statement by UDM President

The UDM made a further written submission to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs regarding the Electoral Bill. In its first submission, the UDM commented on the Electoral Bill and in its latest submission it concentrates on the burning issue of funding of political parties. Senior Council J.C. Heunis and Advocate A.M. Breitenbach prepared the UDM’s submission. (Submission to the Portfolio Committee is attached).

The UDM, because of the “anti-defection” clause in the Constitution is not represented in National Assembly or any of the nine Provincial Legislatures. That disqualifies the UDM from receiving funding from The Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 1997. This, despite market research that indicates the UDM to be the third largest political party together with the IFP in the country. Nine months after the launch of the UDM in September 1997, the UDM had more than 650 branches throughout the country and more than 50 000 paid up members.

The UDM has received funding and recognition from a number of international foundations, including the New South Africa Foundation (Netherlands) which funds political parties represented in Parliament but extended funding to the UDM after assessing the significant political role played by the UDM in South African politics.

The UDM also enjoys full recognition by all foreign missions to South Africa. It has held formal meetings with a wide range of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and foreign delegations and a number of foreign missions sent representatives to the UDM’s first national conference.

It is clear that the UDM is not a marginal party. The UDM is playing an important and still growing role in the development of multi – party democracy in South Africa as well as in the realignment of politics. Continuing less than a year before elections to fund only representative parties would be inimical to free and fair elections and the anti-discrimination provisions in the Constitution.

If Parliament fails to address this issue eloquently, the UDM will be compelled to launch urgent proceedings in the Constitutional Court.