About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Five Freedoms Forum (FFF)

The Five Freedoms Forum is one of the many extra-parliamentary organisations which came into existence as a direct reaction to the state of emergency. After informal meetings under the leadership of Zwelakhe Sisulu (editor of the New Nation), Geoff Budlender (Legal Resources Centre) and Dr Beyers Naudê, well-known anti-apartheid activist, the FFF was established in 1987. Sheena Duncan of the Black Sash also helped establish this Johannesburg-based coalition of progressive organisations.

The five freedoms referred to are:

Freedom from poverty.

Freedom from fear.

Freedom of association.

Freedom of conscience.

Freedom from discrimination.

A variety of organisations fall under the banner of the Five Freedoms Forum. The most important are: Nusas, Black Sash, Young Christian Stu-dents, Jodac, the Catholic Church Commission for Justice and Peace, Concerned Social Workers, Jews for Social Justice, and the Detainees' Parents' Support Committee. Organisations with observer status at the FFF include the National Medical and Dental Association and the Anti-Censorship Action Group. The FFF, which supports Charterism, tried to canvass members via the so-called "white democratic" groups, while leftist elements supporting the SACP on Marxist grounds were excluded. The FFF has branches in all the major South African centres and is divided into sub-committees which explore the economy, education and other channels for mobilization. It also has its own publication, Forum.

Since its inception the FFF has participated in a number of UDF campaigns, despite the fact that it avoided any public liaison with this organisation. One of the best-known campaigns in which the FFF actively participated was the "One Country, One People" campaign to propagate the notion of "one man, one vote". In July 1989 115 representatives of the FFF travelled to Lusaka for talks with the ANC.

After the unbanning of the ANC and the lifting of restrictions on the UDF, the FFF actively employed its affiliated organisations to hold talks with members of the ANC in particular. It also held a conference, "South Africa at a turning point negotiations and the future", in Au-gust 1990. More than Boo delegates, representing some of the major political groups, attended the conference. The Five Freedoms Forum sees itself as an important political facilitator in the transitional phase in which South Africa finds itself in the nineties.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.