Cape Town activist Mario Wanza (left) may face legal action from the founders of the UDF if he goes ahead with his bid to relaunch the organisation on Monday. With him is Amelia Septembe. Photo: Matthew Jordaan


Cape Town - Cape Town activist Mario Wanza has defied former heavyweights of the United Democratic Front (UDF), vowing to go ahead with the relaunch of the organisation on Monday in spite of their opposition.

Monday marks the 29th anniversary of the UDF’s launch in Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain in 1983. The UDF dissolved in 1990.

Wanza told the Cape Times that he was going ahead with his relaunch at the Rocklands Civic Centre. Before the launch, he said, a group would march with the UDF flag from Parliament to Rocklands.

In an open letter released over the weekend, prominent figures from the UDF, including Trevor Manuel, Valli Moosa, Pravin Gordhan, Zou Kota Fredericks, Jeremy Cronin, Nomaindia Mfeketo and Frank Chikane, said: “We regard ourselves as among the custodians of the rich and dynamic history of the UDF. Consequently, we must guard against the opportunistic and ahistorical use of the symbols of the UDF, especially for what appears to be nefarious interests.”

They said they had not been approached about a relaunch but if they had been asked they would have declined to participate.

“We have taken legal opinion on the intention of Mario Wanza, or any other individual or grouping purporting to act in the name of the UDF, and to make use of its symbols. We recognise that we cannot prevent any individual or grouping using the colours red, black and yellow; but we can prevent its use together with the name and logo of the UDF,” the letter said.

The leaders said “united”, “democratic” and “front” were carefully chosen and have huge symbolic meaning for South Africans.

“In short, no individual has the right to relaunch an entity whose leadership at the time, after consultation with affiliates and regions, took a democratic decision to dissolve. Of course, the democracy we won entitles individuals to establish and launch organisations of whatever nature, but no individual or group of individuals has the right to relaunch the United Democratic Front.”

Wanza said on Sunday: “It is sad that previous leaders are going to these extremes to shut up people’s voices. This is not about an individual relaunching the UDF, it’s about people who feel the need for the UDF to come back. People fought for the Freedom Charter and we are saying it’s time to go back to the Freedom Charter.”

At a UDF commemoration day in Paarl on Sunday, ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said: “The UDF became a vehicle which could intensify mass mobilisation. This is not just any history but a death-defying history. We fought for our freedom, lives were laid for this freedom.

“The UDF was an organ of the ANC and we must teach that history to people because there are people who are trying to hijack the UDF.”

Cape Times