Speech at the First Birthday Celebration of the United Democratic Movement by Bantu Holomisa - UDM President (29 September 1998)

At the launch of the UDM on the 27 September 1998, the leadership was mandated to set up organisational structures that would spread the political mission of our new movement. The thousands of people gathered here today, from all nine provinces of SA are a living testimony to our success in carrying out that mandate. It is humbling to know that people were not just bussed in here to make up the numbers, but rather pay for themselves and came to our celebrations in response to the mobilising and organising drive of our leadership structures at all levels of our party.

We know the personal sacrifices you have made in order to attend these celebrations today. The true historical significance of your sacrifices is that you have demonstrated that despite the governments arrogant and unjust refusal to allow us our rightful election - fund share as tax payers, in our own country, we will succeed on our own meager resources in the 1999 general elections. Over the last eleven months our organising department has issued to all our provincial structures more than a 100 000 (hundred thousand) 25 membership cards. It is pleasing to note that the majority of the provinces have finished those books. You are therefore called upon to balance your books and be ready to renew the membership of our supporters.

Despite the peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa through the 1994 elections which were declared free and fair at home and abroad, there are already serious economic and political problems in the country, which threaten to undermine the democratic transformation.

Today we celebrate the birth of the UDM which has a vision and a mission that makes it the political home to all who live in South Africa. As we all know, at the birth of the UDM many of us were hopeless and demoralised because of the general state of poverty, crime, unemployment and corruption. A year later things are getting worse and the government departments have shown no will or know how in addressing these critical social ills. Through hindsight it is clear that we were correct to establish the UDM because the situation is fast deteriorating into a frightening abyss of chaos and anarchy. This is shown by the daily reports in the media of callous murders of farmers on their own properties, raping of children, the breakdown of discipline in schools, escalating unemployment levels and incidents of government corruption at all levels with the government neither prepared nor willing to admit inability to deal with these problems.

Poverty levels are rising, confidence in the ability of the governing party to get its act together is diminishing. Added to this is the fear of the impending departure of President Mandela where after South Africa would loose a great deal of status and influence internationally.

Despite Mandela's admirable efforts to sell his successor internationally, people on the ground have a different picture of things to come, i.e. increasing crime, violence, unemployment, homelessness, corruption, nepotism, and general instability. Already, foreign investors are applying a wait and see attitude. They are asking whether Deputy President Mbeki will run the country or the Alliance partners who have openly defied him on his GEAR policy.

The situation currently is compounded by the absence of an economic policy that sustains all South Africans. The present government's economic policy which is even disowned by the governments own allies is not anywhere in addressing these social ills. Their so-called GEAR policy has the following problems:

  1. Created profits for export without domestic investments,
  2. Abandonment of RDP agenda accepted by all after thorough consultation
  3. No commitment to social services such as health, education and welfare,
  4. Unemployment and retrenchments in all sectors;
  5. Lack of commitment to human capacity development.

It is therefore clear from the above that Gear has shortcomings which affect the majority of South Africans. The positive economic growth in 1995/6 can best be described as early successes of inheritance. Indeed Gear as it is now, does depend on a lot of goodwill and some luck.

To this end, the UDM realises that as a first step towards achieving our vision, we must narrow the gap between those that have and those that do not have. The gap can only be effectively narrowed if all and everyone in society benefit. Our policies will have to ensure the enlarging of the economic "cake" by expanding production opportunities and enhancing human development without impoverishing the wealth creators. The key is to establish and implement policies which empower all South Africans.

In our National Congress held in Johannesburg on 27 June 1998 the UDM Congress endorsed a need to vigorously pursue policies which encourage and open-up opportunities for individuals, single households, or groups of people to start and sustain their own small businesses. Through these, they will empower and enrich themselves materially and spiritually, provide work to others in their communities and enhance the general well being of their society. As a result therefore, UDM will drive a policy of enterprise development as the answer to unemployment. We will apply the integrative policy approach that simultaneously addresses all those issues that are inhibiting job creation today, so that South Africa becomes a hard working and a winning nation.

The key issues that relate to job creation are: enterprise development: civil order: access to capital: basic education and skills training: land ownership: tourism and environment and the respective roles of government, business and labour. The implementation of these policies would require a government that recognises it, has the responsibility to lay them down. The state has a moral and legal obligation to its people and cannot allow the destiny of its citizens to be decided by an economy that is dominated by stocks and bonds as these themselves alone do not necessarily entail investments and empowering of the poor against poverty and social deprivation. For example, in the last four years only 25% of foreign capital has gone to direct investment in the economy, hence the escalating unemployment levels. Most importantly, the restoration of civil order is needed to ensure a stable society in which an entrepreneurial spirit and productive enterprise can develop and flourish.

