ZACF tabling: 2010 Jozi Bookfair

Pic 1The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) ran a stall at the 2010 Jozi Book Fair in Johannesburg alongside other black-oriented and left-wing publishes.  It was described as “an anarchist political organization that works to promote libertarian socialist ideas and practice within popular social movements and trade unions. Through our publishing arm, Zabalaza books, we publish and distribute a wide variety of books, pamphlets and leaflets on topics such a revolutionary history and theory, women’s liberation, ecology, revolutionary syndicalism etc.”

More here

Mirror here.




Interview/ photo: Warren McGregor of ZACF at St Imier anarchist summit, 2012

Source: Motmakt (Norway)
Warren in front of the Anarkismo tent in St-ImierIn Sunny St-Imier! Ep. 3: Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front
Publisert av Adrien W den 13. september 2012 – 23:54This is the third and last interview I did while at the international anarchist conference in St-Imier, Switzerland. I speak with Warren of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front about the importance of forging both organizational and personal ties with comrades around the world. In addition Warren sheds som light on the origins og anarchism in Afrika…[Listen to interview here, read transcript below]

… Transcript of the interview
Motmakt: I’m here in beautiful St-Imier, Switzerland. And we have taken refuge from the sun and are drinking a little bit of beer and are having a great time. I am here with Warren from the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front, and I was wondering Warren how did you hear of the St-Imier conference?Warren: As a member of the anarkismo network, it was through that network that we firstly made aware of the fact that the conference was happening here, which for us was very exciting, and it was through that network that we received an invitation from one of the organizers.Motmakt: This is in St-Imier, Switzerland, where one hundred and forty years ago, the first anarchist international took place. And as such it’s a pretty historically loaded place to be, and this has also been called an attempt at a second anarchist international, do you have any hopes or expectations around that?

Warren: First of all it’s very exciting for us, sometimes in South Africa, because we are the only anarchist organization that is based down in the south of Africa, at times we feel a bit isolated. So despite the fact that we know that comrades do exist in other parts of the world, meeting comrades face to face, meeting comrades that we’ve had relations with for the last ten, fifteen years gives a face to the name, to the interactions that we’ve had. So for us it’s very exciting that, you know, were not just a small group of anarchists, but were surrounded by people that are all anarchists, so on one end that’s very exciting.

My expectations for this particular meeting more specifically to get in touch with the other organizations and delegates of the members of the Anarkismo network. Again to meet face to face with them to develop personal relationships, as well as to strengthen the organizational ties that exist between our organizations. And also meet with the comrades and the delegates from new organizations or at least the organizations who have just recently joined the Anarkismo network. Again to develop personal ties and to develop organizational ties.

Motmakt:: Well in Norway, which is pretty much as far away from Africa that you get, naturally we haven’t heard a lot about anarchism in Africa. Do you have anything you can tell us about anarchism in Africa and about what the situation for anarchists is?

W: That’s quite a long story because as syndicalism, or anarchist trade unionism develops at the end of the eighteen-hundreds and nineteen-hundreds, it also spreads through particular immigrant workers and anarchist activist to the north of Africa, particularly Egypt and then down to the south of Africa through Spanish migrant workers. In fact some of the first trade unions and political organizations that sought to mobilize and organize black workers, and by black I mean African coloured or mixed race, as well Indian workers in southern Africa, they were influenced by anarchism and syndicalism. However that disappears for quite some time.

Recently anarchism has reemerged after about eighty years of Marxist and Leninist domination in South Africa. And although we are still a small movement we are a growing movement, and one that works actively with and in poor working movements in South Africa. Where we find desperate poverty, and where we find lots of people struggling on a daily basis for access to running water, electricity, housing and land. That’s generally a lot of our work. And we engage in a particular program of intensive political education to develop an anarchist understanding, through those social movements, through those independent trade unions into the community, so that we can insert anarchism not only in terms of the solidarity and social work that we do, but we can insert anarchism into those communities and those organizations, brought to those communities and those organizations by activists who understand the the culture, language. Who understand the operation and the essence of living in those communities. So that’s generally some of the work that we do.

Motmakt:: Thank you very much for talking to me Warren!

