speeches, holding rallies, and most importantly, meeting with thousands of South Africans, from the rural villages of Mpumalanga to the boardrooms of Gauteng.  We have spent countless hours listening to their daily concerns and discussing their aspirations for the future – for themselves, for their families, and for South Africa.  During those consultations, we found a genuine and productive congruence of views on most issues, and we became even more committed to the basic tenet on which the UDM was founded – that we as a party, and as a country, are strengthened by the diversity of our backgrounds.

We are united by our common vision for South Africa – to make it a world class nation in ten years.  However, many South Africans find themselves without the tools to achieve that vision; caught in a structural insecurity, and daily asking:

  • Will there be food on the table?
  • Will we be protected against rising unemployment levels?
  • Will we be able to provide shelter for our families?
  • Will we be attacked on the street or at home?
  • Will we be able to provide our children with a good education?
  • Will we avoid illness or be able to count on the minimal of primary health care?
  • Will the decisions made by the government, which will affect our lives, be tainted by the corruption which is so prevalent in government today? 

Policy debates taking place in Parliament are characterised by confrontation and mistrust, none of which benefits South Africa or its people.  Politics of mistrust is the greatest obstacle to the innovation and change which is necessary to address the pressing concerns facing South Africa today.  The corruption and cronyism which continues in government further burdens the process, and cripples government from implementing policies which will empower all South Africans and create opportunities for growth and development.

It is important that positions on different issues be considered in context with each other.  An integrative strategy must be developed; one underpinned by the concept of sustainable development, or simply “meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

We must develop policies which create opportunities for growth – improving the quality of life for all South Africans, and ultimately narrowing the gap between South Africa’s “first world” and “third world” economies.

1.       The UDM towards 2000 and beyond – overview

1.1.             Our vision

We believe that a nation (and for that matter a political party) must be led by a vision of where it wants to be at a certain point in the future – focusing the collective mind and creating hope for everyone.  When we launched the UDM in September 1997, we formulated a mission for the country, i.e.:

To make South Africa a world-class nation in 10 years

By definition, this vision means quality of life for all South Africans in terms of housing, education and social care.  It also means the creation of opportunities for everyone, in every sphere of life – business, sport, arts and culture, etc.  This document addresses those issues, which we believe fundamental to realising our vision for South Africa.  The UDM commits itself to the implementation of this vision, in whatever role, as from the 1999 elections.

1.2.             Critical perspectives

  • The devastating effects of poverty is depriving people of hope, relegating them to a state of helplessness and destroying their self-belief and capacity to achieve.
  • The majority of South Africans are poor and in world terms, South Africa is not a wealthy country.  Both these factors need to be addressed if this country is to become a winning nation.
  • The immense challenge faced by all nations in this age of globalisation.
  • The need for economic and social policies which benefit all South Africans.
  • The need for good management, incorruptibility, accountability, transparency and impartiality in government
  • The historic disparities between urban and rural societies in the allocation of resources for development and education and the provision of institutional support, including the need for these to be comparable and equitable.
  • The Government has the responsibility to lay down guidelines and provide infrastructure and resources and that building capacity by individuals, private enterprise, labour and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) must be encouraged.
  • The restoration of civil order is needed to ensure a stable society in which an entrepreneurial spirit and productive enterprise can develop and flourish. 

1.3.             Policy Pillars

  • Empowering people to resist overcome and subordinate poverty through sustainable economic and social development.
  • Developing an integrated approach to job creation as the key catalyst in alleviating poverty – based on the pillars of enterprise development; civil order, access to capital; land ownership; education and skills training, tourism, environment and commitment to the facilitation of this approach at all levels of government.
  • Establishing viable strategies for social and enterprise development as the foundation for rural revitalisation
  • Encouraging partnerships between all stakeholders – including Government, individuals, and private enterprise, NGOs, academics, international agencies, etc. – to promote social and enterprise development.
  • Creating an environment that encourages and unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Regenerating in all South Africans a sense of pride in, and ownership of, government by establishing a new ethical framework of incorruptibility, accountability, transparency and impartiality in governance of all South Africans.


1.4.             Two main reasons why the UDM’s agenda will work better

Everyone is aware to varying degrees, of what South Africa’s problems are.  All major political parties’ policy objectives and agendas share, in general, recognition of these and make claims to address them.  Having objectives and strategies is one thing – delivering them is quite another as the ANC, in particular, must know.

