Swazi youth day (Phillip Nyalungu, 18 January 2006)

Swazi youth day (Phillip Nyalungu, 18 January 2006)

During the uprising in Swaziland on the 23rd January 1997 the police gunned down a young girl sent by her parents to the shop. It happened that Noxolo was a member of a student organization that comprised Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) members: SWAYOCO is the youth wing of the illegal pro-democracy party, the Peoples’ United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). This sad experience immediately evoked the parallel situation in South Africa in 1976 in the the minds of Swazi youth. This gives us a very clear picture on how quickly the masses learn from, and inspire, each other’s struggles. Eventually the 23rd January was declared Youth Day in Swaziland by PUDEMO.

But this didn’t remove the gun barrel aimed at the Swazi youth by the Swaziland Royal Police. The policemen who shot Noxolo Continue reading

Swaziland report (17 January 2005, ZACF shadow international secretary)

Swaziland report (17 January 2005, ZACF shadow international secretary)

You are in Manzini! The taxi has a South African registration and is blasting toyi-toyi (struggle) songs, reminding you of the days when people’s fear was replaced by the spirit of resistance, the fight against apartheid regime coupled with its demise with the 1994 elections.

Among the folks, individuals are  wearing bright yellow ANC  t-shirts with Mbeki’s head, as if they are appealing to the Swazi king: “Please learn from the South African government. If you don’t listen, the same thing that happened to the former South African regime is going to happen to yours.” Many people are attracted to immigrate to South Africa for jobs. When they visit back home they introduce the life of the big city: they’ve tasted a different life to their fellow-country people, which is giving them guts Continue reading

ZACF, 2004, “Fighting Elections: Inside or Outside?” leaflet

A Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF, later Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front) leaflet making the case against participation in state elections — the target audience was activists in the “new social movements” of the time like the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) coalition, and the Landless Peoples’ Movement (LPM). It was written ahead of the 2004 national elections in South Africa, which were to be followed by the 2005 local government elections. The issue of running a movement-backed “workers party” was a major issue in the APF, where ZACF was most active.

Get the PDF here.

Abel Ramarope (1961-2005): from PAC to anarchism # 2

South Africans we said adieu to in 2005

Independent Online, 3 January 2006, online here

 

Abel Ramarope

1961 – 2005

This former member of the PAC and political activist-turned-anarchist was arrested during the struggle against apartheid and had been a prisoner since then. As an inmate, he formed a clandestine reading and study group on anarchism. He constantly fought corruption in the prison system, which he said was rife. He died in a Pretoria prison while doing time for robbery.

Nokuthula Mashabane

1964 – 2005

This social worker dedicated her life to helping rehabilitate prisoners and to changing their lives after they were set free. Because of Continue reading

Abel Ramarope (1961-2005): from PAC to anarchism # 1

Article from Zabalaza, number 7, 2006, p. 26, here.

Remembering Our Fallen Comrades! Another Anarchist Dies in Prison: 

Abel Ramarope, Political Prisoner Turned Anarchist, died September 2005

by Jonathan Payn

“You must be aware that we are victimised by our fear to stand up for what is entitled us as people whether in prison or outside prison. We are firstly determined to challenge any barbaric or tyrannical system if it needs be. Change is a must; and it shall come and be effected by those who needs to see it.

Well we need to be strong even when we face incarceration. We cannot afford to be sacrificed at the expense of the capitalists. We fought for the transformation of this land, and yet we are deprived of the right to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Now our votes are seen as a priority but our release as political activists/prisoners is not important to them.”

Abel Ramarope

It is always saddening to hear of someone dying in a prison, with cold concrete and steel Continue reading

“Zabalaza News” number 3, 2008

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) published widely: periodicals included Zabalaza magazine (founded in 2001, it became the ZACF’s journal at its formation in 2003), Black Alert (founded 2002, a ZACF publication from 2003), Vuka Motsoaledi / Motsoaledi News (from 2003), and the bulletin Zabalaza News (from around 2008).

Here is a (rare) copy of Zabalaza News: issue 3 from 2008.

