United Democratic Front (UDF)

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United Democratic Front timeline 1983-1990

1983
January, Alan Boesak calls for the formation of the UDF at a SAIC Committee (TASC) conference in Johannesburg; A commission appointed; steering committee set up.
May, Transvaal and Natal regions launched
July, Eastern Cape and Border committees set up
August, National Launch of the UDF (view footage) set up to coincide with the governments introduction of the Tricameral legislation in August.
November/December, The UDF began to focus on the planned elections for the Black Local Authorities (BLAs) and other local government in the townships. The UDF called for a boycott of the elections, but the campaign was run mainly though affiliates and the UDF only played a coordinating role. The UDF interpreted low voter turnout as a victory.
1984
January, UDF Border region launched The Million Signature campaign is launched
April, West Coast UDF and Southern Cape region launched
July, Anti-tricameral parliament campaign launched
August, UDF leaders arrested six UDF Natal and Natal Indian Congress leaders sought refuge in British consulate
September, Regime held elections for tricameral parliament amid massive boycott
Vaal erupted over rent boycotts; four local authority councillors killed
October, UDF and ECC held 'Troops Out' campaign
November, UDF organised Transvaal stayaway to protest troops in townships
December, UDF leaders charged with treason in Durban; formation of the Federation of Transvaal Women as a UDF affiliate
UDF led Black Christmas campaign
1985
January, Senator Edward Kennedy visited South Africa Jan
International Year of the Youth
February, At a rally to celebrate Archbishop Desmond Tutu?s winning of the Nobel peace prize, Zindzi Mandela read Mandela?s response to the government's offer to release detainees
UDF offices raided countrywide; over 100 arrested; leaders charged together with previous six treason trialists in the Pietermaritzburg Treason Trial
March, Langa, Uitenhage massacre
April, Second UDF National General Council in Azaadville
Popo Molefe and Terror Lekota detained
June, Gaborone raid; Pebco Three went missing
Together with 20 others, Molefe and Lekota charged with treason in the Delmas Treason Trial
Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sicelo Mhlauli and Sparrow Mkhonto (the Cradock Four) found murdered
30th anniversary of the Freedom Charter
July, Mass funeral for the Cradock Four
State President PW Botha declared a State of Emergency in 36 magisterial districts; 136 UDF officials known to be detained
August, Victoria Mxenge murdered
Inkatha attacks intensified
Cosas banned
October, Communities engaged in consumer boycotts to protest black local authorities and national repression; UDF launched ?Forward to People?s Power? campaign
December, Cosatu launched
National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) formed
1986
January, Murphy Morobe detained; released March 7
February, Six Day War in Alexandra
Northern Transvaal region UDF launched
March, State of Emergency lifted May 1986 UDF with Cosatu and other organisations organised national stayaway
May, Campaign against public safety bill
UDF 'Call to Whites campaign
June, National State of Emergency declared
Murphy Morobe spoke on UDF under the State of Emergency
UDF launched 'Unban the ANC' campaign
August, White City, Soweto massacre
October, UDF declared affected organisation
Campaign for 'National United Action' (Cosatu, UDF, NECC, SACC)
'Christmas against the Emergency' campaign
January, The theme for the UDF for 1987 was 'Forward to People's Power'
Valli Moosa detained and released on April 12
April, UDF Women's Congress formed
May, Cosatu headquarters bombed
National action and protest
Day of national protest against whites-only elections
UDF National Working Committee 200 delegates from nine regions: STvl, NTvl, ETvl, ECape, WCape, NCape, Natal, OFS, Border; Anti-Bop campaign
July, Sayco 'Save the Patriots' campaign
August, Murphy Morobe and Valli Moosa detained (22 UDF NEC members in detention)
'Friends of UDF' launched
Cosatu union National Union of Mineworkers held strike to demand living wage
UDF adopted the Freedom Charter
November, UDF called for boycott of black local authorities
Govan Mbeki released
1988
February, UDF and 16 organisations and 18 individuals restricted; Cosatu restricted from doing political work
March, Day of action
May, Cape Democrats launched
June, 'National peaceful action' called by Cosatu supported by UDF and churches
September, Security police bombed Khotso House, national headquarters of the UDF
Murphy Morobe, Valli Moosa and Vusi Khanyile escaped from prison and took refuge at the US Consulate, Kine Centre, Johannesburg
October, Anti-municipal elections campaign
1989
February, MDM statement on Winnie Mandela
May, David Webster assassinated
August 31, Five days before the general election where only White South Africans could vote, South Africans all over the country organised a defiance campaign against the election. Various organisations from the Anti-Presidents Committee to students' organisations, Trade Unions, United Democratic Front, and many others successfully organised protest action for this day, the day was labelled 'Day of Rage' by the Weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper (now Mail and Guardian). The police reacted by detaining at least 100 people, banning protest marches and all meetings organised by anti apartheid organisations.
September 1, A Defiance Campaign, similar to the 1952 Defiance Campaign, is launched by theUDF against banning, restrictions and segregation of hospitals and other public facilities.
October, Walter Sisulu and other Rivonia trialists released, National Reception Committee formed
December, Conference for a Democratic Future (CDF)
1990
February, ANC and 72 other organisations unbanned; restriction on UDF lifted Nelson Mandela released
March, UDF-Cosatu national women?s workshop
May, First meeting between ANC and apartheid government
July, Week of 'National Mass Action' against violence in Natal
August, Bantustan conference
Dissolution of UDF

References:
• Much of this timeline was sourced from the following website: UDF 25 years, nelsonmandela.org

Last updated : 27-Jan-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 30-Mar-2011