Statement by Cornelia September on 25th UDF Celebrations

21 August 2008

On 20 August 1983, thousands of activists and community leaders from across the country gathered at Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchell's Plain to launch the UDF. They represented civics, youth, students, women, unions, religious, professional and a range of other organisations, all united by a common opposition to apartheid. The front character enabled it to unite the broadest range of forces, as it deepened the pillar of internal mass mobilisation. This tactic of broadening the front of struggle while at the same time deepening struggle has been used consistently throughout the history of our country.

The formation of the United Democratic Front was a realization of the command issued by former President of the African National Congress in 1983, when he said the following. 'For us to achieve victory, it is essential that the masses of our people engage in struggle as a conscious and united force. That requires that these masses must have their own democratic organisations to mobilise and guide them and through which they can themselves make their own point of view heard."

In the short time of its existence, the UDF gave form and coherence to struggles ranging from the most local of issues, to broad national political demands for the unbanning of the ANC, release of political prisoners and an end to apartheid. The achievements of the United Democratic Front demonstrate the importance of a united action.

I thank you!

Cornelia September
Chairperson of the Water Affairs PC
Tel: 021 403 3034