WSF (1998): “PAC leader says ‘ban the trade unions'”

WSF (1998): “PAC leader says ‘ban the trade unions'”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 1, first quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The PAC [Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania] is sometimes seen as a radical alternative to ANC.

However, in an interview in The Sowetan, PAC leader Bishop Stanley Mogoba said that South African workers are too lazy. He stated that the way to rebuild the economy and create “normal” conditions is to ban the trade unions for 3 years! Mogoba praised the Asian dictatorships like Singapore: while these countries are not democratic, they are “progressive” and have good “work ethics” !!

Workers! You are not beasts of burden- you are the majority! Who are these politicians to dare talk of banning your fighting unions?! Do not trust the politicians- they are part of the problem!

Reject the politicians! Only the workers can free the workers!

WSF (1998): “Bad boy’s club: The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and mass murder in the Third World”

WSF (1998): “Bad boy’s club: The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and mass murder in the Third World”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The SABC adverts proclaimed it “the biggest peace movement in the world”. With police motorcycle sirens wailing, 467 brand new stretch limousines followed by secret service agents in 4x4s drove at breakneck speed through Durban towards luxury hotel suites. The cops had hustled the street kids off the pavements out of sight of the foreign TV cameras. Snipers adorned rooftops and recces prowled the sewers below. The bad boys of the Non-Aligned Movement were in town for their R75-million debating society party.

Peace movement! Ha! If you believe that, you need your head read.

NAM founder India and arch-rival Pakistan were there, having recently flexed their muscles in a display of idiotic, genocidal behaviour by conducting !@#$%^&*-for-tat atomic bomb tests that threatened to plunge Asia into nuclear war.

The United States- the only government insane enough to have actually committed atomic genocide – was there as an “observer” of 1998’s most dangerous neighbourhood argument.

So too were Ethiopia and Eritrea whose guns were only just cooling after having belted the hell out of each other’s civilian populations. And let’s not forget the “Democratic” Republic of Congo where dictator and tribalist Laurent Kabila was backstabbing his former allies.

Talk of “democracy” and human rights” was hot air for the media. Take Burma, where the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council crushes all minority ethnic groups and any attempt at democracy. South Africa has helped prop up this anti-worker reign of terror by selling the junta R1-million in arms between April 1994 and February 1998. Or Indonesia, where a brutal regime which climbed to power on the corpses of perhaps a million murdered leftists, still gluts itself at the public trough, jails trade unionists, and commits genocide in East Timor. Our bosses sold them R1,9-million in arms over the same period.

Or former NAM chair country Colombia, where the regime, with United States backing, wages a bitter murder

campaign against working and poor people under the guise of a fake “war on drugs”. South Africa sold them R184-million in arms.

What about Sudan, where a Muslim fundamentalist regime has outlawed any social group that is not a state organ? Well, we sold them R7,4-million in arms. And Algeria, where civil war between the terrorist junta and the terrorist opposition has seen entire villages wiped out and has cost well over 60,000 lives? R11-million in arms.

And this is not even to begin addressing the violent anti-worker neo-liberal “New World Order” which most of the NAM elite are welcoming with open arms: privatisation, casualisation, flexible labour, cuts in education and health spending.

So who heads up this nest of vipers? Well, South Africa of course, which has tried to use the buzz word of “African Renaissance” to cover the stench of its role as an exporter of death and oppression (identical to its role during apartheid, except that thanks to the end of the arms embargo, we are now able to sell killing equipment to more countries than ever before). President Nelson Mandela made it quite clear on his last visit to Asia – when oppressed people were desperately expecting him to take a hard line in defence of human rights – that South Africa will trade with anyone- even dictatorships.

The NAM summit saw South Africa trying to play a leading role in sub-Saharan Africa as a regional power-broker, a sort of overseer cracking the whip on countries seen as not toeing the neo-liberal line, a strategy which should endear it to the United States, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Both the 1995 Rwandan genocide (which saw SA assault rifles used against civilians) and the 1998 SANDF-lead invasion of Lesotho show that working class and poor people in the region and elsewhere in the world face the very real threat of finding themselves staring down the barrel of a South African-made gun.