2001: Leninism versus anarchism in “NUMSA Bulletin” (South Africa)

A bit of an oddity: an anarchist text in a 2000s publication by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). NUMSA has a (deserved) reputation as a radical unions, but while its roots lie in the anti-capitalist and anti-nationalist “workerist” tradition of the 1980s, by the mid-1990s the union was firmly aligned to the South African Communist Party (SACP) and defined itself as Marxist-Leninist. Its regular magazine in the 1990s and 2000s was the NUMSA Bulletin, which included sophisticated debates on theory and policy. It was surprising to find in this magazine — in the midst of series on socialist theory, dominated with expositions of SACP theory  — a 2001 piece on “Organisations for Socialism: introducing a debate” which gave anarchism a platform. The piece opened by noting that “since its birth, the working class movement has debated intensely, the question of organisations most appropriate to bring about socialism,” then contrasted anarcho-syndicalist conceptions and party-centred views, and then recalled that “Rosa Luxemburg in her 1904 pamphlet, Organisational questions of Russian Social Democracy, took issue with Lenin’s ‘ultra-centralism.'” The body of the text was Grigori Zinoviev’s 1920 speech to the Comintern on “the centrality of the party in a socialist revolution,” followed by “an anarchist critique of the Leninist model of organisation.” This was not a Marxist-Leninist  caricature, but a reprint of a solid critique by leading contemporary Scottish anarchist writer Iain McKay (it was taken from a then-current version of his online Anarchist FAQ – specifically from a section refuting Marxist critiques). The introduction even hoped “that the two articles will spark a debate on the forms of organisation appropriate for the current period,” and raise issues like “the role of unions in the struggle for socialism,” and “the role of other working class structures, such as political parties, soviets, factory committees, co-operatives and civics in the road to socialism” (it also, however, promised to “to publish a Marxist-Leninist critique of anarchism in the next edition of Numsa Bulletin).

Get a PDF of the text here

Thanks to cde “SL” for drawing this to our attention some years back!

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.

 

[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

Repost: “Notes and posters from the Workers’ Library & Museum that was…”

Several posts on the history of the Workers Library and Museum (WLM) and the role of anarchists in this body in the late 1990s and early 2000s can be found on this site: see here.

There is an interesting account of this period by a one-time member of the Bikisha Media Collective (BMC) here (off-site link).

ca. 2003: “Whose Town is Newtown?”

As noted elsewhere, anarchists from Bikisha Media Collective (BMC) played a key role in the Workers Library and Museum (WLM), a non-sectarian labour service organisation then based in Newtown Johannesburg, from the late 1990s into the early 2000s. The WLM was run by an elected committee, with various subcommittees, and BMC members were active in these structures. Some more information on this here and here. As the building used was the property of the Johannesburg town council (later the Greater Johannesburg Meropolian Council), use the buildings depended a good deal on the municipality’s goodwill. In the early and mid-1990s, the municipality was effectively willing to provide the building at a nominal cost (the users were charged for water and lights, and were responsible for maintenance and investment) . The building was part of a former power station complex, which had been closed in the 1970s: the redesign of the old housing section for use by the WLM was an award-winning project by left-wing architects Henry Paine and Alan Lipman.

As neo-liberalism kicked in, and the Newtown Precinct was rethought (by the municipality) as a Continue reading

WSF, 1997, “Only the Workers can Free the Workers: A South African Anarchist Pamphlet”

This text was published by the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF) in South Africa in 1997, and is a shorter version of What is Anarchism? A South African Anarchist Pamphlet: author of both was Lucien van der Walt: details here. The emphasis was on South African issues, and accessible writing. It was republished in 2003 in its current format by WSF successor groups, the Bikisha Media Collective (BMC) and Zabalaza Books. It is not clear what changes, if any, were made in 2003.

Get the PDF here. This text was found at the Zabalaza Books website, which has materials going back to the 1990s, and is located here. Note that is a PDF, and laid out in a format designed to be printed out as a folded, stapled A5 pamphlet.

Get the text here. This is apparently the same text as the PDF (not checked).

There was also an Afrikaans translation of the pamphlet, for distribution in the Western Cape. It differs slightly from the English version, and presents itself as an introduction to the WSF in the title and in the opening. Its in a PDF here and in text here.