Warren: Thank you Adrien!

[Read more…]

ZACF, 2007: ZACF statement on Wits University protests

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF, then the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation) was active in  range of areas in the 2000s, including struggles by black students and workers at the University of the Witwatersrand. Below is a leaflet issued by ZACF militants in 2007 (no month given).

Scanned PDF is here.


It is clear that what is happening at Wits -the fee increases, privatisation of residence etc -is part of the ANC government’s plan for the general neo-liberal restructuring of the universities in order to turn them into “market universities” orientated first and foremost towards generating profit. This is a hard fact which both the ANCYL [ANC Youth League] and Sasco [South African Students Congress, also linked to ANC] students leading the protests have tried studiously to avoid admitting.

In the same way that government’s neo-liberal policies (eg Gear and Asgisa), which say that service delivery must be based on cost recovery and ability to pay, affect primarily the working class and poor, so too does the restructuring at Wits and other universities. The proposed 25% increase in upfront fees, the 500% increase in admin fees for students coming from outside the SADC and increases in residence fees are obviously going to affect poor and working class students the most.

The proposed outsourcing of some residences to the commercial for-profit wing of the State, the Public Investment Corporation, in conjunction with various banks, shows clearly that the intention of the government and Wits management is not to improve the university and quality of education, never mind the access of underprivileged students to higher education, it is about making profit and needs to be resisted.

Since government and Wits started implementing this restructuring by adopting the Wits 2001 plan in 1999 more 600 support jobs have been outsourced, as a result of which workers’ wages were cut in half, their unions were smashed and their working conditions became extremely harsh. Departments have been closed, posts frozen and there is a continual pressure on lecturers to research and teach more with declining funds. Ongoing fee increases and stricter cost recovery measures such as the proposed increase in upfront payments are affecting students. Indeed, before 2000 upfront payments did not exist at all; by introducing them, management blocked the way into higher education for many poor students, and the barrier has been getting higher ever since. Declining conditions in the residences, increasing prices of food and class sizes, and overcrowded facilities are affecting student’s ability to concentrate, apply themselves and do well in their studies. Coupled with Wits management’s decision to cut bursaries in 2004, working class students are particularly hard hit by fees increases. In contrast, the power, size and power of senior management has increased dramatically throughout this period.

As anarchist communists we support the students’ struggle at Wits not only because it is in the interests of all students to resist the implementation of this restructuring, which turns Wits into a profit-driven enterprise accessible only to those who can afford to go there, an ever-decreasing number, but also because it is an important struggle against the marketisation and commercialisation of higher education in general.

We call on students not to put their faith and hopes in the student leaders, some of whom have been shown to ignore the essential cause of the crisis at Wits because of political party affiliation, but to take matters into their own hands.We urge students to carry on with protest action until all their demands have been met. We encourage students to make their voices and concerns heard by carrying out direct actions, such as occupations, sit-ins and boycotts, rather than by negotiations and appealing to management who, after all, are only implementing the ANC government’s neo- liberal for-profit policies at a local level. In order to be more powerful we urge students to join forces with the support services staff at Wits (cleaning, catering, etc.) who have also been hard hit by the outsourcing of their jobs as part of the neo-liberal restructuring of Wits into a for-profit university. We also encourage students to seek allies amongst the many activists from poor and working class communities who are resisting and fighting back against neo-liberalism, privatisation of services and cut-offs in their communities.

What is happening at Wits is happening all over the country, at every university and in every poor community. The entire economy is undergoing neo-liberal restructuring by central government, the purpose of which is not to make education or service delivery more accessible, but to make sure that it will only be accessible to those who can afford it. This has devastating consequences for millions of the population and must be fought to a standstill before it goes any further.