The UDM believes there are two main reasons why its policies and approach will make things happen and put South Africa on the road to becoming a world class nation.  These are:

  • The inclusive process it has been using in developing and refining its policies
  • The integrated nature of its policy framework


1.5.             Our inclusive process

The UDM followed an inclusive process in developing its policy positions.  After consultations, workshops and inputs from provincial structures, it is clear that the fundamental positions and policy departure points that were adopted in the plenary session on 27 September 1997 have been accepted by the structures of the UDM.  These now form the founding documents of the UDM, outlining our vision, mission, core values and broad policy positions.

Thus, the UDM’s policy is the result of many months of a consultative process, both within the Movement itself, but, more importantly, drawing on the opinions and needs of the full spectrum of social and political groupings and structures throughout SA.

It is no accident that the racial, socio-economic and geographical profile of support for the UDM is virtually identical to that of the country as a whole.  It reflects none of the counter-productive black/white, rich/poor, urban/rural biases of existing parties.  It is already preparing the UDM to play its role in deracialising SA politics and society too.

1.6.             What policy integration means

The UDM’s policy addresses those issues that we believe to be fundamental in achieving our vision for South Africa.  However, in focusing on this objective it becomes clear that positions on different issues must be considered holistically, that is, in the context of one another.  The UDM’s policy, therefore, is integrative.  It recognises and takes into account the inter-relationship between, for example, such critical problems as crime, wealth creation, education and land ownership.  It does not fall into the trap of trying to treat them as separate issues.


2.       The UDM’s Integrated Policy Framework

2.1.             The key is to design and implement policies that empower all South Africans.

The first step towards achieving our vision for South Africa is to narrow the gap between those that have and those that do not.  However, this gap can only be effectively narrowed if each and everyone in society benefit.  Our policies will ensure that the enlarging of the economic cake is done by enriching the poor, not by impoverishing the wealth creators.


2.2.             Job creation as the core catalyst in achieving our vision

Of the many critical issues that need to be addressed, job creation is at the heart of the process of narrowing the economic gaps between various sectors of our people.  Without jobs, crime will continue to flourish and people will never be able to afford to take care of their own needs.

At the macro-economic level, the plans of the Government are failing in terms of growth and job creation.  This means obvious shortcomings as far as GEAR is concerned.  It is clear that, in the South African situation, it is simply no longer possible to provide sufficient jobs through conventional policies involving government and big business.


3.       Enterprise development is the key

The UDM will drive a policy of enterprise development as the answer to unemployment.  We will apply the integrative policy approach that simultaneously addresses all those issues that are inhibiting job creation today, so that South Africa becomes a world class nation in 10 years.

The key issues that relate to job creation are: enterprise development: civil order: access to capital: basic education and skills training: land ownership: tourism (as a specific industry) and environment: and the respective roles of government, business and labour.

We recognise there are other, equally important policy matters and these are addressed in separate position papers.  However, the critical thrust, the issue of burning concern to the majority of South Africans is job creation.


4.       Enterprise development

The UDM will vigorously pursue policies, which encourage and open-up opportunities for individuals, single households, or groups of people to start and sustain their own small businesses.  Through these, they will empower and enrich themselves materially and spiritually, provide work to others in their communities and enhance the general well being of their society.

Government must play a strong role in promoting and encouraging the right kind of policies that will kick-start entrepreneurial opportunity and enable small enterprises to grow and prosper.  The UDM’s concept is distinctly different to the idea that government should do this by becoming a long-term active participant.  What we see government doing is encouraging partnerships between private sector companies, NGOs, development agencies, etc., which harness the knowledge, strengths and expertise of these organisations for the benefit of small businesses.

Appropriate policies, envisaged by the UDM, will attract the co-operation of big business through invitation and the promise of mutual self-interest (e.g. stability and growth).

The UDM supports the re-introduction of government programmes which employ and train the unemployed in agricultural and community development projects, thus transforming these programmes into self-sustaining, locally-owned enterprises with the opportunity to grow, accumulate assets and create employment.


5.       Civil order

A world class nation can exist only in a productive and safe environment which encourages enterprises to flourish whilst attracting local and foreign investments.  Therefore the UDM views the restoration of civil order as an immediate priority.

The UDM, being a non-violent movement, will develop effective alternatives to the current pattern of violence in all spheres of society.  The UDM will work towards the goal of demilitarising our society; by eliminating (weapons of mass destruction) and preventing the proliferation of small arms.  Nevertheless the UDM recognises the need for self-defence, as well as the need to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  The UDM promotes non-violent methods to oppose practices, with which we disagree, and will guide our actions towards lasting community and global peace.