(*arms sale figures: Sunday Times, June 28, 1998)

WSF (1998): “The Alliance: An Unhappy Marriage — Communists must choose — COSATU must be independent”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The Alliance: An unhappy marriage/ Communists must choose GEAR or the workers/ COSATU must be independent

Nationalisation is the fundamental policy of the ANC”
– Nelson Mandela, 1990.
“Privatisation is the fundamental policy of the ANC”
– Nelson Mandela, 1994.

At the heart of current problems within the Tripartite Alliance (ANC, SA Communist Party, COSATU) is a central fault line- GEAR. There is a conflict between two basic agendas- the GEAR programme of privatisation, retrenchment, and cuts in government spending, and the demands of the Black working class for redistribution and empowerment. The two agendas are mutually incompatible. That is, the two agendas cannot be reconciled. This is the basic factor undermining the Alliance, splitting it into two camps: ANC, which supports GEAR, and SACP/COSATU, which do not.


Leaders in both sides have tried to cover up the divisions. The ANC’s basic approach has been to try and silence criticism of GEAR. This is why Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela have lectured both the SACP congress and the COSATU central committee mini-conference that the ANC will not retreat on GEAR. The ANC approach is this: to save the failing marriage by asserting the authority of the ANC as head of the household. The ANC is not looking for a democratic family, instead, it is telling its partners to toe the line and know their place. At the SACP congress, Mbeki went so far as to claim opponents of GEAR remind him of White right-wingers. When Mandela spoke, delegates were instructed, like little children, to stop singing Asifune GEAR. The ANC is skilfully manipulating workers loyalty to Congress to silence workers voices and to impose anti-worker policies.


The recent Alliance discussion document that hints at a review of GEAR does not change the situation. ANC blames the failure of GEAR to create jobs and growth on international factors (the world economy is in depression), and on slow implementation. It does not see any basic problem in GEAR itself. Therefore it is certain that ANC will NOT retreat on GEAR. Could the document be an attempt to create a mirage of consultation so near the elections?


SACP members must now choose- either the alliance with the ANC (and GEAR), or the fight for socialism and workers power.

COSATU members must choose- to turn the organisation into an independent fighting movement of the working class, or to be reduced to a “silent partner” which cannot challenge anti-worker policies like privatisation, and which tries to solve all problems by “discussions in the alliance”.

Workers must begin to break from Congress.




The SA Communist Party originally entered into alliance with the ANC because it believed the ANC was the main force for progressive change in South Africa.

This position can not be justified after the events of the 1998 SACP conference.

At this conference the SACP was told in the clearest possible terms that the ANC was NOT going to get rid of the anti-worker GEAR policy.

If the SACP stands for the workers struggle, and for socialism, then it must realise the Alliance with the ANC no longer serves a progressive purpose. A vote for ANC in the next elections is a vote for GEAR.

ARM, ca.1994: Lucien van der Walt, “The Fire Next Time: Lessons of the Los Angeles (LA) Uprising”

This introduction was written for a reprinted imported pamphlet on the 1992 LA riots in the USA.  A copy of the pamphlet itself will be uploaded at a later stage. The introduction was by the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) group at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). It spells out the standard positions: opposition to racism and national oppression, anti-nationalism, and class struggle. This section of ARM later became part of the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF). The author was “L.V.” = Lucien van der Walt.


At a meeting at the First A.M.E. Church during the first hours of the rioting, the mayor, clergy, and community leaders were booed and ignored by much of the audience. A young Black women charged the podium, and took control of  the microphone. “We can’t rely on these people up here to act … I believe they have our best interests at heart, but we cannot rely on them … You know what we need to do … ”  (from Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist News monthly June 1992. New York)

The LA uprising of 1992 was a class rebellion in the heart of capitalist America. Triggered by the acquittal of four White cops videotaped beating a Black truck driver, Rodney King, the uprising spread through dozens of American cities, and even internationally: in Berlin, masked youths battled police under banners calling for the destruction of capitalism and proclaiming “LA did the right thing.” While people of many different backgrounds participated in the action, there is no doubt that poor Blacks, one of the most oppressed segments of the US working class led the way. This shows that Black liberation must be central to any real  working class challenge to the system. By the time the  military and police forces of the regime managed to put down the uprising, there had been 58 deaths (mostly Black), 4,000 injuries, 12,000 arrests, 10,000 businesses destroyed and countless shops looted.

The bulk of this pamphlet provides an eyewitness account of the revolt as it happened in Los Angeles itself. A final section looks draws out some of the significance of the uprising. In this introduction we argue that this sort of rising can and should be turned into a revolutionary attack on the State and capitalist system. We also suggest what Anarchist revolutionaries can do to achieve this.

