“Motsoaledi News”, October 2003 – Phambile Motsoaledi Community Project / ZACF

The Phambile Motsoaledi Community Project was linked closely to Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (now Front) (or ZACF).  The ZACF was a direct successor of the Workers Solidarity Federation: on the ZACF, read here.

Besides running a small library and meeting space (a social centre in the Motsoaledi squatter camp in Soweto, behind the giant Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital), the Project also sponsored to start a food garden: the garden operated for a while, albeit with limited success There is some more material on the Project here and here.


The Motsoaledi anarchist centre, Soweto, in red and black ca. 2004

Motsoaledi News was another output of this Project.  This scanned document is the October 2003 edition: it is not known how many issues were produced overall, but it was “free to the people.” The author of the main pieces, PN, was a ZACF member and a Motsoaledi resident.

The same militant was also involved in the Motsoaledi Concerned Residents’ (MCR) structure formed in January 2005: this fought around issues related to miserable living conditions such as a lack of water and electricity, and faced intimidation by supporters of the ruling African National Congress.   According this newsletter, protest meetings were already taking place in late 2003, with active support from the Phambile Motsoaledi Community Project . The MCR later linked up with the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF): see here, and also published its own Vuka Motsoaledi.  It was explicitly described as ” a collective non-politically aligned community organisation, which is affiliated to the Anti-Privatisation Forum and the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation.”

Notes:  1) “Phambile” translates as “forward!”; and 2) “Motsoaledi” was probably named after trade unionist, Communist Party and African National Congress stalwart, Elias Motsoaledi, and sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia Treason Trial along with Nelson Mandela and others.

Now, the newsletter:

Motsoaledi News cover

Get the PDF here


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).