We support the following demands, and urge students, workers and progressive staff not to give up, not to stop occupying, disrupting and resisting until these demands are met:

*Rather than the increasingly authoritarian style of management under Wits 2001, students and staff should manage their affairs collectively, and be directly involved in that which affects them

*Student fees must be immediately cut, as must the proposed administration and residence fee increases

*Bursaries for the children of both outsourced and non-outsourced support staff must be reinstated immediately

* Financial aid for poor and working class student needs to be increased dramatically

* Wits needs to defend itself from capitalist and neo-liberal influences and against the commercialisation of the university

*Wits must send a strong message to government that it firmly opposes subsidy cuts

* The ongoing outsourcing of support services needs to be halted, and outsourced staff brought
back into permanent and secure jobs at Wits

We emphasise again that these demands will not be achieved by negotiating and appealing to Wits management, nor by leaving things in the hands of the student leaders. The only way for this struggle to be successful is for every working class student to become directly involved in the struggle, by participating in direct actions such as occupations, disruptions, sit-ins and the like.

An injury to one is an injury to all!!

ARM, ca.1994: Lucien van der Walt, “The Fire Next Time: Lessons of the Los Angeles (LA) Uprising”

This introduction was written for a reprinted imported pamphlet on the 1992 LA riots in the USA.  A copy of the pamphlet itself will be uploaded at a later stage. The introduction was by the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) group at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). It spells out the standard positions: opposition to racism and national oppression, anti-nationalism, and class struggle. This section of ARM later became part of the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF). The author was “L.V.” = Lucien van der Walt.


At a meeting at the First A.M.E. Church during the first hours of the rioting, the mayor, clergy, and community leaders were booed and ignored by much of the audience. A young Black women charged the podium, and took control of  the microphone. “We can’t rely on these people up here to act … I believe they have our best interests at heart, but we cannot rely on them … You know what we need to do … ”  (from Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist News monthly June 1992. New York)

The LA uprising of 1992 was a class rebellion in the heart of capitalist America. Triggered by the acquittal of four White cops videotaped beating a Black truck driver, Rodney King, the uprising spread through dozens of American cities, and even internationally: in Berlin, masked youths battled police under banners calling for the destruction of capitalism and proclaiming “LA did the right thing.” While people of many different backgrounds participated in the action, there is no doubt that poor Blacks, one of the most oppressed segments of the US working class led the way. This shows that Black liberation must be central to any real  working class challenge to the system. By the time the  military and police forces of the regime managed to put down the uprising, there had been 58 deaths (mostly Black), 4,000 injuries, 12,000 arrests, 10,000 businesses destroyed and countless shops looted.

The bulk of this pamphlet provides an eyewitness account of the revolt as it happened in Los Angeles itself. A final section looks draws out some of the significance of the uprising. In this introduction we argue that this sort of rising can and should be turned into a revolutionary attack on the State and capitalist system. We also suggest what Anarchist revolutionaries can do to achieve this.

Its quite clear that capitalism and the State lie at the heart of the oppressive and marginalised experiences faced by working class people in America’s inner-cities. Lower class Black Americans were supposedly “emancipated” over a 125 years ago but racism and poverty is still an everyday experience.  “Of Black men between the ages 20 to 29. 1 in 4 will go to prison or be placed on probation. 60% of women in prison are women of color. Poverty and the absence of other opportunities to escape it compel many Black youth to turn to gangs, drugs, and anti- social crime … Half of all Black and Hispanic youth of South Central LA belong to gangs. in Central LA, half of the Black families fall below the poverty line, and youth unemployment hovers at 50%.” (Love and Rage June 1992).

This oppression is clearly rooted in a racist capitalist order that has roots in the Slave trade, where racism was used to justify the sale of human beings. Today, racism still serves the ruling class who divide working class people into fractions on the basis of differential levels of treatment(eg. different wages, jobs, social services), with Blacks and women at the bottom of the heap. This hampers united resistance, and it makes for super- exploitation of disempowered sections  of the workforce.

At the same time, the extreme poverty of the inner- cities is linked to capitalism’s incessant hunger for profits, as usual at the expense of people. The inner- cities were mostly built around large factories which have since migrated from the high taxes and wages of the cities to suburbs and third world countries, Here unions are often repressed, wages low, and environmental controls non- existent. At the same time as inner city wages fall, the corporations are making huge profits and the bosses receiving record pay increases (LA Today … 1992, Minneapolis, p1). In the USA, the top 4% earns as much as the bottom 50% of the population (Plain Words, 1994, New Jersey, p4).