Its quite clear that capitalism and the State lie at the heart of the oppressive and marginalised experiences faced by working class people in America’s inner-cities. Lower class Black Americans were supposedly “emancipated” over a 125 years ago but racism and poverty is still an everyday experience.  “Of Black men between the ages 20 to 29. 1 in 4 will go to prison or be placed on probation. 60% of women in prison are women of color. Poverty and the absence of other opportunities to escape it compel many Black youth to turn to gangs, drugs, and anti- social crime … Half of all Black and Hispanic youth of South Central LA belong to gangs. in Central LA, half of the Black families fall below the poverty line, and youth unemployment hovers at 50%.” (Love and Rage June 1992).

This oppression is clearly rooted in a racist capitalist order that has roots in the Slave trade, where racism was used to justify the sale of human beings. Today, racism still serves the ruling class who divide working class people into fractions on the basis of differential levels of treatment(eg. different wages, jobs, social services), with Blacks and women at the bottom of the heap. This hampers united resistance, and it makes for super- exploitation of disempowered sections  of the workforce.

At the same time, the extreme poverty of the inner- cities is linked to capitalism’s incessant hunger for profits, as usual at the expense of people. The inner- cities were mostly built around large factories which have since migrated from the high taxes and wages of the cities to suburbs and third world countries, Here unions are often repressed, wages low, and environmental controls non- existent. At the same time as inner city wages fall, the corporations are making huge profits and the bosses receiving record pay increases (LA Today … 1992, Minneapolis, p1). In the USA, the top 4% earns as much as the bottom 50% of the population (Plain Words, 1994, New Jersey, p4).

Quite obviously then, we need to destroy capitalism and the State once and for all. We need to establish a new society based on grassroots worker and community councils, and distribution and production according to need not profit. This is anarchism or free socialism (as opposed to the State capitalist dictatorships set up by the Marxist “communists” since 1917).  This must be the task of the working class (white- and blue- collar workers, workers’ families and youth, the unemployed and the rural poor).

Why? Firstly, only a productive class can set up a truly free society, for the simple reason that only a productive class does not need to exploit and dominate others in order to survive. Secondly, class position fundamentally shapes the experience of oppression. The Black middle/ upper class (professionals and capitalists) that led the civil rights movement has expanded rapidly, living off the sweat of all American workers. While between 1967 and 1990 the proportion of Black families at the lowest income level grew by 50%, the percentage of high income Black families more than doubled (New York Times, September 25, 1992). Not surprisingly, the Black middle class and capitalists firmly supported the military occupation of the ghettos, because working class fightback was not in their interests.

Clearly, the arguments of Black nationalists that all Blacks should unite across color lines is very wrong, basically because Blacks do not have the same class interests. Working class Blacks have more in common with working class Whites, also at the !@#$%^&* end of the bosses stick, than the Black midde/upper class.

But we do not take a simplistic “class unity” line.  Precisely because of the historic divisions in the working class, its especially oppressed segments (like women, Blacks, and homosexuals) need to organize themselves to be able to put their own specific problems firmly on the agenda of the revolutionary working class movement. This is the basis for principled class unity, and a revolution that will smash all oppression.

What can Anarchists do to turn revolts such as the LA uprisings in a revolutionary direction? Firstly, we must get involved with and support all genuine working class resistance. At the same time, however, we need to spread the ideals of revolutionary Anarchism through the working class.

In practical terms this means debate as equals, and cheap revolutionary literature. In both cases we must argue against authoritarian (or top-down) politics on the left and right, spread information about resistance, and draw the lessons of earlier struggles. We must argue that the working class take direct action to secure its own particular interests (eg. for housing, jobs, peace, and freedom), and to ultimately smash the system. In no case do we assume, as the Marxists do, that our analysis gives us the right to speak for or act in the place of the working class (this is called vanguardism — the belief that a certain left-wing “party” has the right to rule the ruling [sic.] class, as in Russia).

Secondly, we need to start to build practical alternative structures which demonstrate the viability of Anarchist politics. Some of these demonstrate new ways of organizing production and distribution: collective childcare facilities, community- run clinics, free shops that redistribute old clothes, community gardens, local newspapers, workers theater etc. Other counter- institutions will play a more confrontational role: street committees, revolutionary trade unions that aim to seize and democratically administer the land and factories, and self- defense units which are internally democratic and accountable to the community. In no case do we place any faith in the parliamentary system.

