statement by Bantu Holomisa and Roelf Meyer

In Rustenburg this afternoon, Bantu Holomisa and Roelf Meyer, joint leaders of the UDM, addressed 3 000 supporters at a rally organised by the North West provincial structures of the UDM.

Amidst cheering and numerous vivas! from the crowd, Holomisa stressed the importance of the UDM’s economic policy in closing the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ by taking care of the huge national problem of unemployment. Regarding the relationship between the mine workers’ union Mouthpiece and the UDM, he reiterated the Movement’s position that no alliance between the UDM and any workers’ union is presently on the cards. He stressed, however, that individual members of unions are ‘most welcome’ to join the UDM. He added that there are also members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) who have already joined the UDM. This, he said, will likely be to remain the official policy of the UDM until after the national elections of 1999. He also criticised the mine workers’ violence in the North West Province, stressing the need for a peaceful settlement of grievances.

Roelf Meyer criticised the national Parliament for the procedures adopted in voting the Promotion of Multi-Party Democracy Bill through the parliamentary committee on Constitutional Affairs. The Bill aims at providing and regulating state funding for political parties, and makes provision only for those parties already represented in Parliament. It is, Meyer said, ‘further gravy for the existing gravy train.’ Although the UDM had requested an opportunity to make an oral representation, arguing that the effect of the Bill will be to keep the playing field as uneven as possible against those not yet represented in Parliament, this request was handled in such a way that it virtually gave the UDM little if any chance of participating in the debate.

‘It is understandable that parties represented in the Committee would feel threatened by a newcomer with the clear potential to unsettle their support bases’, he said. ‘What is unacceptable and reprehensible, however, is that an institution of Parliament should assist the parties’ obstruction by denying access to the UDM through its highly dubious procedural arrangements.’ He put on record the UDM’s strongest protest against these arrangements, adding that it is no permanent set-back, as the UDM will definitely be represented in Parliament after 1999.

At a media conference at the conclusion of the rally, Holomisa appealed for an independent commission of inquiry into violence on the mines, which should exclude government, because the NUM as a government ally should already be represented. The terms of reference of the Commission should be look at the circumstances surrounding the violence and how best to manage the situation. Get the politicians out of the way, he said, also referring to President Mandela’s unsuccessful attempts to broker peace in this field.

Referring to the PAC’s Patricia de Lille’s revelation of top-notch ANC politicians as ‘apartheid spies’, Holomisa commended her for her courage, adding that the ANC handled the matter in a very doubtful way.

Roelf Meyer explained that the policies of the UDM are at present being fleshed out, and that the final policy positions should find the best and most effective answers for South Africa’s most pressing problems. We should set ourselves a target of finding these answers and making South Africa a world-class nation in ten years’ time, he said. In this, he added, government is not showing any clear direction. Policy-wise, GEAR can’t be faulted, but it is not working down to grassroots level. GEAR is good, he said, but where are the jobs? There is also no proper delivery of crucial services throughout the country, he added.

Holomisa attacked the way in which the ANC government is managing the important issue of privatisation. For three years now, he said, government has been talking about the issue, and if this process is to continue in the way it is doing at present, ‘we are going the mortgage the country by 1999.’

Responding to a question, Holomisa said that he believes that there was an ANC clique behind his ousting from the ANC. This clique, he added, ‘exploited Madiba’s kindness’ in getting the President to act against him.