New Nation (1990): “South African Working Class Organisation and the Downfall of the Smuts Government”

New Nation, 1990, “South African working class organisation and the downfall of the Smuts government,” 10-16 August, Matric History section of Learning Nation supplement.

A discussion of the struggles of the working class movement from 1920-1924 which examines the role of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) from 1919, the 1920 Bulhoek Massacre, and the 1922 Rand Revolt in the fall of the Jan Smuts government in 1924.

A good account from the old anti-apartheid weekly, but — as always — rather silent on the the role of anarchism and syndicalism — a factor in both ICU and the 1922 revolt.

Get the PDF here

 

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ZACF (2005): Anarchist arrested by Swazi regime

Several weeks ago “MK”, a member of the Soutern African Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation’s underground structures in Swaziland was arrested.

He was among eight Swaziland youth congress (SWAYOCO) members detained by police following a SWAYOCO demonstration in the city of Manzini on Saturday, October 1st.

The SWAYOCO demonstration was to protest against King Sobhuza II’s autocratic decree of 1973 that outlawed all pro-democratic political activity in this, Africa’s last remaining “white” (monarchist) dictatorship. Today Sobhuza’s successor, King Mswati III, presides over one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS infection rates, in a country where for people to draw water from a stream without permission is a crime – while he continues to splurge millions of rands on a private jet, swan around in a r2-million luxury Maybach vehicle and a string of palaces, and kidnap schoolgirls as his brides.

Over the past two years, the ZACF has established a presence in Swaziland as the only grassroots revolutionary organisation pushing for the overthrow of the king and of the british-south african extractive capitalism he supports.

Working within and outside of SWAYOCO, the ZACF has popularised anarchist class struggle ideas among politically-conscious youth. Countering Saturday’s SWAYOCO demonstration in which the ZACF participated, the royal Swazi police fired warning shots and in the resulting chaos, arrested “MK” and seven SWAYOCO comrades. Last month, however, the shoe was on the other foot, when an armoured police “hippo” that wandered into comrade-controlled territory found itself stoned and petrol-bombed.

“MK” and his seven comrades have apparently been charged with “disturbing the peace” – a charge that was of course not levelled at the police who started the shooting. “MK” was visited in the “Zakhele Detention Centre” in Manzini and was in high spirits, but is an ill man and is not able to take his regular medication. Bail has been set at r1,500 by the state, but civic organisations are trying to get the bail reduced to r500 – still a huge sum in this extremely poor southern African country.

For more information, contact the ZACF

MI & MD,
International Secretaries,
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation,
South Africa & Swaziland

ZACF
Postnet Suite 153
Private Bag X42
Braamfontein
2017
South Africa

www.zabalaza.net

VIDEO: Motsoaledi Concerned Residents (MCR) protest, Soweto, April 2009

This is a news report from a protest by the Motsoaledi Concerned Residents (MCR) in Soweto, April 2009. Motsoaledi was a squatter camp in Soweto behind Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital. Anarchists played an important role in Motsoaledi, and initiated the MCR, which joined the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF). By 2009, the direct anarchist role in MCR was pretty much gone, but at least one Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front founder member was active in the protest, and is interviewed by the media in this report. More on anarchists at Motsoaledi here.

 

Biography: Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Thibedi, Thibedi William (1888–1960), South African revolutionary syndicalist and Communist,” in DAB

Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Thibedi, Thibedi William (1888–1960), South African revolutionary syndicalist and Communist,” in Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press.

Get the PDF here.

[Archived webpage]: The Workers’ Library and Museum (Johannesburg)

Previous posts have looked at the Workers’ Library and Museum (WLM) in Newtown, Johannesburg, and mentioned the role of anarchists (mainly, Bikisha Media Collective) in it from the late 1990s into the early 2000s: see here.

The WLM webpage from those days is long gone, but happily, there is a navigable snapshot of it here (off-site).

 

 

VIDEO: The Newtown power complex before the Workers Library and Museum

There is an interesting video, captured from a VHS, from a report on the TV station M-Net, on the Newtown power complex in what looks like the late 1980s. The Newtown power complex, in downtown Johannesburg, was the site of the old municipal power station. It was all but abandoned by the late 1980s: the state of the building attests to this, and so does the fact that the council’s main interest (in the video) is to move some old trees from the premises, to another owned by the municipality. The decrepit building visible from 03.34 (time on video) was the old housing section that was refurbished as the Workers Library and Museum (WLM) in the 1990s. (Below the video you can see a photo of how the building looked before used as the WLM, and how the WLM looked in its early years).

 

Before becoming the Workers Library and Museum…

The Workers Library and Museum in its early years