The UDF Period and its Meaning for Contemporary South Africa

United Democratic Front poster
United Democratic Front poster

A reflection on the United Democratic Front (UDF) twenty years after its formation, based on three books published on the UDF.

Submitted by red jack on December 15, 2016

In my view, the period of the UDF represented a notion of ‘prefigurative democracy’. Democracy was not understood as being inaugurated on a particular day, after which all the practices and ideals that were cherished would come into effect. People saw what they were doing in their daily practices as part of the process of building the ‘new South Africa’. Means and ends became fused; the democratic means were part of democratic ends. In fact, what was being done at that moment was seen as valuable in itself and not merely in an instrumental sense, contributing towards a distant goal when the (problematic) notion of transfer of power to the people would occur.