While we appreciate that globalisation is the international context of all economies in the world, we need to make a commitment which puts the needs and interests of our own people first in all our policies. Our immediate painful past must not be glossed over when our policies are being developed. However, the ANC government has neglected our people to the pitiful state of poverty through unemployment and retrenchments because the government’s economic policies and strategies to deal with challenges of globalisation are not based on a commitment to deal with the needs of our people. The Gear is silent about the plight of 60% of our population who do not have access to capital. It is no secret that the past apartheid economic policies did not cater for blacks, they were just employed as teachers, civil servants, policemen etc. Therefore, the pending retrenchments of 55000 civil servants after the elections in June next year will exacerbate the already untenable situation amongst the black.

Compounding the economic situation in this country is a current system of institutionalised corruption and crime which have forced many to invest their monies outside the country. Others are immigrating in search of better opportunities and lack of confidence in government's ability to deal with crime. The UDM does not believe that these fears are born out of a lack of patriotism as suggested by President Mandela. On the contrary we believe that they are patriotic statements in condemnation of a government’s security, safety and judicial systems that make heroes out of criminals and refuses to implement tougher measures against those who commit crimes against the innocent and especially vulnerable in our country. The UDM vision encourages that the people of South Africa should unite and work as a team so that they can collectively participate in the transformation process of our institutions and thereby become a winning nation.

Most investors see the "deployment" of ANC and COSATU leaders only (as per ANC NEC decision) in business as a threat because it means companies are forced to employ on their managerial staff people deployed by the ANC who could not get positions in government. This pattern of corruption undermines the equity bill and affirmative action policies, which seeks to level the playing field not for ANC and its Allies only but for all South Africans.

Those who immigrate have no choice and are no less patriotic than anyone of us. They do so because they dislike being instructed to create special political appointment opportunities in their companies for ANC deployed officials in disregard of many professional blacks who qualify for jobs.

The overall effects of our government's economic policies and the accompanying pattern of institutionalised corruption and high rates of crime is that the country has no capacity of its own to withstand any external shocks and challenges of globalisation.

The public will recall that when the government published its budget this year, the UDM stated, categorically, that this was a false budget and that it would be impossible to implement it. Hardly few months after that the government admitted that it was difficult to implement some of the more fundamental delivery projects such as maintenance of roads and schools, let alone building the new ones. As in many social services projects which South Africans were promised in the RDP, the government has not only failed but has lied and betrayed the trust which South Africans pinned on it in 1994.

The UDM demands the building of roads, schools, clinics and updating of police services. These projects are long over due. We condemn the government practice of only employing ANC card carrier members on government projects and demand that all people, irrespective of their political affiliations, be accorded the same employment opportunities and service delivery.

On more than one occasion, the government has adjusted MP salaries to offset the negative effects of inflation on their earnings. By contrast the Minister of Welfare and Pensions only increased by R20 in April and R10 this coming October, the pension allowances of our most vulnerable and needy old-age citizens who have hardly any other sources of support. These increases cannot go far enough to cushion people against inflation. We ask that the concern with MP's protection against inflation be extended to the rest of South African old-age pensioners and not be restricted to the few whose salary packages are already astronomical and unjustified.

The people of this region (Transkei) should also demand that the government must continue the project of bringing clean water to every household as was started by the DBSA and Transkei government then. By 1994 we had already serviced 6 magisterial districts such as Lusikisiki, Lady Frere etc. There is no need to do another feasibility study. The implementation of bringing clean water to this region was meant to have been finalised by the year 2000. What happened to that plan? Transkei region alone has 28% water capacity of Southern Africa through rivers of this area. What the ANC government is doing now, is to selectively put bore holes in areas where they think the ANC is strong. The UDM therefore demands from the ANC government a culture of delivery and equal treatment of all citizens across the board.

A party like ours, which has limited resources, must rely on the discipline and commitment of its members. Our members must make sure that we cover every Ward and area to build branches. We must assist people in their registration for ID's and in voter education in general so that the ANC maybe proved wrong in its lies that these activities are done only by itself.

Our immediate target is to intensify the launching of UDM branches throughout the country. The compilation of election lists for UDM is not a priority. We need to build anywhere and everywhere so that where there is a councillor (UCEBA) there is a UDM branch or branches.

Our election list will be chosen by the UDM branches themselves and their job will be to find people they know and can trust and include them in the election list. The experience of Lesotho where a governing party is accused of having rigged the elections requires us to be vigilant for the forthcoming elections. Every branch would have to familiarise itself with the demarcations, the venues of the election points. The UDM structures must participate in all the IEC structures, be it at national, provincial, regional, local or branch levels.

The forthcoming elections are going to be about:

  • choice between crime and safety
  • job creation and unemployment
  • job security and retrenchments
  • corruption in government or good governance
  • respect and support for our traditional leaders
  • institutions or societal chaos and breakdown of values
  • farm killings or protection and promotion of security
  • and safety for the farmers.

