UDF 40th anniversary: Calls mount for active citizenry

The UDF is set to mark 40 years in its struggle for a just society. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela/IOL

The UDF is set to mark 40 years in its struggle for a just society. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela/IOL

Published Aug 17, 2023


Former United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders are adamant that the movement is not politically-inclined but rather seeks to unite communities.

Speaking ahead of the UDF’s 40th-anniversary this weekend, steering committee member Reverend Frank Chikane said in the past, the key value of the organisation was anchored in unity as people joined the movement to fight for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and just society.

“This simple yet powerful rallying call resonated with South Africans across diverse sectors, uniting all races in action - in the streets, factories, churches, schools, and universities. The international arena, too, shouted for the end of apartheid as a crime against humanity,” he said.

He indicated that government would those within the UDF seriously as long as they are organised.

“This 40th-anniversary celebration is to bring back this concept of active citizenry,” he said.

Celebrations are expected to take place at the City Hall in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Chikane said the event is aimed at celebrating the culture, tradition, and values of the UDF.

“We believe that 40 years later, many of those values, culture, and practices have been lost,” he said.

Furthermore, Chikane indicated that the celebrations would help initiate new, and sharpen existing campaigns for 'Active Citizenry' mobilisation through local and sectoral activities.

The UDF’s call to action, 'Building Active Citizenry for Transformation and Accountability', galvanises supporters to:

1. Celebrate and popularise the legacy of the UDF of striving for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic society in opposition to the apartheid dogma of divide-and-rule.

2. Profile the UDF's core value of 'unity in action' beyond narrow-minded sectarianism fortified by an unshakeable commitment to justice, equality, service to people, and respect, love, and care for all South Africans.

3. Revisit, record, commemorate, and celebrate key milestones and activities, such as the 1989 Defiance Campaign, that marked the beginning of the end of apartheid.

4. Use the opportunity to reflect on this legacy, not for its own sake, but on the extent to which the current situation in our country has deviated from those core principles as our driving force against apartheid.

5. Re-arm ourselves with those values and use them to constructively critique current harmful political practices and tendencies contrary to our Constitution's spirit.

6. Share lessons and experiences with particularly younger generations of activists and people committed to and yearning for the main-streaming of the ideals that defined the UDF.

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