Two competing events were held at Rocklands Civic Centre to mark the 29th anniversary of the United Democratic Front (UDF) on Monday.
ANC provincial leaders and a handful of members held a low-key wreath-laying ceremony while a defiant Proudly Manenberg chairman Mario Wanza and seven others marched from Parliament to the Rocklands Civic Centre where Wanza “relaunched” the UDF.
Wanza went ahead with his “UDF Awakening” in the face of opposition from several of the former UDF heavyweights including Trevor Manuel and members of the provincial ANC leadership who have called him “opportunistic”.
His group wore UDF T-shirts with the old logo, and carried a banner and two flags.
Hours before Wanza arrived at Rocklands Civic Centre, a wreath-laying ceremony was attended by ANC Western Cape chairman, Marius Fransman, ANC provincial secretary, Songezo Mjongile, former premier Lynne Brown and a few ANC members.
Commenting on Wanza’s action, Fransman said it was “unacceptable” for others to relaunch the UDF.
“It is wrong, it is unacceptable and we will not tolerate the idea of relaunching the UDF. We cannot damage the image that brought us together. People can form another organisation but not under the name of the UDF.”
Brown said: “You cannot start another UDF without the people who were there at the time. The UDF’s purpose was very specific. The UDF was very carefully constructed after long discussions, and many, many organisations came together to fight apartheid under the banner of the UDF.”
Wanza said the aim of the relaunch was to go back to the ideals of the Freedom Charter which was adopted by the UDF.
“We still haven’t implemented the Freedom Charter. Our people are still suffering. The UDF is still necessary today, it is still relevant. We need the Freedom Charter and we must fight for it,” he said.
While walking through various Cape Flats areas along Klipfontein Road and Vanguard Drive, Wanza and others handed out pamphlets.
On arriving in Mitchells Plain he was met by supporters from Hanover Park, Manenberg, Villiersdorp and other areas.
In the Rocklands Civic Centre, some people wore UDF T-shirts with the slogan “The struggle continues, Forward to People’s Power” .
On the stage, a UDF banner formed the backdrop, which read: “UDF Awakening – 20 August 2012. Celebrating 29 years of struggle. Now is the Time, the People are governing”.
Wanza told the crowd: “We were faced with a threat of legal action against the people sitting here today. According to comrade Trevor Manuel and former members of the UDF, we cannot launch the UDF. They also make the point that this is Mario Wanza who wants the UDF back.”
He asked the crowd who wanted the UDF back and most of the 200 people stood up, shouting, “Viva UDF, Viva”.
“This isn’t a Mario Wanza thing, it is a peoples’ thing. It is the people who have suffered, the people who want a better life, the people who want safety and quality education for their children,” Wanza said.
He said marching from Parliament was making an important statement about taking the UDF back to Rocklands and to the people, where it belonged.
Simon McKenzie, chairman of the Villiersdorp Civic Association, said: “The UDF was never a political party, it was a mass movement fighting for the destruction of apartheid. We are still struggling today to undo many of those laws. We do not want to take on any political party, we want to take our communities out of the grip of poverty.”