In view of our objectives and the constitution of our country, the UDM fiercely advocates that crime and violence can be tolerated no longer, since it infringes upon our objectives for growth and deprives us of our enshrined constitutional rights.  The UDM believes that zero-tolerance towards crime and the consequent protection of our rights must occur along with a national moral regeneration, towards a clear distinction between right and wrong.

The UDM will promote the implementation of a Crime Eradication Strategy recognising the following two realities:

  • The immediate unacceptable situation must be addressed.
  • To ensure a long term solution to crime and violence, we the citizens of South Africa must commit ourselves to a concerted long term effort to reform our society, in order that we do not simply address the symptoms but also eradicate the causes of crime and violence. 

Accepting the above-mentioned realities as the pillars of our Crime Eradication Strategy, we commit ourselves to improving the state of civil order by:

  • Developing further the policy of visible and accessible policing.
  • Allocating more resources towards the breaking of crime syndicates and physically destroying their power bases; through such measures as forfeiture of property, crippling financial penalties, full victim compensation, and others.
  • Establishing a civil order system, and providing them with the necessary resources and support, recognising that merely improving one asset (police or correctional services or justice) of the system is insufficient, as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
  • Engaging international and local expertise from all spheres of society, benefiting from their experience to ensure we are providing South Africans with the best means of improving civil order.
  • Actively encouraging communities to participate in the eradication of crime, through the establishment of neighbourhood watches, etc.  The UDM recognises that communities will play a major role in addressing the root causes of crime and violence.
  • Consulting South Africans through referendum on the reinstatement of the death penalty, recognising that it may be the strongest, and only deterrent left to address the high levels of serious crimes for the immediate future.
  • Establishing a baseline information system (database) for strategic planning around crime and policing issues.  An important component of such a system would be the use of victim surveys to fill the gaps left by official crime statistics as compiled by the police.
  • Swiftly and mercilessly eradicating corruption in the civil order system, recognising that those entrusted to uphold the law will not only be ineffective and mistrusted if they act outside it but will gradually bring the whole institution into disrepute.  In such a way we will improve the morale, image and outlook of civil order officials, to restore the public’s confidence in them.
  • Equal access to police and judicial services to all in South Africa.
  • To enhance regional and international co-operation on civil order issues.


6.       Access to capital

The lack of access to capital is the single most serious barrier to enterprise development in South Africa today.  The key is to ensure that low and moderate-income persons and communities, as well as small business, have access to banking services, affordable loans and small-business supporting capital.  The aspect of redistribution should be addressed in this regard realising that the capital market currently operates in a way to service existing and established businesses and individuals only.  The focus should be to develop capital market to assist new and emerging businesses that will create new employment opportunities.  In order to start alleviating this problem, the UDM supports:

6.1.               Encouraging and building on the use of stokvels and combining them with first world banking expertise.

6.2.               Reviewing alternative financing options and supporting those that best suit the needs of small entrepreneurs.  This would include, inter alia:

6.2.1.            The formation of local stock exchanges.

6.2.2.            Development of non-bank financial institutions that can provide financing, or form a bridge between small enterprises and the traditional sector.

6.2.3.            Small and medium business investment corporations.

6.2.4.            NGOs and community development banks with the financial and technical support of the government.

6.2.5.            The setting aside by investment funds and insurance companies of a certain percentage of their funds for venture capital.

6.2.6.            Micro-finance institutions such as the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh.[1]

6.2.7.            Alternative forms of collateral (i.e. immovable property like landholdings, insurance policies, equipment, etc.) in procuring credit.


7.       Basic education and skills training

The future stability and prosperity of South Africa will depend on the level and quality of education and skills training of all its citizens.  These will make the greatest contribution, by far, to growth and equity in our society.  The UDM will increase the level of this training by:

7.1.               Providing for training of entrepreneurial and risk skills in both private and public sectors.

7.2.               Allocating government resources to practical skills training which enhances peoples’ abilities to enter the formal and informal sector

7.3.               Working with NGOs, the private sector and other development partners to ensure that all South Africans have access to primary basic education (i.e.., both literacy and numerically)

7.4.               Providing incentives to companies that provide basic vocational and technical skills training.

7.5.               Encouraging the linking of schools and training organisations with employers through advisory committees, student placements, etc.

7.6.               Supporting teacher training and national standards for teachers and ensuring our teachers have the resources necessary to provide the highest level of professionalism possible

7.7.               Utilising the physical resources of the SANDF to mobilise the unemployed in special skills training programmes.

This document tackles only the most basic skills and knowledge needed to encourage and support the entrepreneurial spirit.  The UDM recognises that this is only a part of the whole issue and has addressed it more comprehensively in our education policy.


