In January 1983, Allan Boesak called for the formation of a front to oppose specific apartheid constitutional changes, and after a series of regional conferences, the United Democratic Front was launched in Cape Town in August. Boesak says that fifteen hundred people were present, representing 500 organisations and all sectors of society. The listing of the Front’s eventual affiliates included trade unions, youth and student movements, women’s and religious groups, civic associations, political parties and a range of support and professional groups. Within the next few years, the Front embraced almost 1,000 affiliated groups. Because of the UDF’s capacity to provide national political and ideological coordination to these affiliates, radical political action ‘assumed an increasingly organised form’, says Swilling, ‘enhancing its power and effectiveness.’ As previously with the BCM, the arrival of the UDF was not welcomed by the ANC.
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