It is clear that the rights of the working class and poor people on the ground are not recognised by those in power, and will never be. After the 1994 elections, ordinary people thought that they will feel and enjoy real democracy. But to their surprise, things didn’t work the way they thought. People are being demoralised, threatened and killed when they stand up. It is now difficult for people to exercise their democratic rights.
It’s clear that voting won’t bring any change in people’s lives. The whole system is run by a small ruling class. Voting does not change the system. By voting we are just fooling ourselves about our rights. People voted in 1994 because they thought their votes will bring complete changes in their lives. No one thought of suffering after voting in the first elections. Promises were made by so-called leaders in order to be voted into power. Their promises were a big lie.
by Tina Sizovuka
(Tokologo African Anarchist Collective)
Nelson Mandela has become a brand, “Brand Mandela,” his image, name and prison number used to generate cash and to promote the legend of Mandela. In July 2012, for example, the 46664 clothing line was launched (all “Made in China”).
But “Brand Mandela” is more than just an opportunity to sell stupid trinkets to tourists and celebrities. It is also a dangerous myth, based on Mandela-worship, promoted daily in the public imagination to serve far more sinister interests.
The myth of Mandela is used to give the vicious South African ruling class credibility by association, and to legitimise the the ruling African National Congress (ANC). It is no surprise that the 2012 launch of the new “Randelas” – South Africa’s new set of banknotes, with Mandela on – coincided with the ANC’s national conference at Manguang. (more…)
by Bongi Motahane
(Tokologo African Anarchist Collective)
On 22 August 2012, communities from in, and out, of Gauteng had a meeting at Khanya College, Johannesburg, on the Marikana massacre. More than half of the 50 people who participated, most of the delegates, came from the mine areas affected by the situation in the North West Province. (more…)
Many people in South Africa were shocked by the death of at least 13 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops when rebels overran their base in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Amongst the public and within the media questions soon started arising around the possible reasons why troops were in CAR to begin with. When it emerged that troops were possibly partly deployed to protect businesses in CAR linked to top African National Congress (ANC) officials, there was widespread outrage. The fact that South African troops were involved in protecting the political and economic interests of wealthy people linked to the South African state in CAR, and other African countries, should perhaps, however, not come as a surprise. Throughout its history, whether during apartheid or post apartheid, the South African state – which is controlled by the ruling class and headed up by members of this class – has been most willing to deploy troops in parts of Africa to protect the political, economic and strategic interests of the South African ruling class. (more…)
Statement by the Egyptian Libertarian Socialist Movement
Last Sunday, during the Alexandria court hearing which was to pronounce a verdict on police officers accused of killing protesters during clashes in January 2011, the police in charge of guarding the court began to provoke the victims’ families and activists who had come to support them peacefully as they had done for previous hearings.
You thought French Africa was a thing of the past? It most certainly is not, and despite Hollande’s rhetoric on this issue, as on many others, the Socialist Party and the UMP are like Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
“France has no interest in Mali”, declared François Hollande to the press on 16 January. “It is merely at the county’s service.” Like it? France has no interest in the Sahel region? Not even in the uranium mines in Niger, operated by Areva  to supply French nuclear power plants?
Kapitaliste en Politici Skuldig! Stop Polisie Brutaliteit.
Geen Geregtigheid, geen vrede. Weg met Zuma, weg met Malema, Weg met Lonmin!
Die Grondwet maak voorsiening vir politieke regte en gelykheid. Dit is egter duidelik dat die base en politici maak soos hulle wil. Hulle loop oor die mense. Dit is duidelik in die polisie moorde van die stakers by Lonmin se Marikana myn.
A4 double-sided Flyer [Afrikaans]
Regardless of what is said in the media, the aim of this new war is none other than to strip another country of its natural resources by ensuring access for international companies to do so. What is now happening in Mali with bombs and bullets, is the same thing that is happening in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain through debt bondage.
The French government has stated that:
“it would send 2,500 soldiers to support Malian government soldiers in the conflict against Islamist rebels. France has already deployed around 750 troops to Mali (…) We will continue the deployment of forces on the ground and in the air (…) We have one goal. To ensure that when we leave, when we end our intervention, Mali is safe, has legitimate authorities, an electoral process and there are no more terrorists threatening its territory”. 
