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
Members of Bikisha Media Collective (BMC) and the Black Action Group initiated the Phambili Motsoaledi Community Project (PMCP) in Soweto in 2002. Both groups were part of the new Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF, later Front).
The advert below, for the Workers Library and Musem (WLM), mentions its Workers’ Bookshop carrying anarchist/ syndicalist materials from Bikisha Media Collective (BMC) and Zabalaza Books. The WLM was a non-sectarian labour support organisation, based in downtown Johannesburg, in which some anarchists from the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), then Bikisha participated 1998-2002. Records indicate sales of BMC and Zabalaza Books materials were brisk. The Workers’ Bookshop carried a wide range of left and labour materials, and was probably the only shop of its sort in South Africa at the time. The WLM was effectively closed and absorbed into Khanya College, with which it had partnered from around 1999, in the mid-2000s. The WLM was used by a range of groups as a meeting space, including the Anti-Privatisation Forum, WSF, and later the BMC, which also ran several Red and Black Forums there. More on BMC at the WLM here.
SOURCE for advert: South African Labour Bulletin, volume 24, number 3, June 2000, page 34.
Click on image for a PDF version.
The Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) was formed in mid-2000 in Johannesburg through a merger of the Wits Crisis Committee (opposed to the Wits 2001 neo-liberal programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, or “Wits”) and the Anti-Igoli Forum (a coalition of groups opposed to the City of Johannesburg’s Igoli 2000 neo-liberal programme). The Bikisha Media Collective was formally affiliated to the APF and anarchists / syndicalists played various roles in the first five or so years of the APF. Below is a newspaper article from The Citizen newspaper 2002 which includes a photo of APF protestors at the Jeppe Magistrates Court (Johannesburg) following the arrest of a number of 87 APF members for a protest at Mayor Amos Masondo’s house, during which some protestors damaged property. Banners and t-shirts include APF affiliates the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC) and the Kathorus Concerned Residents (KCR). It also includes articles on the arrests, and struggles in Ikageng and Soweto and elsewhere against evictions and electricity disconnections.
Click on the image for a high quality JPG scan.
Anarchists/ syndicalists had some presence at the University of the Witwatersrand (“Wits”) in Johannesburg since the early 1990s through ARM, then WSF, the BMC, and then through the ZACF, including for example, involvement in student protests in 2007. They also had a sporadic presence in the Wits Workers Solidarity Committee, which worked with outsourced cleaners, and were part of the “Anti-Government-in-Exile of Wits University” — the latter was a broad group that, in late 2011, deliberately disrupted campus cleaning through direct action and its members were charged with disciplinary infringements by the University management. From 2010, there were study groups and the creation of a ZACF-linked student Inkuleleko anarchist group.
See below for a 1) (low quality) picture of a Wits protest in which ARM participated in March 1995; 2) below that are some YouTube videos of the “Anti-Government-in-Exile of Wits University,” 3) followed by a statement by the “Anti-Government-in-Exile of Wits University.”
STATEMENT BY THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT-IN-EXILE OF WITS UNIVERSITY
Anarkismo preface (not part of the statement) in italics: Beginning on Sunday 28 August, Wits students have been littering parts of campus in solidarity with the cleaners’ strike. Cleaners throughout South Africa are demanding a living wage of R4 200 per month: this compares with less than R2 000 paid to cleaners at Wits, who are employed by outsourcing companies such as Supercare. The strike has been undermined, at Wits and elsewhere, by the presence of scab labour; Wits management and the outsourcing companies are striving for “business as usual”. This undermines the entire purpose of the strike, which is to compel exploiter-managers to meet workers’ demands by withdrawing their labour, by preventing the job from getting done – by making sure the campus is not clean.
Striking workers are unable to keep up a picket line or do anything about the scabs because they have been barred from campus. A court interdict has ordered them not to come within 20 metres of any workplace; and their Wits access cards have been blocked for the duration of the strike. This leav€es it to Wits students and staff to act in solidarity with the workers. The purpose of Operation Litter is to undermine the scabs and help the strike to achieve its purpose.
On Tuesday 30 August, three students were summoned before Deputy Vice-Chancellor Yunus Ballim on less than two hours’ notice. Ballim was acting under rule 1 of Wits’s Rules for Student Discipline, which allows top management to suspend students if they think we are “guilty of misconduct”. Ballim told us that this rule is designed for emergencies; that he considers us a “threat to the university”; and that what he is doing is what he does when a student appears to be engaged in assault or sexual abuse.
This view of Ballim is, quite simply, an insult to anyone who faces assault or sexual abuse. How can there be any comparison between such crimes and our actions? We have acted in solidarity with strikers to strengthen their resistance. We have harmed nobody, nor in any way threatened the activities of higher learning. Which “university” does Ballim think we threaten? If he regards this nebulous “threat to the university” as somehow similar to sexual abuse, we must worry about his commitment to opposing sexual abuse.
Ballim and his colleagues in top management act like the university belongs to them. They have ordered us, for up to 45 days, to “refrain from entering the precincts of the University … except for the purposes of attending activities strictly and directly related to your academic pursuits”. This is pending full disciplinary action for our alleged “misconduct”. In effect, they have exiled us from the political life of campus, banned us both from attending meetings and from engaging in political actions. They say we are a threat to the university; but we say that, within Wits, the greatest threat to the university as a place of higher learning comes from top management. Consider some of the policies of management since 2000:
- They cut academic staff as part of restructuring measures, and persistently maintain insufficient numbers of teachers for lecturing, tutorials and supervision.
- They phase out bridging programmes to help students make the transition from school to university.
- They encourage academics to orient their research to profitable activities, i.e. to the needs of capital and the rich ruling class.
