United Democratic Movement

Last updated
United Democratic Movement
President Bantu Holomisa
Secretary-General Bongani Msomi
Chairperson Zolisa Lavisa
Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa
Founded27 September 1997 (1997-09-27)
HeadquartersGround Floor
CPA House
101 Du Toit Street
Student wing United Democratic Students' Movement
Youth wing United Democratic Movement Youth Vanguard
Women's wing United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
Colours Yellow, Green, and Red
National Assembly seats
2 / 400
NCOP seats
0 / 90
Provincial Legislatures
2 / 430
Party flag
UDM flag.svg

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is a centre-left, social-democratic, South African political party, formed by a prominent former National Party leader, Roelf Meyer (who has since resigned from the UDM), a former African National Congress and Transkei homeland leader, General Bantu Holomisa, and a former ANC Executive Committee member, John Taylor. It has an anti-separatist, pro-diversity platform; and supports an individualist South Africa with a strong moral sense, in both social and economic senses.


Along with the much larger Democratic Alliance (DA) and other smaller parties, the UDM is currently part of the governing coalition in Johannesburg, South Africa's largest Metropolitan municipality.

Mongameli Bobani was the Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality from 2018 to 2019 and the first mayor from the UDM since the party governed King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality (2000-2002).


The National Consultative Forum

During his testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Holomisa made reference to a possible bribe that was paid to the former Prime Minister of Transkei, Chief George Matanzima and Miss Stella Sigcau, the then incumbent Prime Minister. Holomisa was expelled from the ANC because of these allegations. In November 1996 Holomisa publicly announced consulting South Africans on the need or not for a new political party. With this objective, the National Consultative Forum (NCF) was established on 8 February 1997.

The New Movement Process

Roelf Meyer left the National Party on 17 May 1997, along with fellow politicians Nilo Botha, Takis Christodoulou, Kobus du Plessis, and Annelizé van Wyk, some of whom had resigned their seats in the Gauteng Legislature. At a three-day strategic planning conference in May 1997, it was decided that a political movement should be established capable of unifying people around shared values across racial, historical, ideological and social dividing lines. The New Movement Process (NMP) was then established.

Bantu Holomisa and Roelf Meyer (who had met with Meyer still representing the National Party to discuss the process for a new movement) again met at Loftus Versveld, in mid-1997, to discuss working together and agreed in principle to explore the possibility of formal cooperation. A Joint Committee (JC) between the NCF and the NMP was formed to look into matters of common interest. The JC amalgamated its two (NCF and NMP) technical support teams into a Technical Committee (TC) to act as its executive body to implement the brief of the JC. This was to “look into matters of common interest between the two sides… consider… the establishment of a new party at an appropriate time… (and) in regard to the latter question… (investigate) matters of strategy, time scales, policy and funding”. The TC was jointly chaired by Kobus du Plessis (NMP) and Joel Mafenya (NCF) and its first meeting took place at the Carlton Hotel on 22 June 1997. After a joint strategic session at the Vaal Dam in July 1997 it was agreed that a new political party should be formed. The United Democratic Movement was launched at the World Trade Centre, in Kempton Park, on 27 September 1997. [1] Bantu Holomisa was elected the party's first president at its first national congress in June 1998.

First elections

As one of several newcomer parties, UDM was among the most successful in the 1999 general election; the party garnered 3,4% and earned seats in 6 of the 9 provincial legislatures. It also became the official opposition in the Northern Province and its stronghold, the Eastern Cape.


In the 2000 municipal elections, the UDM won control of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality. The party lost the council during the floor crossing period, however, and this would begin a time of decline; In the 2004 general election, 9 members were elected to the National Assembly, 5 fewer than were elected in the 1999 election. The UDM lost its position as the official opposition in the Eastern Cape after two of its members in the Eastern Cape Legislature had defected to the splinter United Independent Front in 2005.

On October 8, 2008, the UDM announced its kickoff of the 2009 general election campaign. It also welcomed over 300 former members of the ANC who had left their former party following the deposition of former president Thabo Mbeki in September 2008. So far almost 1000 [2] [3] former African National Congress members have joined the party since the ANC recalled President Thabo Mbeki and replaced him with Kgalema Motlanthe. Nevertheless, the election would continue the downward trend of the UDM, with the party retaining only 4 MPs with 0,8% of the vote and losing its representation in all provinces except the Eastern Cape, where it was pushed into fourth place.

In 2014, a faction of the Congress of the People led by Mbhazima Shilowa joined the UDM. [4] This helped to strengthen the party in its Eastern Cape stronghold, where it likely gained support from many previous COPE supporters. In the 2014 general elections, UDM support remained at very low levels in eight of the provinces, and it failed to re-establish itself nationally, but made a convincing rebound in the Eastern Cape, where it overtook COPE to become the third-largest party. The increase was especially convincing in the King Sabata Dalindyebo region. However, this new growth had largely evaporated by the time of the 2016 local elections.

The national and provincial election of 2019 saw its support drop to its lowest levels yet. The UDM lost half of its seats both nationally and in the Eastern Cape, and is now the seventh-most supported party nationally, and fourth-most in the Eastern Cape.

Election results

National elections

ElectionTotal votesShare of voteSeats+/–Government
1999 546,7903.42%
14 / 400
in opposition
2004 355,7172.30%
9 / 400
Decrease2.svg 5in opposition
2009 149,6800.85%
4 / 400
Decrease2.svg 5in opposition
2014 184,6361.00%
4 / 400
Steady2.svg ±0in opposition
2019 78,0300.45%
2 / 400
Decrease2.svg 2in opposition

Provincial elections

Election [5] Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
 %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats
1999 13.60%9/631.67%0/301.95%1/731.17%1/802.51%1/491.42%1/301.29%0/330.90%0/302.40%1/42
2004 9.23%6/630.88%0/300.99%1/730.75%1/801.72%1/491.00%0/300.96%0/330.45%0/301.75%1/42
2009 4.13%3/630.36%0/300.40%0/730.23%0/800.35%0/490.26%0/300.51%0/330.15%0/300.17%0/42
2014 6.16%4/630.21%0/300.44%0/730.17%0/800.27%0/490.13%0/300.88%0/330.09%0/300.48%0/42
2019 2.60%2/630.09%0/300.21%0/730.10%0/800.09%0/490.08%0/300.30%0/330.06%0/300.28%0/42

Municipal elections

ElectionVotes %
2000 2.6%
2006 334,5041.3%
2011 168,3510.6%
2016 [6] 238,0000.62%

See also

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  1. Holomisa & Meyer 1999.
  2. "DispatchLIVE".
  3. http://www.sabcnews.com/politics/the_parties/0,2172,177814,00.html%5B%5D
  4. "Shilowa, Holomisa join forces".
  5. "Results Dashboard". www.elections.org.za. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
  6. "Results Summary - All Ballots" (PDF). elections.org.za. Retrieved 11 August 2016.