If we build the revolution today, the next mass rising has a very real chance of become an insurrection that can provide a sustained revolutionary challenge to the system.


L.V. [Lucien van der Walt]

WSF (1996): Lucien van der Walt, “What Anarchist-Syndicalists Believe: Understanding And Defeating Racism”

WSF (1996): “What Anarchist-Syndicalists Believe: Understanding and Defeating Racism” by Lucien van der Walt

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 2, number 2, third quarter 1996. Complete PDF is here

We Anarchist- Syndicalists fight all domination and exploitation. We are for Stateless Socialism (Anarchism), grassroots democracy and individual freedom. The fight against racism is a central part of our program.

Racism is not natural or inevitable. It is rooted in class society.

Racism developed alongside capitalism and the modern State Continue reading

WSF (1996): “No To New Pass Laws: Solidarity With Immigrants! ”

WSF (1996): “No To New Pass Laws: Solidarity With Immigrants! ”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 2, number 2, third quarter 1996. Complete PDF is here

For centuries bosses and rulers have set out to divide and rule the workers and the poor. We are divided by racism, sexism, homophobia, ethnicity etc.. More recently bosses have used xenophobia- the hate of foreigners and immigrants.

The bosses’ newspapers and TV lie to us and tell us that so -called “illegal” immigrants or “aliens” are taking jobs and causing crime. The government passes harsh laws to victimise the immigrants. Last year alone 157,084 people were deported from South Africa. These people lost their homes, their jobs, their belonging. Families were split up.

In mid 1996 parliament passed the new Aliens Control Amendment Act. One of the main forces behind this act was Gatsha Buthelezi, Home Affairs Minister [IFP leader, part of the GNU/ Government of National Unity].

The new Act steps up police harassment and deportation of immigrants. It is a blatant attack on Black working-class people and we should mobilise to fight it.

All immigrants now have to apply to the South African Embassy for permits to enter the country. But the laws have been made to effectively keep working- class and poor people out .

Immigrants are expected to pay R 5 580 for a permit to enter the country and a extra R 360 for a work permit. People found living in South Africa illegally are fined R 4 000 or a one year prison sentence, or both. Of course these people can also be deported.

No working- class or poor immigrant can afford to pay this. This means that only the rich are allowed to enter our new country.

In practice the police only raid black immigrants. This effects all black workers and poor. If you are black and found without you ID document the police will arrest you. The police never ask rich or white people for their ID documents to check if they are “illegal” immigrants.

For more than 50 years Black South Africans were harassed, thrown in jail, and pushed around under the pass laws. Now Buthelezi wants the same thing to continue happening to us and too Black people from other countries. Immigration laws are no different to pass laws. Black workers are still not able to chose to live or work where they like.

Immigrants who acquire permanent residence rights are not allowed to move from one province to another for a year after their application is approved. They will even have to pay the Home Affairs Department R 360 to apply for permission to change jobs!!

The government has justified keeping poor and working class immigrants out by arguing that immigrants cause crime and take away jobs.

This is a lie! Crime and unemployment are the direct result of the bosses system. It is the bosses which throw workers out of their jobs. It is the bosses who do not invest money into job creation. It is the poverty caused by capitalism which forces people into crime.

Do not be fooled. Lets turn our anger on the real enemy: the bosses and the rulers. We the working-class create wealth. We make the factories, the schools, houses, roads. The bosses live off our sweat, and we starve.

We should live better than we do now. Put aside the false divisions of immigrant versus South African. Unite all workers and poor people in mass trade unions and civics. And fight back!

WSF (1996): “Fight Squatter Evictions”

WSF (1996): “Fight Squatter Evictions”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 2, number 1, first quarter 1996. Complete PDF is here

The last few months of 1995 have seen a wave of attempts by government structures to evict squatters in Gauteng. There are about 7 million squatters in South Africa.

In June 1994, the State, civic organisations and squatters agreed to call a moratorium on land invasions and evictions. According to this agreement, squatters settled before June 1994 would not face eviction. All land invasions after this period would be illegal. This agreement has been used to attack squatter communities.


Squatters were evicted from Moffat Park in south Johannesburg by the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council. These actions were supported by conservative (White) residents Continue reading