Quite obviously then, we need to destroy capitalism and the State once and for all. We need to establish a new society based on grassroots worker and community councils, and distribution and production according to need not profit. This is anarchism or free socialism (as opposed to the State capitalist dictatorships set up by the Marxist “communists” since 1917).  This must be the task of the working class (white- and blue- collar workers, workers’ families and youth, the unemployed and the rural poor).

Why? Firstly, only a productive class can set up a truly free society, for the simple reason that only a productive class does not need to exploit and dominate others in order to survive. Secondly, class position fundamentally shapes the experience of oppression. The Black middle/ upper class (professionals and capitalists) that led the civil rights movement has expanded rapidly, living off the sweat of all American workers. While between 1967 and 1990 the proportion of Black families at the lowest income level grew by 50%, the percentage of high income Black families more than doubled (New York Times, September 25, 1992). Not surprisingly, the Black middle class and capitalists firmly supported the military occupation of the ghettos, because working class fightback was not in their interests.

Clearly, the arguments of Black nationalists that all Blacks should unite across color lines is very wrong, basically because Blacks do not have the same class interests. Working class Blacks have more in common with working class Whites, also at the !@#$%^&* end of the bosses stick, than the Black midde/upper class.

But we do not take a simplistic “class unity” line.  Precisely because of the historic divisions in the working class, its especially oppressed segments (like women, Blacks, and homosexuals) need to organize themselves to be able to put their own specific problems firmly on the agenda of the revolutionary working class movement. This is the basis for principled class unity, and a revolution that will smash all oppression.

What can Anarchists do to turn revolts such as the LA uprisings in a revolutionary direction? Firstly, we must get involved with and support all genuine working class resistance. At the same time, however, we need to spread the ideals of revolutionary Anarchism through the working class.

In practical terms this means debate as equals, and cheap revolutionary literature. In both cases we must argue against authoritarian (or top-down) politics on the left and right, spread information about resistance, and draw the lessons of earlier struggles. We must argue that the working class take direct action to secure its own particular interests (eg. for housing, jobs, peace, and freedom), and to ultimately smash the system. In no case do we assume, as the Marxists do, that our analysis gives us the right to speak for or act in the place of the working class (this is called vanguardism — the belief that a certain left-wing “party” has the right to rule the ruling [sic.] class, as in Russia).

Secondly, we need to start to build practical alternative structures which demonstrate the viability of Anarchist politics. Some of these demonstrate new ways of organizing production and distribution: collective childcare facilities, community- run clinics, free shops that redistribute old clothes, community gardens, local newspapers, workers theater etc. Other counter- institutions will play a more confrontational role: street committees, revolutionary trade unions that aim to seize and democratically administer the land and factories, and self- defense units which are internally democratic and accountable to the community. In no case do we place any faith in the parliamentary system.

If we build the revolution today, the next mass rising has a very real chance of become an insurrection that can provide a sustained revolutionary challenge to the system.


L.V. [Lucien van der Walt]

Video: MC Biko: “Anti-capitalistic, anarchistic /Activist gone ballistic”

Lyrics below the video

It’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activist gone ballistic

He didn’t battle emcees he fought with the government
Kidnapped the MPs and burnt down the parliament
His punchlines overthrew the president
He was a bulldozer going through impediments
Transferred the power from the state to the residents
Bombed cop stations and destroyed all the evidence
To him bourgeois democracy was just another pestilence
These were not just his views, but the working class sentiment
He expressed himself in spite of the censorship
He was a war veteran fighting the dictatorship
His thoughts were anarchy, his words were hardcore
Disturbing the peace, waging war on the status quo

He’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activist gone ballistic

A Bhobho lion, babylon wont give me a visa
Coz I’m a Toyitoyi teacher and I’m pro-Zapatista
Anti-capitalista, I’m the counter-culture
Rooted in the spirit like a Shona sculpture
refuse to lose, used, fused to propaganda
X on the ballot so we struggle no longer
The !@#$%^&*-stem keeps on coming on stronger
Uncle Bee, Uncle Sam or another Uncle Tom
We remain the same; poor and unemployed
A black president or a female head of state
Another window dresser seals the working class fate
The democratic right to chose a new slavemaster
Cosmetic changes make the slave faster
So until the power is in the hands of the people
I’ll be in the streets chanting change, still a rebel

