Cape Town – The birthplace of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain, has been officially declared a national heritage site.
The ANC-aligned UDF was launched at the Rocklands Community Hall on August 20, 1983 and the organisation is widely regarded as among the key that forced the apartheid regime to crumble seven years later.
The SA Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) has declared the hall a national heritage site due to the gathering that established UDF having “heralded a new phase in the liberation struggle” as the UDF placed itself at the forefront of intensified and sustained mass protests that took place across the country in the 1980s.
Rocklands Community Hall is dubbed the “people’s place” and still provides various social and recreational needs such as delivering social grants, sports clubs, church services, library, creche and senior citizens’ meeting place.
In a notice published on Friday in the Government Gazette, Sahra said the UDF demonstrated that a diverse coalition of groups and individuals could stand together even in the most difficult times of suppression and despite differences in ideologies, to successfully put pressure on the apartheid regime.
Late Struggle icon and former president Nelson Mandela has described the UDF as “a powerful organisation that united over 600 anti-apartheid organisations – trade unions, community and church groups and student organisations.”
In his seminal autobiography, Mandela wrote that the UDF, of which he was named patron while on Robben Island, was created to coordinate protests against apartheid’s new constitution and the tricameral parliament that would have seen Coloureds and Indians represented along with whites but not Africans.
The UDF has also been criticised for the black-on-black violence that ensued in the 1980s between the organisation and its black consciousness rivals, leading to fatalities.