• National and Provincial leaders of the UDM,
• Regional and Local UDM leaders,
• UDM Public Representatives
• Members of the United Democratic Movement

1. Ascendancy Profile – organisational programme for 2017

The National Council of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), held on the 3rd of December 2016, took the time to discuss the challenges we would face in the wake of the August 2016 Municipal Elections and to map the way forward towards the 2019 National and Provincial Elections and beyond.

The National Council took several important decisions, amongst others, that it is a priority for the Party to re-organise our structures starting with the basic organisational building blocks i.e. the branches. Our Constitution is clear on the life-cycles of executive committees at the various structural levels, but the National Council deemed it necessary for us to “start from scratch” and that we should do so as soon as possible.

In this regard, the UDM’s National Secretariat has declared 2017 as the year to revive Party structures from branch-level, right up to provincial-level.

The implication of this massive exercise is that we must launch our branches, as well as regional and provincial structures in accordance with the UDM Constitution and do so within a very short space of time.

In order to reach critical mass, a minimum of 60 branches must be launched, and should pass stringent audit, before a Region may qualify to host a Congress. Such Regional Congresses must happen by the end of May 2017. The Provincial Congress of the UDM in the Eastern Cape must in in turn happen by June. This means a lot of work has to be done.

This task requires that the UDM in the Nelson Mandela Bay Region, must develop a concrete and clear programme of action that is aligned to our Ascendancy Profile, to map your road towards launching your branches, hosting a Regional Congress when you will elect regional leadership.

Your programme of action must for instance:
• Tally the number of existing branches that are in good standing;
• Depict the number of branches that must be re-launched;
• Identify areas where new branches can be established and launch such new branches;
• Compile recruiter packs to assist our field-workers to renew membership and register new members;
• List the dates, times and venues of new branch launch meetings or the annual general meetings of existing branches;
• Consider the practical deployment of regional leadership to oversee each branch launch or re-launch;
• Once a branch has been launched, the Branch Secretary must ensure that the required paperwork is submitted to the provincial and national offices timeously.
• Although branches may still be launched, no branch will be considered for auditing and may not participate in any congress, if their Q1-forms are submitted after the 4-week deadline.
• Define clear achievable timeframes for each of the activities in the programme of action.

Most important is the daily activities of the UDM membership at a branch-level. Given that our branches should be demarcated in line with the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) Voting Districts (VDs), it requires that our daily activity plan is based on the needs of the people in a particular VD and/or in a particular ward.

To be able to recruit new members and renew existing membership, our strategies of engaging communities must be relevant to the issues that affect their daily lives. We must have daily activity plans that places the UDM at the centre of the lives of the citizens in the VD and/or ward where they reside.

During the 2016 Municipal Elections, our slogan was: Put Communities First! This is still our prevailing message working towards 2019 and beyond. Therefore, our daily activities as members of UDM must be about the issues that affect a particular community, for example:
• water leakages, potholes and/or broken street-lamps,
• lack of houses and toilets,
• poor spatial development,
• access roads and bridges,
• crime, gangs and community safety in general,
• drug and alcohol abuse,
• well stocked and equipped health facilities,
• access to basic education and adult education programmes,
• refuse removal and pest control,
• clean community spaces such as parks and cemeteries,
• safe areas for children to interact,
• access to ID cards and assistance with child or old-age grants,
• community projects such as vegetable gardens and safe harbours for victims of domestic abuse,
• in other words, any issue affecting the daily life of the people on the ground.

This is the programme of action for all UDM members and structures, and you are called upon to plan and implement it immediately as soon we conclude this Regional Council.

2. Coalition government in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality

As you are aware, after the 2016 Municipal Elections, the UDM took the correct decision to be part of the Coalition Government of Opposition Parties. We entered into a five-year agreement which I had signed as the President of the UDM.

In this regard, we affirm our commitment to the coalition government of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and will do everything possible to make it succeed in the service of the people of this area.

When we took this decision, we were fully aware of the inherent challenges of a coalition government, but we respected the decision of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay who said, through a democratic process, that they were tired of an African National Congress (ANC) dominated local government.

It is not in the ANC’s interest to have this coalition government succeed and we are aware of their desperate attempts to recapture control of this municipality through devious and dirty means. The UDM shall never capitulate and cooperate with them.

It was widely reported that there recently was so-called “tension” between the Democratic Alliance’s Executive Mayor and the UDM’s Deputy Executive Mayor. The ANC did everything in their power to blow the matter out of proportion and drive a wedge into this relationship. For your information, there was an administrative misunderstanding that did not threaten a collapse of governance in the metro.

