statement by the Co-leaders of the UDM

In the run-up to the 1994 elections and shortly thereafter South Africa was in a state of euphoria. Everybody was expecting a political heaven. That also set the table for the years to follow. The main expectations were that the fate of the majority would improve. Politics suddenly had a new set of rules and it was expected of existing parties to be part of a new type of politics.

Soon it became clear that the promises made were unrealistic. That government could not comply with the growing spiral of expectations. On paper we have a highly acclaimed constitution, in theory South Africa was far on the road of establishing a democratic basis. However, the spirit was not adhered to. We experienced continuous racism from all sides, polarisation is growing and intimidation is a reality of our political operations. There was a clear inability to adapt the politics to fit the requirements. If we look back on the past four years we see that political parties with long histories and from a specific order were so set in their ways that leaders and supporters new only about one way to play the game.

It is especially the NP and the ANC that is struggling with this. The NP inspite of having new and young leadership remains part of the old Apartheid order politics. They still think, look and act as apartheid politicians. They still think in racial terms. Their policy remains captured in the protection of a small minority’s exclusive rights. This they do at the cost of issues of national interest.

The ANC is still struggling to transform from liberation movement to government. There is internal conflict on policy issues such as GEAR. This results that the ANC’s energy is focused internally and that issues of National interest suffer as a result of that.

The DP remains nothing more than a small dog, barking non stop, seemingly having all the answers but totally unable to grasp the realities of South African and African politics.

If one looks back on the political scene over the past four years, the one thing that does stand out is the inability of political parties to manage change and the realities that came with it. Some even took conscious decisions not to adapt to the ever-changing environment.

This is where the UDM enters the scene. We are seeking for a solution, seeking to manage these changes in the interest of all in South Africa. The UDM provides hope for practical, innovative solutions. South Africans are looking for a party that can face up with reality and that is not blinded by the old set of rules. The UDM believes that politics is like an ecological system: each organism is interdependent from the next for its survival. The time for separate issues for separate interests are over, the time for racial politics have long past. Polarisation belongs to the years of apartheid.

The next year that lies ahead the political temperature will rise as we move closer to the elections. We observe that in the desperate seeking of alliances amongst old order political parties. The NP, DP and the IFP realise that their survival depends on so called cooperation. The reality is that that would mean very little more than 15% support for the opposition, which would make no dent in the ANC’s force of power. Democracy is about more than just opposing the ANC – it is about bringing down the support of the ANC. The National Party and its possible alliance partners can not mobilize support away from the ANC.

The only way to make sure that democracy in the country survives in South Africa is to systematically bring down the power control of the ANC. Providing the average person with a workable and creditable alternative must achieve that. This is where the UDM will play its role. Market research and the ANC’s own agenda in dealing with the UDM confirms that.

The circumstances under which politics will be practiced the next 12 months will be very difficult. Old order political parties must defend their 1994 acquired positions. They will fall back on intimidation and “fear politics. The UDM is committed to democratic politics and we will guard jealously over the rights of all South Africans to freely and without fear make their political choices.