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…]

AUDIO: Social Struggles in South Africa after Apartheid (talk by ZACF speaker in Dublin, Ireland, 2009)


Also here:

Audio: Social Struggles in South Africa after Apartheid

At the end of October 2009  a visiting speaker from the South Africa [sic.] ZACF [Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front] was hosted by the WSM [Workers Solidarity Movement] in Dublin and Cork. The audio of the Dublin talk will be found below. The opening section of the talk looks at the very recent repression of the shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo at the Kennedy road informal settlement. Several people were killed and over 1000 displaced when an ANC-led gang targeted the settlement and a meeting that was in progress there.

The rough notes below will give you some idea of the areas covered in the audio file., it includes a quite detailed history of the South African left and its relationship with the anti-apartheid struggle.

Audio 1: What is the WSM
A 3 minute introduction to the WSM by Alan…9.mp3

Audio 2: Social struggles in South Africa…k.mp3

Introduction – Johnny
Zabalaza formed 1st May 2003 from various organizations. After apartheid the ANC focused on courting big business and ignoring the needs of the working class.

Two points to the talk
1. Dispel illusions that exist around liberation
2. Drum up support for social struggles

Group of 30 or 40 armed men attacked Kennedy Road informal settlement and destroyed shacks of the Abahlali shack dwellers movement. Police refused to intervene. Gang of armed men attacked the meeting killing 3 with more dying later, a couple of attackers also killed. Next day the police arrested members of the KR development committee, 5-7 more arrested over the following days. All denied bail. Attack orchestrated by local members of ANC branch, it’s not known at what level the police were involved in the attack. The attacks recall the state sponsored terror of the 1980’s.

To set the context I’m going to got back 100 years in radical South African history to the early syndicalist and anarchy syndicalist history if the 1880’s. Established the first multi racial organizations like the Industrial Workers of Africa (modeled on the IWW). The first Community party formed in 1920 was extra parliamentary and internationalist, the first Moscow aligned CP set up following years. The CP aligned itself with the ANC and was bigger for a good number of years, the CP was following the two stage theory of national democratic revolution.

Mandela said in [19]56 that the aim of the ANC was to create a black bourgeoisie. During the 70’s and 80’s there was a massive escalation in workers and student militancy against apartheid, the ANC had virtually no influenced in these popular struggles of the black working class.

The unions through COSATU came to accept the two stages theory. Mass insurrections began in 1984 again with little ANC influence but this changed by the end of the 1990’s as the ANC gained control of the United Democratic Front. Prior to this you had a huge and militant working class involved in strikes alongside the militant student and community movement.

The boom of the 1980’s was based on the super exploitation of the black working class in mining but sanction mean it was losing access to international markets and there wasn’t an internal market due to the super exploitation. This economic decline along with the insurrectionary workers movement led the white capitalist class to enter into negotiations leading to the end of apartheid.

Secret negotiations ran from the 1980’s and by 1993 the ANC signed an agreement with the IMF leading to its election in 1994 in the first democratic election. Its economic policies were continuous with those of the old Botha regime. They had promised one million jobs but in the first ten years a million lost their jobs. The first big strike was in 1999 of municipal workers and the Anti-Privatization Forum was launched at Wits University. In 2001 the APF was a federation of community organizations, single issue social movement and campaigns fighting against privatization, evictions etc. There was a struggle against electricity cuts off as the state tried to collect outstanding bills from the apartheid issue bill strike. Battles were won but the campaigns went into decline afterwards. Another significant struggle was that against water meters.

State has tried to break backbone of New Social Movements by using apartheid era legislations against gatherings of more than 15 people. Part of the strategy is to break the social movements financially by making arrests and forcing them to raise lots of bail, activists have also been tear gassed in police cells. Police Community Forums are used to spy on social movement activists.

Zuma as elected this year, he is a conservative, openly homophobic Zulu nationalist. There have been attacks on immigrants and gays and lesbians and moves to sweep back progressive gains. Legitimate discontent is being re-directed against scapegoats leading to rampages against immigrants with 60 people being killed and 100’s of thousands fleeing the country.

The Shack Dwellers Movement [Abahlali] predicted that these attacks against immigrants would be followed by internal ethnic conflict which is what happened on Kennedy Road. They implemented a 10pm curfew on Sheeben’s [taverns] to avoid ethnic conflict.

For next year’s FIFA world cup the government is clearing the city centers of ‘undesirables’ as part of a program of gentrification, Abahlali were mobilizing against this which is part of the reason they were targeted. There is a grave danger to social movements and working class organization.

The recession has hit South Africa hard providing an excuse for Zuma’s failure to deliver on his promises. Community based revolts and strikes have escalated in the last couple of months but they tend to challenge corrupt councilors rather than the economic policies.

Audio 1: What is the WSM
A 3 minute introduction to the WSM by Alan…9.mp3

Audio 2: Social struggles in South Africa…k.mp3