statement by Deputy-National Secretary

In the interest of democracy, the removal of UDM posters in Imbali, KwaZulu Natal by ANC structures can not be tolerated. The UDM sees this incident in a very serious light and as a real threat towards free political activity in the run-up to the 1999 elections. Political intolerance by the ANC leadership, their structures and followers is experienced throughout the country. For an ANC leader to indicate that posters would “confuse” the community and that they do not know of any UDM members in that area, and that therefore the UDM should not advertise its rallies there, smacks of ignorance and arrogance. No single square meter of land in this country should be politically exclusive and inaccessible to any political party.

The constitutional rights of free political activity and access to information are grossly violated by this incident. The UDM calls on the President to indicate in no uncertain terms whether political parties will be guaranteed their right to canvass and have free access to all areas in the country. We further call on Thabo Mbeki as President of the ANC to educate and discipline the ANC leadership and their supporters in the basic principles of democracy. It is often the ANC leadership’s own intolerance towards criticism levelled at them by other political parties, that serves as a signal to their followers that it is acceptable to act in this way.

The UDM in KwaZulu Natal has already brought criminal charges against the ANC and this incident will also be brought to the attention of the IEC.