I know that none of our UDM members celebrate our birthday by cutting throats of innocent farmers, raping children or engaging in robberies. Our most sacred birthday present to prosperity and our children is UNITY and PEACE as we build a prosperous democratic South Africa.

You will remember that I mentioned that the UDM is the political home of all South Africans. It is in that spirit that Traditional leaders and Religious leaders feature so prominently in our activities. These leaders are in their own respective ways guardians of the values that we espouse in our vision and mission. The centrality of their role in the UDM is reflected in their involvement in all our structures. In the same vain youth and women's structures are important integrated structures of our movement. The UDM is defined within a constitutional framework that is singular and directly includes youth and women whose existence and work is defined by this single constitution. As a result the youth and women structures of the UDM are preparing for their respective national conferences in November and December in Bloemfontein.

Your supreme challenge and task is to UNITE, BUILD AND WIN. Make this a passion that distinguishes you from other political parties in South Africa. Our greatest weapon should be discipline and diligence at all costs. Our membership will always be challenged as youth, women, students, elderlies, teachers, civil servants, security services and organised labour. In our national conference in June this year we passed a resolution which stated that workers should resist being dictated to in the manner in which they vote for political parties.

We therefore condemn the continuous harassment by COSATU who demand that our members should pay for the ANC's election costs and that they should vote for the ANC. One of our challenges in South Africa is the need to examine the labour Act. There is an urgent need to accommodate the input of unemployed workers when we talk about job creation and enterprise development, always bearing in mind that the best starting point should be the needs of the people and this is what has been forgotten in Gear. Our aim in the UDM is to create jobs and self-employment. The implementation of such a policy demands a commitment for flexibility from business and organised labour to take into account the special needs of the unemployed and emerging small businesses.

If our domestic policies must be informed by normative principles which seek to address the needs of all South Africans in the spirit of reconciliation and peace, our foreign policy must reflect those same values in our interactions with others.

However, sadly for the people of South Africa, we have a government whose foreign policy on a large number of critical issues rests on the decisions of individuals hand picked from time to time as the Deputy-President wishes. The involvement of our soldiers in the Lesotho debacle is a case in point. The UDM strongly condemns the unconstitutional deployment of our soldiers and invasion of Lesotho. The manner in which South African troops were deployed in Lesotho has received strong condemnation from Lesotho and people of South Africa.

The honourable position by our government is for President Mandela and his deputy Mbeki who authorised the invasion, to accept all the consequences and the moral responsibility for the suffering and damage caused in Lesotho and then immediately withdraw from Lesotho and allow SADC and Lesotho to choose an acceptable process for the resolution of that conflict, even if it means South Africa will be replaced by another SADC member to ensure the so-called stability. President Mandela and his government owe an apology to the people of Lesotho and South Africa. They should know by now that their bellicose and arrogant approach to Lesotho incident has shamed our country. South Africa's regional hegemonic ambitions are a disgrace to the people of this region and continent.

The people of South Africa must refuse to be used as pawns in this unjust war of egos. The SADC agenda for co-operation and mutual assistance in areas of economic development and democratisation can only progress through initiatives based on consensus and consultations by all stakeholders.

The deployment of troops in Lesotho without warning South Africans and people of Lesotho or the world can only mean one thing, that is, that there was an INVASION OF A SOVEREIGN STATE by a foreign country. It was not a peace - keeping force, nor are we impressed by the shabby manner in which South Africa was involved beginning with the discredited commission itself. How do you agree to initiate a commission as a trusted friend, then report to a third partner first about the commission's findings, then instruct these parties to invade people who asked for assistance and then take a hasty trip to watch athletics at far away exotic locations while our troops are dying and killing our neighbours who only yesterday offered us refuge. This makes the whole idea of an African renaissance a fuss and a nightmare especially if the mechanism for its enforcement is through military force. We hope that this will serve as a message that most countries are correct in having one foreign minister instead of six who have contributed to this fiasco.

South African government is also called upon to pay their immediate attention to the food shortage in Lesotho, as a result of their failed and embarrassing invasion.

Our own experience in negotiating a peaceful transition to a democratic dispensation in South Africa should serve as a guiding principle in any mediation role in conflict situations when called upon to assist. It is in recognition of this experience that our neighbours and the international community have accepted our leadership role in initiating diplomatic measures to resolve regional conflict in SADC.

