The photo below recently surfaced at Wikipedia, where it was incorrectly identified as the image of a speaker from the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF, later ZAC Front) speaking in 2005. In fact, the speaker is comrade AN, from the Bikisha Media Collective (BMC), speaking in 2001 at the Gothenberg anti-EU protests. More on the BMC in those events can be found here.
Members of the 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. Below is a cap produced by the WLM for a major cultural event in 1999, the “Zabalaza WorkerFest” (BMC members were not active in this event, but the cap indicates some of the scope and ambition of the WLM).
Note: The term “Zabalaza” means struggle and the “Zabalaza Workerfest” had no links to the later anarchist formation, the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (later “Front”, ZACF).
Members of the Bikisha Media Collective attended the April / May 2000 “Le Autre Futur” international anarchist and syndicalist congress hosted in Paris by the National Confederation of Labour-France (“Paris”/ “Vignoles”, hereafter CNT-F). This brought together a number of formations, internationally, mainly the bigger revolutionary and anarcho-syndicalist unions. These included the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) from the United States, the anarcho-syndicalist Unicobas from Italy, and the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) of Spain. Also present was the syndicalist-influenced Central Workers Organisation (SAC) of Sweden. BMC members participated actively in the events.
Note: There were important splits amongst the syndicalist unions internationally, thus the CNT-F hosting this event was known as the “Paris” or “Vignoles”CNT-F after its headquarters at 33 Rue de Vignoles (33 Vignoles road) in Paris. BMC and its successors never took an official position on the splits, but it would be fair to say that they had and have historic ties with the CNT-F, CGT and SAC.
The t-shirt below was an official event t-shirt bought by a BMC member.
Early T-shirt from the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), of which the Bikisha Media Collective (BMC), and then the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (later “Front”, the ZACF) were affiliates. BMC members, active in the campaign against “Wits 2001” restructuring at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 1999/2000, can be considered among the founding members of the APF, as they were part of the Wits 2001 Crisis Committee and NEHAWU, which joined other formations to establish the APF in mid-2000. BMC subsequently affiliated formally, and when BMC merged with other anarchist formations to form the ZACF, ZACF continued as an APF affiliate. A BMC / ZACF member was one of the two initial APF media officers. ZACF participation in the APF tapered off in the late 2000s.
T-shirt from campaign against neo-liberal “Wits 2001” restructuring at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 1999 and 2000. T-shirts were sponsored by the National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) (the front of the shirt has the NEHAWU logo). NEHAWU was the main support service workers’ union on campus, perhaps 600 strong at Wits at the time, with a proud struggle history. Anarchists linked to the Bikisha Media Collective (BMC) were involved in the campaign — especially against the outsourcing of service workers, who were mainly NEHAWU members. Participation by anarchists was through the Wits 2001 Crisis Committee, NEHAWU, and the Lesedi Socialist Study Circle. The Wits Crisis Committee later merged (mid-2000) with other bodies to form the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), of which the BMC, and then the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (later “Front”, the ZACF) were affiliates.
Materials by the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (later: Front, ZACF) were carried in the Paris-based Afrique Sans Chaines, which ran for at least 5 issues. Afrique Sans Chaines was produced by the Africa team of the International Secretariat of the CNT-Vignolles, an anarcho-syndicalist union with which the ZACF and, before it, Bikisha Media Collective, had links. Afrique Sans Chaines focussed on African workers in France, African news and African trade unions, and African anarchist and syndicalist news. Several issues of the ZACF’s journal, Zabalaza, carried adverts for Afrique Sans Chaines as well, and Afrique Sans Chaines described Zabalaza as its “sister” journal. In practice, Afrique Sans Chaines carried materials on “Francophone” Africa, and Zabalaza, on “English-speaking” Africa.
Below are complete copies of issues of Afrique Sans Chaines in which Zabalaza or ZACF material (in French, naturally) was carried.
Issue 1 here
Issue 2 here
Issue 3 here
Issue 4 here
A copy of Issue 5 (no Zabalaza material) is here for reference.
Like the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (later Front, ZACF) was keen on international linkages. It was part of the International Libertarian Solidarity (ILS) network of slightly over 20 groups from across the world, mainly indepedent anarcho-syndicalist and revolutonary syndicalist unions, as well as anarchist political groups (mainly Platformist and especifist). Due to the various splits in the syndicalist unions, the ILS (which attracted some of these unions) was opposed by the International Workers Association (which attracted others).
ILS member groups (besides ZACF) included Auca – Socialismo Libertario (Argentina), Organisación Socialista Libertaria (Argentina), Luta Libertaria (Brazil), Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (Brazil), North-Eastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (Canada & USA), Ora-Solidarita (Czech Republic), Réseau No Pasaran (France), Offensive Libertaire Et Sociale (France), Alternative Libertaire (France), Organisation Communiste Libertaire (France), Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland), Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy), Al-Badil Al-Chooui Al-Taharouri (Lebanon), Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca “Ricardo Flores Magon” (Mexico), Red Libertaria Apoyo Mutuo (Spain), Organisation Socialiste Libertaire (Switzerland), and the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (Uruguay). The unions involved were Confederazione Italia di Base Unicobas (Unicobas, Italy) , Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT, Spain), and SAC (Sweden). Messages of support for the main founding meeting in Madrid in 2001 also came from Anacho Syndico (India), Federation Anarchiste (France), IWW (USA), SKT (Siberia), USI-Rome (Italy) (the latter three are also unions).
ILS was short-lived, although it undertook some solidarity projects with the Latin American Groups, issued an electronic bulletin, and adopted a Declaration, which is provided below. More can be read of ILS at wikipedia here and its webpage is archived here.
Declaration of the International Libertarian Meeting
Madrid, 31st March & 1st April 2001
The men and women from different parts of the world who have come here