United Democratic Front: Leadership and ideology

Lodge, Tom
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The UDF is essentially a federation linking a large and heterodox collection of organisations varying in function, size, and popular impact. It is strongest in the Eastern Cape, traditionally the stronghold of the ANC, with which many local UDF leaders are historically associated. Class and communal cleavages as well as the presence of rivals with a popular following, make the UDF comparatively weaker in Cape Town and Durban. In the industrial heartland of the Transvaal, the UDF is undoubtedly paramount, but the sheer size of the urban centres, their social complexity, and the uncertainties of the UDF' s relationship with a well-established trade union movement, make its own capacity for marshalling disciplined support questionable. In the Transvaal, to a greater extent than in its other four main regions, the UDF has come to depend upon a tacit alliance with an increasingly politicised yet politically independent trade union movement. Any analysis of the UDF, though, should not be limited to the bureaucratic boundaries of its often patchy organisation, for the UDF functions more in the fashion of a social movement than a deliberately contrived political machine. With this consideration in mind, two questions need examining. Which social constituencies does the UDF represent? Is it possible to perceive in the UDF's ideological discourse the interests or concerns of particular social classes?
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented August 1987
United Democratic Front (South Africa) , South Africa. Politics and government. 1978-1989