But the military deployment of our troops in Lesotho without consulting the interested parties in Lesotho has caused confidence in this country to wane. As we speak today SADC is divided as a result of CONGO and LESOTHO problems. There is no doubt that SADC image would never be the same again. The investors will be reluctant to come to this region. The UDM therefore, propose a consultative forum of all parties who are in favour of democracy and development in SADC region so that similar military interventions in the affairs of member states maybe exposed by people who stand to lose most. This proposed forum should include all political parties (ruling and opposition parties), business people, labour, religious leaders, traditional leaders and non-governmental organisations. This proposed forum will enable the members to adhere to the spirit of the OAU and UN in their deliberations.

The current SADC policymaking process is flawed and is subject to individual and selfish political agendas. Perhaps, the model of the European Union can go a long way in improving the working relationship amongst SADC member states. The proposed SADC forum will enable the member states to focus on the issue of democratisation, peace and African development rather than political competition and involve in war of egos, as is currently the case. History has shown us that it was because of collective actions that the liberation movements of Eastern and Southern Africa working jointly with the frontline states and through the OAU and UN were able in the 1960's and 70's to remove the remnants of white colonial rule in our region. These channels enabled African people to work as partners and in consultation with all involved members and international communities.

It is in the interest of all people in SADC that opposition political parties involve themselves in the activities of their own governments in order to safeguard against the promotion of unmandated agendas by member states.

It is a known fact in South Africa that after the 1990 coup attempt against our government in the Transkei I as the head of that government, demanded a thorough investigation on the South African apartheid government's involvement in that failed coup. I again, in 1996 reported to the TRC that this matter should be investigated especially in the light of alleged involvement of my predecessors.

You will recall that on the 22 May 1996 amongst other matters, which I covered in my testimony to the TRC, I stated that the abortive coup was part of urgent requests made by my predecessors to then RSA government to remove us from power by force.

For the record and in the interest of bringing the truth to our people who are certainly told lies about our track record in Transkei especially by the ANC and their apologists. (Play a cassette version of 1989 news bulletin) I will quote what I said in my testimony to the TRC:

" When Chief George Matanzima, then Prime Minister of Transkei, refused to step down as a result of his implication in financial scandals, the Transkei Defence Force intervened and forced him out of politics. A new Prime Minister, Miss Stella Sigcau, was elected. We discovered that Chief Matanzima was paid R2 million as a bribe for exclusive gambling rights. Bank statements were obtained from the Bank of Transkei which showed that some of the senior Ministers and Paramount Chief K.D. Matanzima had each received a sum of R50 000 00. This created curiosity among the TDF ranks, that is, lower ranks, including troops, up to Senior Officers as to why the amount was devised among politicians if it was destined for Chief George Matanzima only.

On the morning of 31 December 1987, all ranks of the TDF took a decision to remove the government of Miss Stella Sigcau since she was also a recipient of the R500 000. In the context of South African politics the move by the TDF was construed in various ways even by the recipients themselves. The TDF insisted that all culprits be brought before the Courts of law where their fate was to be decided. The toppling of former politicians prompted them to approach Pretoria for the forcible removal of the Military Government from power.

To counteract these moves, the Military Government started implementing the recommendations of the Commissions of Inquiry by bringing people like Chief George Matanzima and others to our Courts of Justice. He was sentenced to nine years for his involvement in housing projects".

To my knowledge this matter has not been investigated by the TRC and instead what we hear are noises from the ANC calling for the arrest of alleged killers of these coup plotters. No reference is made to the circumstances surrounding the staging of the abortive coup.

Only last week an individual who was responsible for delivering weapons to the leaders of the coup against the government of the then Transkei has come forward and confessed his role. This person has now applied for amnesty from the TRC. On the 17th of September he has indicated to us as leaders of the UDM that he is willing to tell the truth on the coup attempt, and the role played by his Vlakplaas unit on the instructions of the then South African Army. It is on the basis of this revaluation that I want to invite all commanders of armed operations of the then Transkei security forces, families of the victims and injured TDF soldiers to compile a full report for the attention of the Amnesty Committee.

I am convinced that the Transkeian people will need their own lawyers paid for by TRC and access to all investigation documentation so that they can freely put their side of the story. The TRC was given this information as far back as 22 May 1996 but Bishop Tutu chose not to take action. This attitude by the chairman of the TRC is still difficult to comprehend but I hope the chairman did not think that the lives of Transkeians were insignificant and thus no investigation was warranted. However, it is clear that his inaction allowed the ANC to shield Minister Stella Sigcau from explaining together with the Matanzimas their reasons and motives for asking the then South African government to forcibly remove us from power.

It is clear that the South African army was acting on specific political directives. What we need to know now is whether these political directives were an accumulative result of the Stella Sigcau and the Matanzima's respective delegations to Pretoria or not. I am convinced that there is a symbiotic relationship between these political directives to the South African Army and these delegations. Since this matter has for some mysterious reasons not been investigated by the TRC despite the overwhelming weight of the above stated facts it is now necessary to provide these details to the TRC Amnesty Committee.

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