“Transforming The Universities: Where the Workers Solidarity Federation Stands”, 1995


From Workers Solidarity: the voice of anarcho-syndicalism, Number 1 May/June 1995

We in Workers Solidarity support the student and worker’s struggle to transform the universities and technikons. We stand against racism. We are for equal access to education of all people and this means fighting against the legacy of apartheid.

We believe that we need to change the role of tertiary education, which is usually geared towards training experts and managers that make decisions affecting our lives every day, totally outside of our control.

It is the wealth that the workers produce that sustains the universities. So the universities must help address the needs of the Black working class.

We stand in solidarity with the workers struggle. Only united against the bosses can we win anything. We need to break the tradition of repressive labour relations in the public sector for once and for all. We also stand with our class because we believe that it is in struggle that people can be won to the need for revolution.

We agree with our comrades that the universities must be democratized. The old apartheid managements must go. But instead of replacing them ,with a new elite on top of the administrative hierarchy, we need to work out ways to genuinely empower workers, students and staff on campus.


About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I have long been involved in union education, and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented or published 100s of papers conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 4 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and produced five books. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. My books includd include 'Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical and African Perspectives' (2018, co-edited with Kirk Helliker), 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).