The UDM shall always focus on serving the entire community of Nelson Mandela Bay and shall not be led astray by attempts to rock the boat.

3. The work of the UDM in Council

Regarding the work of our councillors, one of the urgent issues we must agitate for is the Minister’s well-published allocation of R4 billion towards human settlements. We must work with the Council to demand to see this budget and the implementation programme.

Also, on the eve of elections, the ANC administration passed a very populist indigent policy known as the Assistance to the Poor and Rebates policy (ATTP) that has resulted in the bankruptcy of the municipality. They passed this policy in order to attract votes, but residents had already made up their minds that the ANC had lost the plot.

UDM councillors must work collectively with their colleagues in the coalition government to find urgent solutions on these matters.

The UDM must be at the forefront of rooting out every vestige of ANC corruption and maladministration in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Municipality. Our councillors must be seen to unambiguously fight for the eradication of all forms of corruption. This is consistent with what I had said during the Parliamentary debate on the State of the Nation (SONA).

In order to put the people if Nelson Mandela Bay first, our councillors must be at all Council meetings and participate in its activities. They must make constructive and qualitative contributions, and focus on strategic issues. All meetings – whether it’s a committee meeting and/or a full Council sitting – must quorate and must take decisions in service of the people.

UDM councillors must, when such is required, seek guidance from the leadership of the Party. They must also ensure that they secure proper and qualified technical support as provided for in the Council regulations.

Because this is a municipality where the UDM occupies the second highest office, I personally commit to pay a special attention to our work in Council and regularly report to the national leadership.

We must not lose momentum or focus. We must harness the energy we’ve generated thus far and use it to find solutions to the challenges facing the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.

4. Working for communities and making communities work
4.1. Putting Communities First: participation in ward committees
To achieve our organisational vision and mission, and to make a positive impact on our communities, UDM members must be part of ward committees. Don’t let the ANC scupper our efforts in the Metro by allowing them to hijack ward committees.

We must be pro-active and active to raise the issues that affect the people through the correct channels provided for in Council.

4.2. Putting Communities First: review of the IDP
The review of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the financial year 2017/18 is underway. Therefore, as part of the coalition government, our task is to know the issues people want pushed in each ward. We must take those to the IDP forums for discussion, integration and budget allocation.

We must call for Ward Based Development Plans and budgets. The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal IDP and budget must be as collection and integration of ward based needs.

We must never fail to carry-out this is a task if we are to be true to our manifesto.

5. The UDM’s 20th Anniversary

On 27 September 2017, the UDM shall mark the 20th anniversary of its existence. We will celebrate this achievement by reviewing our policies and repositioning the UDM at centre stage of the South African political landscape and discourse.

As we announced in our contribution to the State of the Nation Address debate, we have already begun with our preparations for a National Consultative Conference.

We want to give opportunity to South Africans of all backgrounds to play a role and bear influence on the UDM. We want to update and reshape our policies as guided by our vision, mission and party platform; and always honour of our Country’s Constitution.

We have always promoted the idea that: Government must do more. This is consistent with our principle of Putting Communities First, before ourselves, which is in contrast with the political fashion of today.

The UDM is not about individual leaders; it is about the people and therefore, our policy review process will take into cognisance this important principle.

6. Towards 2019 National and Provincial Elections

The work we must do in terms of our Ascendency Profile, as well as our work in this Municipality’s Council, must lay a firm foundation for a formidable campaign for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections.

In addition to all of the work already mentioned, we must begin now to:
• Identify persons to be our party agents and train them,
• Ensure that we participate in by-elections where we can make a difference;
• Encourage and assist people to get identity cards;
• Encourage new voters to register with the IEC at the offices of the Municipal Electoral Officer;
• Know where all the Voting Stations are, in all wards;
• Participate in the demarcation processes of the Demarcation Board;
• Appoint members to the Municipal Party Liaison Committee (MPLC) and attend all MPLC meetings;
• Train all branch members as UDM canvassers;
• Get the current voter’s roll and monitor the movement of voters from one VD to another;
• Pick up on issues that will constitute our manifesto for 2019;

With this work, we must continue the fight against corruption, the arrogance of power and the dominance of the ANC. The voice of the people as expressed in 2016 must be heard and realised in 2019. We must aim for better performance.

7. Conclusion

On behalf of the national leadership of the UDM, I wish you very fruitful discussions and please, make sure that you represent your party and conduct yourselves in accordance with our Constitution.

Good luck and thank you!