8.       Land ownership and agriculture

Agriculture, agribusiness and small agricultural-related businesses are the main engine of growth in the rural areas.  The UDM acknowledges that private land ownership, as protected under the constitution, is essential to sound rural and agricultural development and will respect reasonably established land tenure rights and land restitution claims.  Moreover, the UDM will promote growth and enterprise in this area by:

8.1.               Compensating for inadequate land reform through investment incentives, aggressive redistribution of state land and market-driven access to land (willing buyer and seller).  The UDM will follow a participatory and market assisted approach, which will achieve land reform much faster than expropriation by government.

8.2.               Revitalising rural development at local and community levels by involving all stakeholders in the development and execution of projects at all stages.

8.3.               Supporting the establishment of consumer and manufacturing co-ops in rural communities with the assistance of local and provincial governments.

8.4.               Allocating financing, where necessary, to deliver support services (strategic research and small farmer extension) to the rural population.  Government should not supply commercial support services, but should perform a catalytic function only in developing farming operations.

8.5.               Involving the private sector in delivering and sustaining infrastructure and other services wherever possible, even on a joint basis.

8.6.               Complementing policy adjustments and export-led development with extension and research programmes.

8.7.               Respecting the security of water rights and conservation of scarce water resources as essential to long term agricultural planning and production.

8.8.               Encouraging land owners to grant/sell shares in their farming enterprises through incentives such as tax incentives; thus enabling workers to become co-owners in productive and efficient enterprises and:

  • Providing them with an incentive to protect and enhance these enterprises
  • Relieving farmers of sole responsibility to provide capital for the enterprise.
  • Transforming the focus from ownership of the land per se, to the productive use of it.


9.       Tourism

Tourism is the most under-exploited industry in South and Southern Africa.  The UDM recognises the huge potential which tourism can have in job creation and enterprise development.  It will thus aggressively stimulate the huge potential of this untapped market by promoting the motto of keeping South Africa clean, safe and friendly:

9.1.               Encouraging local community participation in the development and the maintenance of the industry (i.e. selling of arts and crafts, in protecting the local environment, enhancing local services etc.) – as a starting point, the immense benefits that tourism can bring, through job creation, must be promoted to local communities

9.2.               Dedicating greater government resources to develop and market tourism in this country and Southern Africa as a whole, to stimulate the local and international market.

9.3.               Modernising tourist infrastructures, e.g. transport, telecommunications, electricity, etc.

9.4.               Collaborating with local and international partners to bring in policies which will preserve this country’s wildlife, wilderness areas, and wetlands, wherever possible, with optimal private sector involvement.

9.5.               Ensuring the safety of tourists through increased policing efforts, especially in high traffic areas of tourism.

9.6.               Stimulate the industry in the local market through ensuring efficient services and competitive rates, which would make it accessible to the local community.

10.   Environment

The world and South Africa are becoming more crowded, more polluted and less ecologically stable.  In the years ahead, they will become even more ecologically unstable and more vulnerable to natural hazards.  These world trends are leading to a reduction in the quality of life of all people.  The apartheid environment is written all over the former homelands’ topographical areas and townships.  In recognition of these trends and disparities, the UDM commits itself to addressing the unsustainable exploitation and degradation of forests, soils, wildlife, fresh water and other natural resources that threaten to undermine our economic development prospects.  The degradation of the environment also inhibits South  Africa  in  meeting   its   commitments   to   international  conservation   and trade   objectives, such   as   those  embodied in the Convention on Biological Diversity Desertification, GATT and WTO agreements.  The UDM believes that through the implementation of biodiversity programmes, thousands of jobs can be created and in the process poverty would be eliminated through introducing a national strategy and action plan which would have the following components:

10.1.            Review and reform existing economic policies that impact on biodiversity in order to ensure that conservation and sustainable use objectives and principles are integrated into and promoted in the conduct of economic activities.

10.2.            Implement desertification and greening programmes.

10.3.            Integrating biodiversity loss and/or conservation into the systems of national accounts.

10.4.            Providing tax incentives to private sector and other institutions that invest in the development of technologies for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

10.5.            Educate and develop the capacity of our communities to implement biodiversity programmes and nurture the indigenous knowledge in this field, which has sustained many on this continent for years.

