Major General (Retired) Bantubonke (Bantu) Harrington Holomisa co-founded the United Democratic Movement (UDM) in 1997 and currently serves as its President. In 1999, within a period of twenty months since the UDM was established in 1997, he together with thirteen other members of the Party was elected to Parliament. Previously, he was the Commander of the Transkei Defence Force and Head of the Transkei government (former independent homeland between 1987 and 1994) up to the first national elections in South Africa in 1994.
He was one of the first two black persons accepted by the South African Army College to do a one-year senior staff course for officers in 1984. Between 1988 and 1989, the government led by Mr Holomisa un-banned approximately 33 organisations that were banned by his predecessors and his government worked closely with the liberation movements. As a result, Transkei had a smooth transition prior to the South African national elections of 1994. Mr Holomisa also led Transkei delegation to Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations.
He was chosen by the African National Congress (ANC) Election Committee to campaign nationwide alongside Mr Nelson Mandela, Mr Thabo Mbeki, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the late Mr Joe Slovo and Mr Steve Tshwete during the democratic election in 1994. In 1994, he received the most votes in the ANC National Congress. In 1996, he was expelled from the ANC after testifying to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about Transkei activities concerning Transkei issues. He refused to retract his testimony arguing that what he had said was of historical knowledge to all concerned.
He has served as the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism of South Africa in the Government of National Unity (elected in 1994). Mr Holomisa is a fervent advocate for the environment and is working towards the establishment of the Champions of the Environment Foundation.
Since 1989, Mr Holomisa has addressed forums around the world, including the United Nations (UN) Security Council (on the need for the UN to monitor violence in South Africa); the Confederation of British Industry; the Carnegie Endowment, USA; the Council on Foreign Relations, USA; CSIS, USA; African-American Institute (AAI), USA; addressed Prayer Breakfast meetings in USA, Zambia and Uganda; the World Tourism Organisation; the World Travel and Tourism Council; Convention on Biodiversity and many other international conventions and meetings all over the world. In 2000, he attended a Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, USA. In the same year, he led a delegation of UDM Members of Parliament to Beijing, China, upon the invitation of the Chinese government. Since then, Mr Holomisa has addressed various international forums. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) requested Mr Holomisa to act as a monitor in the June 2007 elections in East Timor. In 2007 he participated in a conference on the “Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa: What Progress Toward Institutionalization” in Ghana, and he attended the Second World Renewable Energy Assembly as well. He is regularly invited to address business, academic, civil society and religious groups.
Mr Holomisa has mediated in conflict between Methodist of Southern Africa and United Methodist of Southern Africa and he also played a mediating role in solving taxi conflict in Transkei and Cape Town.
He is an able athlete, who has played rugby, soccer, tennis, and golf and was vice-captain of the Parliamentary Rugby Squad from 1994-1996. He is married with two children.