United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa Picture: African News Agency

Name of Party: United Democratic Movement

Year Launched: 1997

Party Leader: Bantu Holomisa

What it believes: The UDM believes in the respect for life, dignity and human worth of every individual; integrity in public- and private life; the individual rights and freedoms enshrined in our country’s Constitution; tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of others. It also believes in, among other values, the freedom of religion and worship.

Previous notable leaders: Bantu Holomisa has been at the helm since the party's inception.

History in a nutshell: During his testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Bantu Holomisa made reference to a possible bribe that was paid to the former Prime Minister of Transkei, Chief George Matanzima and Miss Stella Sigcau, the then incumbent Prime Minister. Holomisa was expelled from the ANC because of these allegations. In November 1996 Holomisa publicly announced consulting South Africans on the need or not for a new political party. With this objective, the National Consultative Forum (NCF) was established on 8 February 1997. Bantu Holomisa and former National Party member Roelf Meyer (who had met previously, with Meyer still representing the National Party to discuss the process for a new movement) again met at Loftus Versfeld, in mid-1997, to discuss working together and agreed in principle to explore the possibility of formal cooperation. After joint committees and several meetings in July 1997 it was agreed that a new political party should be formed.

Praised for: The UDM was part of a Constitutional Court political party cohort comprising of the DA, Cope, EFF in the matter relating to former President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence. The parties had requested the high court to compel National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to take disciplinary against Zuma. In its judgement, Concourt ruled that Parliament had failed to do so.

Damned for: The conduct of its Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality mayor Mongameli Bobani who has been accused of politically interfering in the municipality's administration with the DA opening a criminal case against him. The Hawks also recently raided his home and the UDM last year asked the mayor to submit his bank statements as part of an internal inquiry. The party has also on numerous occasions questioned the validity of the many claims made against Bonani asking if these were not meant to discredit him.

Party icons: Leader: Bantu Holomisa; Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa: National Chairperson Zolisa Lavisa, Treasurer General; Bongani Msomi: National Treasurer Thandi Nontenja; National Organiser Bongani Phenyane

The UDM's position on 10 hot button issues:

LAND: The UDM maintains that slow delivery of land occurs due to ineffective government and maladministration, and not for ideological reasons. Therefore, the UDM commits itself to discourage the exploitation of the issue for political purposes, and to rather focus on proposing practical, non-political solutions.

HEALTH: The UDM proposes that Primary Health Care and HIV/AIDS should be elevated as the two major priorities, recognising that in these two areas the current government is failing to protect the constitutional rights of all South Africans. 

EDUCATION: the UDM supports free public education from primary school until Grade 12, as well as more Government assistance for students studying in select tertiary and professional subjects, such as Engineering, that will contribute to the overall economic and social development of the country. The financing for this initiative is proposed in UDM Economic Policy, which states that the projected decrease in income tax be put on hold and a ½ percent of this be specifically earmarked for a Skills Creation programme.

CRIME: The party says it will prioritise, firstly violent crime (murder, rape, assault, domestic violence), and secondly theft (especially armed robbery, hijacking/car theft and housebreaking). These priorities flow from the basic constitutional right to safety of person and property, to ensure that the freedom, dignity and respect of all South Africans are not violated by criminals. In the long term, the UDM says it will implement Social Crime Prevention to address the root causes of crime. 

STATE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT: The UDM proposes the rapid expansion of the role of Local Government, as the sphere of government that is closest to the people. It says the equitable share of revenue that is allocated to Local Government must be increased to ensure that development and delivery at community level becomes a reality.

TRANSPORT: A UDM Government will strive for excellence in making sure that all modes of transport are the safest way of travel, including safe and efficient infrastructure. Roads, in particular, will be maintained in good condition at all times including signage as it is our belief that if every road user would comply with properly constructed roads and road signage there would be a dramatic decrease in accidents.  

ECONOMY: The party says South Africa needs a new economic plan. It intends to place the faltering economy on a higher growth path and says its particular economic policy focuses on job creation with two broad strategy pillars, namely small business development and planned sustainable development aimed at infrastructure delivery.

CORRUPTION: The party believes that corruption, especially in government, coupled with inefficiency and apathy, has eroded the capacity of government to deliver on its most immediate mandates. ‘As a result, the most vulnerable amongst us have been robbed of opportunities for development and advancement."

HOUSING: The UDM’s policy framework will meet the housing challenges in a sustainable, qualitative and developmental manner geared at providing adequate and decent housing for the nation. That means that houses without jobs are not acceptable, and one/two room houses are morally and socially wrong. Housing strategy will be in line with the Planned Sustainable Development programmes proposed in the UDM Economic and Public Works policies which will be driven by the government through the Department of Public Works. 

WATER AND SANITATION: The UDM says if elected into power its government will ensure close cooperation between the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry, Agriculture and Land, as well as Environmental Affairs and Tourism, under the auspices of the Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development (as proposed in UDM Economic Policy). It is in favour of developing a water system that not only provides for current needs but is also capable of coping with increased future consumption.

* Compiled by Noni Mokati

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