Democratic? Check. United? Not so much
Allan Boesak decides he wants nothing to do with a UDF that supports the ANC
A teacher once spirited a group of us high school snots into a United Democratic Front (UDF) meeting in Pietermaritzburg.
To say we were the fish on the sun-baked quay would be understating matters.
The details of that meeting have long faded. All of them except the teacher’s pursed lips, a sign of his heavy disappointment — in our lack of revolutionary zeal, that is, and not in the UDF.
It was early days for the front and both it and the heavy-handed state were still feeling each other out, unsure who would blink first.
That changed rapidly as the UDF, which by 1986 represented more than 700 civic groups, began supporting strikes, stayaways, rent boycotts and school protests.
It wasn’t long before many of its leaders were in detention as the panicking state retreated into an ever-tightening corner.
The UDF has plenty to be proud of, making the spat between its steering committee and Allan Boesak, one of the founding fathers, all the more grubby.
It is probably safe to say that Boesak, who, in a scathing takedown of the ruling party, snubbed an invitation to the UDF’s 40th anniversary bash from fellow UDF stalwart Popo Molefe, won’t be on any ANC guest lists for a long, long time.
Far be it for the man who was convicted of misusing donor money (and did jail time for it) to point fingers at a cash-stuffed couch on a game ranch, but when he notes how “we” — meaning the ANC — have departed “the battlefields of justice to hide ourselves in the draughty caves of kleptocracy, self-aggrandisement and instant gratification”, it’s difficult not to purse one’s lips and nod in agreement.
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