10.6.            Creating jobs through the environmental industry i.e. recycling programmes etc.


11.   The role of government

The role of government in enterprise development and job creation is to facilitate and encourage its development by removing all possible obstacles, creating an environment of entrepreneurial and small enterprise encouragement.  The evidence is that the government’s current small business and development agencies and initiatives are not delivering the expected results.  The UDM supports the following to rectify the current situation:

11.1.            UDM establish a Round Table Conference on Sustainable Development to advise and inform decision-makers on contentious issues facing South Africa.  The council will comprise representatives from labour, business, NGOs, civic associations, traditional institutions and the unemployed, and will ensure that the actions and policies of government respond to the needs and concerns of all South Africans

11.2.            Transparency in government decision making and accountability for those decisions, with zero tolerance of corruption at any time.

11.3.            Maintaining the independence of key institutions in the country, i.e. Judicial,  monetary, etc.

11.4.            Supporting equitable and fair taxation and fiscal incentives not only to encourage enterprise development, but to promote its growth and expansion too.  In this regard consideration must be given to tax concessions to investment funds to encourage them investing in fledgling small businesses and to provide management support to such undertakings.

11.5.            Encouraging labour legislation and taxation regimes, that will promote labour intensive production.

11.6.            Marketing South Africa as an attractive and safe investment opportunity by providing incentives and removing barriers that inhibit labour-intensive enterprise development.

11.7.            Immigration: legal immigrants can contribute greatly to enterprise development and growth and should be welcomed to this country.  Failure by Government to protect its citizens against unfair competition from illegal workers is unacceptable, and illegal immigration will be dealt with in a humane and holistic, but firm manner.  Some of the illegal immigration reflects an economic imbalance in the subcontinent and aggressive policies of regional economic development and growth should be put in place.

11.8.            Government agencies will only receive public funds for as long as they outperform other organisations.

11.9.            Agencies will be encouraged to outsource in a cost effective and competitive manner local government services like water, sanitation, etc.  Apart from the higher productivity and cost savings for the public, this will greatly assist in promoting sustainable job creation and enterprise development.

11.10.        The UDM also recognises the important role that local government can play in enterprise development.  Local government should provide resources for developing appropriate infrastructure for street traders and hawkers to support these fledgling entrepreneurs.  This will encourage their important role in the economy as well as contribute to job creation and enterprise development.


12.   The role of business

Established businesses have an essential role to play in encouraging and promoting enterprise development in South Africa.  The development and growth of small enterprises will contribute to the strengthening and growth of the South African economy.  More jobs will mean a stronger economy, with more consumers spending power and general demand for products.

The UDM will collaborate with business to promote enterprise development, encouraging them to:

12.1.            Include small, local producers and manufacturers as part of their supply channel when economically viable.

12.2.            Develop mentoring programmes. Establishing small-scale sub-contracting arrangements with local SMMEs while providing training and financial assistance to build upon their existing technical and manufacturing capabilities; improving the quality of the products and their delivery and ultimately creating successful, self-sufficient suppliers.

12.3.            Adopt a venture capital mind-set – providing seed money to local enterprises for which they would receive a share in the returns of the enterprise.

12.4.            Provide resources that can assist in enhancing the quality of education and improving the standards and abilities of the future workforce.  This can include leading lectures, advising on curriculum, training teachers, etc.

12.5.            Take responsibility for the further training and development of the employees.


13.   The role of labour

The UDM believes it is vital that the representatives of labour – both of the employed and unemployed – be engaged in formulating and implementing policies addressing the issue of job creation through enterprise development.  Millions of South Africans are locked out from job opportunities through entry barriers.  Our labour laws compel the current government and labour to compromise and are amenable to the introduction of lower-entry wages in order to alleviate the problem of unemployment.  This is especially relevant in the case of school leavers and unskilled rural and urban communities.  The employment of illegal immigrants for lower salaries, without it being queried by government or labour, while millions of South Africans are locked outside because of entry barriers is compounding the already untenable situation.  The UDM supports:

13.1.            Decentralising industrial relations system; those making the decision bear the responsibility of their decisions.

13.2.            Reviewing statutory wage requirements – working with stakeholders to set in place wage policies that encourage, (rather than discourage) job creation and which reflect the unique circumstances of specific provinces, areas and communities.

13.3.            Promoting productive and competitive policies vis-à-vis world standards.

13.4.            Promoting labour standards, which protect the rights of the individual, without restricting the creation of jobs and the development and growth of business, especially SMMEs.

Working with the Wage Board and the Industrial Councils to encourage growth of labour intensive undertakings; and to end the manipulation of labour market institutions by capital-intensive organisations.

[1] Grameen Bank provides capital only to groups of women.  The premise is that if one individual defaults the whole group is penalised, thus ‘collateralising’ the loan through peer pressure.