The National Consultative ForumDuring 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 , Chief George Matanzima and Miss Stella Sicgau, 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 ProcessRoelf 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. Bantu Holomisa was elected the party's first president at its first national congress in June 1998.
First electionsAs one of several newcomer parties, UDM was among the most successful in the South African general election, 1999, 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.
DeclineIn the 2000 municipal elections, the UDM won control of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality. The party lost the council during the floor crossing (South Africa), floor crossing period, however, and this would begin a time of decline; In the South African general election, 2004, 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 South African general election, 2009, 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 former 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 (political party), Congress of the People led by Mbhazima Shilowa joined the UDM. This helped to strengthen the party in its Eastern Cape stronghold, where it likely gained support from many previous COPE supporters. In the 2014 South African general election, 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 South African general election, 2019, 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.
National elections, - ! Election ! Total votes ! Share of vote ! Seats ! +/– ! Government , - ! South African general election, 1999, 1999 , 546,790 , 3.42% , , – , , - ! South African general election, 2004, 2004 , 355,717 , 2.30% , , 5 , , - ! South African general election, 2009, 2009 , 149,680 , 0.85% , , 5 , , - ! South African general election, 2014, 2014 , 184,636 , 1.00% , , ±0 , , - ! South African general election, 2019, 2019 , 78,030 , 0.45% , , 2 ,
Provincial elections! rowspan=2 , Election ! colspan=2 , Eastern Cape ! colspan=2 , Free State (South African province), Free State ! colspan=2 , Gauteng ! colspan=2 , KwaZulu-Natal, Kwazulu-Natal ! colspan=2 , Limpopo ! colspan=2 , Mpumalanga ! colspan=2 , North West (South African province), North-West ! colspan=2 , Northern Cape ! colspan=2 , Western Cape , - ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats ! % !! Seats , - ! South African general election, 1999, 1999 , 13.60% , , 9/63 , 1.67% , , 0/30 , 1.95% , , 1/73 , 1.17% , , 1/80 , 2.51% , , 1/49 , 1.42% , , 1/30 , 1.29% , , 0/33 , 0.90% , , 0/30 , 2.40% , , 1/42 , - ! South African general election, 2004, 2004 , 9.23% , , 6/63 , 0.88% , , 0/30 , 0.99% , , 1/73 , 0.75% , , 1/80 , 1.72% , , 1/49 , 1.00% , , 0/30 , 0.96% , , 0/33 , 0.45% , , 0/30 , 1.75% , , 1/42 , - ! South African general election, 2009, 2009 , 4.13% , , 3/63 , 0.36% , , 0/30 , 0.40% , , 0/73 , 0.23% , , 0/80 , 0.35% , , 0/49 , 0.26% , , 0/30 , 0.51% , , 0/33 , 0.15% , , 0/30 , 0.17% , , 0/42 , - ! South African general election, 2014, 2014 , 6.16% , , 4/63 , 0.21% , , 0/30 , 0.44% , , 0/73 , 0.17% , , 0/80 , 0.27% , , 0/49 , 0.13% , , 0/30 , 0.88% , , 0/33 , 0.09% , , 0/30 , 0.48% , , 0/42 , - ! South African general election, 2019, 2019 , 2.60% , , 2/63 , 0.09% , , 0/30 , 0.21% , , 0/73 , 0.10% , , 0/80 , 0.09% , , 0/49 , 0.08% , , 0/30 , 0.30% , , 0/33 , 0.06% , , 0/30 , 0.28% , , 0/42
Municipal elections, - ! Election ! Votes ! % , - ! South African municipal election, 2000, 2000 , , 2.6% , - ! South African municipal election, 2006, 2006 , 334,504 , 1.3% , - ! South African municipal election, 2011, 2011 , 168,351 , 0.6% , - ! South African municipal election, 2016, 2016 , 238,000 , 0.62% , -
See also* List of political parties in South Africa