- They continually increase fees, closing the doors of learning and culture to poor students, and slam the doors in students’ faces with massive up-front payments that prevent us from even entering the halls in the first place.
- They impose bureaucratic hurdles to hamper the ability of students and staff to publicise radical views on campus, while readily opening their doors to representatives of the murderous racist state of Israel.
- By outsourcing cleaners and other workers since 2000, they undermine union organisation and leave these workers far less able to defend themselves.
- They not only cut in half the wages of the outsourced workers, but deprive their children of the opportunity for free education at Wits.
- They condone apartheid practices by restricting outsourced (overwhelmingly black) workers to separate entrances, separate eating places and separate toilets, and ban these workers even from holding meetings on campus.
- In short, they strive to turn higher learning and public discussion into a commodity available to a few, and undermine the universal culture of vigorous debate and progress that has long been part of higher learning at Wits.
Who, then, is a threat to the university, and who are its defenders? We are now exiled from the political life of Wits, but we will be back. We have done nothing wrong, we have harmed no one, we knew the risks, we have no regrets. We remain committed to the struggle of students and workers, and we stand behind our fellow Witsies as they continue their solidarity actions. We remain behind the workers as they carry on the strike, behind the fight to put an end to outsourcing and bring the workers back to Wits – and behind the great battle to take back our university, to make a place of higher learning that belongs not to a few managers and capitalists, but to all who live and work in it.
M* N*, J* P*, K* P*
Speech by BMC member at Paris May Day 2000 mass meeting, Le Autre Futur / “For Another Future through Social Resistance”, anarchist/ syndicalist summit, 1 May 2000. Le Autre Futur was an international anarchist/ syndicalist summit in Paris, 2000, organised by the National Confederation of Labour (CNT)-Vignolles, then the largest syndicalist union in France. It was attended by a substantial number of international groups, among them 4 members of the (south African) anarchist Bikisha Media Collective. The talk below is a typed-up version of the speech notes given by a BMC representative at a large mass meeting of participants, prior to the 5,000-strong anarchist/syndicalist bloc joining the main May Day march. The notes may not be entirely complete.
We live in a period of class war. Not a class war we started. It is a class war from above, it is a class war waged on our class, the working class, it is a class war from above by corporations and states. [PAUSE]
Capitalist globalisation, the neo-liberal offensive, these open up the abyss before us. Now, more than ever before, we face a single enemy. Now, more than ever, working class solidarity, internationalism, direct action, free agreement … These are our VITAL weapons against capitalism. [PAUSE]
It does not matter if you are Asian, African. European, American. We are one class of people, with one class interest. We musty get together, unite, as workers. [PAUSE]
Internationalism, solidarity, these are not just SLOGANS, they are weapons, tools for struggle, tools for survival. Internationalism, solidarity, these are not just NECESSITIES … more and more we are making this [these?] REALITY. [PAUSE]
The capitalist offensive must be met with a workers’ offensive. We must not turn a sharp blade into an instrument of dull wood [SAASHA note: this is a quote from Mexican anarchist Práxedis G. Guerrero ]. We must not leave anarcho-syndicalism to gather dust. We must use it as a vital key to unlock another future [“Le Autre Futur”], another future through social resistance [SAASHA: the conference slogan]. [PAUSE]
Anarcho-syndicalism is the answer to the capitalist new world order!
Anarcho-syndicalism is the answer to the capitalist new world order!
With the support of European anarcho-syndicalists and revolutionary syndicalists, a number of activists from Bangladesh, Chile, Mexico, Nepal, Russia and South Africa attended the anti-European Union summit in Gothenberg, Sweden, in mid-June 2001.
The Bangladesh and Nepal delegates were from independent — but not anarcho-syndicalist or revolutionary syndicalist — unions with links to the anarchists and syndicalists. Those from Chile, Mexico, Nepal, Russia and South Africa were from anarchist and/ or syndicalist groups, the South Africans from the Bikisha Media Collective, a successor of the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF).
Below is part of the programme for the red-and-black, anarchist/ syndicalist movement, in the larger anti-EU events, under the banner “For Another Europe, For Another World.” It gives some indication of the various sessions and activities where the Bikisha activists were participants. For more context on the protests, riots and repression, see here.
For the partial scan of the syndicalist programme of activities, click here
Leaflet distributed in Cape Town.
See no. 25: Bikisha Media Collective (BMC). In 2003 the BMC became part of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (later Front).
The following document is copied from here
List of APF affiliates 2003-2004
Tuesday 14 September 2004 by Trevor
This is a list of APF affiliates. This is list is not exhaustive as new community organisations have shown an interest in the APF and some are affiliating.
Vaal region: 1. Bophelong Community Development Forum 2. Evaton West Community Crisis Committee 3. Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee 4. Vaal Community Forum 5. Small Farm Community Crisis Committee 6. Kanana Community Crisis Committee 7. Vaal Learners Representative Forum
East Rand region: 8. Daveyton Community Peace Civic 9. Tsakane Concerned Residents 10. Kathorus Concerned Residents 11. Tembisa Concerned Residents Committee
Pretoria region: 12. Atteridgeville Concerned Residents Committee 13. Soshanguve Concerned Residents Committee 14. Ikageng Community Crisis Committee
Johannesburg region: 15. Alexandra Vukuzenzele Community Forum. 16. Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee 17. Thembelihle Crisis Committee 18. Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee 19. Inner City Forum 20. Mandela Village (DRD) Crisis Committee 21. Motsoaledi Concerned Residents
Political affiliates: 22. Keep Left 23. African Peoples Democratic Union of South Africa 24. Socialist Group 25. Bikitsha Media Collective