I’m the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activist gone ballistic

Source: “Uhuru Vibes Community Newsletter,” April/ May 2010, H

Letter on Chiapas, 1996, from Durban Anarchist Federation

Letters page, Mail and Guardian, Johannesburg, 12 July 1996. Letter by member of Durban Anarchist Federation, who had visited the Zapatista zone in Chiapas. Note: the Durban Anarchist Federation, which went through various names and in 1996 largely merged into the Workers Solidarity Federation. Activists from the Durban Anarchist Federation also set up what is today Zabalaza Books, a South African anarchist publishing project that continues today as part of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front milieu.

Praiseworthy Zapatistas

I WAS pleasantly surprised by the unusual editorial subtlety which linked the crisis of conscience South African organised labour is experiencing with the refreshing innovations being forged by the Zapatista movement in southern Mexico (June 28 to July 4).

It was obvious long before 1994 that Cosatu’s biggest looming battle would revolve around the inherent paradox of their erstwhile ANC/SACP equals becoming their masters under a democratic dispensation.

The greatest genuine threat to ANC dominance will come from within its own ranks, perhaps a new, radical workers’ movement grown out of Cosatu.

In February this year, I paid a month-long fact- finding visit to Chiapas and the Guatemalan highlands. The Zapatistas understand that the only ones who can free the people are the people themselves, not some kind of elite, dictatorial vanguard, whether state-capitalist (communist) or private-capitalist. Unlike most liberation movements, they have retained their sense of humour and humanity and bucked tradition by having an unusually high number of women in combat commands. Also, there are many similarities between their experience and ours.

The Zapatista way has for the first time put true empowerment and human rights at the top of the Mexican and regional political agendas.—- Michael Schmidt, Durban Anarchist Federation, Bishopsgate

WSF (1997): “Workers Fight Back Across The World”

WSF (1997): “Workers Fight Back Across The World”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 3, number 1, first quarter 1997. Complete PDF is here

The bosses are on the march against the workers and poor of the world, cutting jobs, wages and social services. But the workers and the poor are fighting back through their combat units, the trade unions. We draw inspiration from these struggles. It is our global resistance that will defeat the global enemy- capitalism and the State. But there can be no final victory until the union rank-and-file expel conservative and undemocratic union leaders and adopt a revolutionary programme of seizing and self-managing the land and factories through the trade unions.


During 1996 the South Korean government tried to pass a new labour law that attacked workers rights, and undermined job security. Already 10,000 public sector workers face dismissal.

Workers have said no to this law. On the 26 of December 1996 thousands auto and shipping workers took up strike action in protest. This action escalated into a general strike as workers of all jobs and unions came out. Led by the militant Confederation of Trade Unions, it is the biggest strike in South Korea’s history. And students have supported and joined the workers.

The government has tried to break the strike, raiding trade union offices, initiating legal actions against union militants and sending the riot police to break up demonstrations. But the strikes continue despite the repression. These workers show us the way forward: every attack on the working and poor people must be met with mass action and resistance.


Last year the German government planned to attack workers’ access to sick pay and pensions. The government also wanted to erode laws that protect workers, including unfair dismissal laws.

Workers did not take these bosses attacks lightly and took up action. On June 15 1996 350,000 workers gathered in Bonn (the main city) to protest. The protest was initiated by an umbrella group that included the Anarcho- Syndicalist group, the FAU- AIT.

The German Trade Union Federation (DGB) provided more than 300 busses to ferry workers. But the conservative bureaucratic DGB leaders tried to tone down the strike. They even managed to exclude the groups that initiated the protest from organising the rally. The DGB leaders want to build a “social partnership” with the class enemy- bosses.

Militant rank-and-file workers reject this. Many workers booed the speech of the DGB president. Workers from the metal union carried a banner stating “Social Partnership- there are other ways: general strike, occupy and expropriate.”

Phantsi ngeCapitalism! Phambili Basabenzi! (Away with Capitalism! Forward Workers!)

Socialist Revolution Through One Big Union!