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!

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Photo: BMC comrade speaking at Gothenberg protests, Sweden, 2001

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.

2001-an-bmc-gtb-south_african_activist_39036979

Poster – Workers Solidarity Federation – 1998 – “The Poor Must Seize the Land”

This was a poster was one a series produced by the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), in this case for recruiting members at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in its opening (Orientation or “O”) week. WSF was the direct predecessor of today’s Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF). Scanned PDF is here.

WSF - 1998 - The Poor Must Seize the Land poster

 

Photo: ICU poem at Workers Museum (Newtown, Johannesburg, 2014)

After years of neglect, the Workers Museum at the old municipal workers compound in Johannesburg has been upgraded. The story of working class movements presented there is, SAASHA is reliably informed, is selective, with (for example) FOSATU completely absent.

Nonetheless, the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) does get mentioned. The photo below, of an ICU poem in the display, was provided by Warren McGregor. Its gives some sense of the syndicalist influences on the ICU — a union marked by a melange of influences and ideas from 1919 to its decline years later. For some material on the Workers Museum (formerly part of the Workers Library and Museum), see here

Johannesburg-ICU at WLM

Photo: ZACF members in Swaziland 2004

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF, later the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front) in its early years had members in Swaziland; these members came to South Africa quite often, where they were involved in the ZACF collective called the Black Action Group (BAG), based in Motsoaledi, Soweto. Through BAG and ZACF they were also involved in the ZACF-linked Phambili Motsoaledi Community Project. This photo is from 2004. ZACF comrades on left and right, visitor from abroad centre.

ZACF Swaziland 2004  [blur]