Book review of David Porter’s “Eyes to the South; French Anarchists and Algeria”
by Wayne Price
How did French anarchists deal with the Algerian revolution? How did anarchists in an imperialist country reacted to a war for national liberation? What does this tell us about how anarchists today should relate to current struggles for the self-determination of oppressed peoples?
From 1954 to 1962 a vicious war raged between the people of Algeria and the French state. Anarchists in France played a small but significant role in opposing their government’s colonial war. Their activities and views are covered in this exceptional book, along with anarchists’ attitudes toward post-war Algeria. The ways French anarchists opposed the war, and the varying views they held about it, may help today’s anti-authoritarians (in the U.S. and elsewhere) in thinking through our views about struggles against national oppression.
In Egypt as well as in France, we say no to fascism! Statement by Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes
In a context of capitalist crises, the popular revolts are expanding since several years. In Egypt, the revolt took a revolutionary dimension by chasing Mubarak. But it was confronted since the begining to the counter-revolutionary dynamic of religious fascism.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, after staying carefully away from the popular revolt, a revolt they didn’t initiate, were called as a spare wheel by Egyptian bourgeoisie as well as western bourgeoisie.
Playing the historical role the fascists currents – whether they put forward a religion or not – always played, they took a pseudo-revolutionary stance to gain access to political power, becoming thus the real tool of the counter-revolutionary takeover.
by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)
Anarchism is an idea that stands for the reorganisation of society and the economy in order to meet peoples’ needs and not for profit, according to the principle, ‘from each according to ability to each according to need’. It stands for a world in which there are no longer bosses and workers, masters and slaves; a world in which everyone is a free worker, and exploitation and oppression have been abolished.
It was recently reported by various newspapers that ‘a “notorious gang of anarchists” with links to cash heists is attempting to destabilise the Gauteng ANC’. Newspaper articles [*] quoted ANC provincial secretary David Makhura as saying that an ANC investigation would ‘expose the hidden hand of business people who are fuelling and financing activities that seek to disrupt the functioning of the ANC’.
The following article was recently published in the CNT periodical
The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front, or ZACF – Zabalaza meaning ‘struggle’ in isiZulu and isiXhosa – is a specific anarchist political organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a unitary organisation – or federation of individuals, as opposed to a federation of collectives – whereby membership is on an individual basis, by invitation only. This is because we have seen – through our own experience, as well as that of global anarchism historically – that we can accomplish more as an organisation, and be more effective, when our members share a certain level of theoretical and strategic unity, and collective responsibility.
By James Pendlebury, ZACF
Cleaning workers throughout South Africa have been on strike since Monday 8 August. They are demanding a living wage of R4 200 per month, as well as a 13thcheque and shorter hours.
Many of these workers are now paid R2 000 per month or even less, and work under the harshest conditions. The vast majority are black, and a great many are women; their supervisors are often racist and sexist bullies of the worst kind. They are frequently compelled to use dangerous chemicals, without even the protection of gloves; these chemicals can make them sick, and some have died as a result.
Comrades, this presentation covers the themes of global redistribution, economic growth of a new type, and renumeration and what these may mean in an economy based on anarchist principles. I was mandated to examine how these themes related to the two required readings for this week:
(i) Read’s Kropotkin: Selections from his Works, and
(ii) Albert’s Parecon
It has become common knowledge that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. Only 41% of people of working age are employed, while half of the people employed earn less than R 2 500 a month . Worse still, inequality is growing with wages as a share of the national income dropping from 50% in 1994 to 45% in 2009; while profit as a share of national income has soared from 40% to 45% . In real terms this means that while a minority live well – and have luxurious houses, swimming pools, businesses, investments, and cushy positions in the state – the majority of people live in shacks or tiny breezeblock dwellings, are surrounded by squalor, and struggle on a daily basis to acquire the basics of life like food and water. Likewise, while bosses, state managers, and politicians – both black and white – get to strut around in fancy suits barking orders; the majority of people are expected to bow down, do as told, and swallow their pride.
Despite being expected to be subservient, however, protests in working class areas are spreading. People have become fed up with being unemployed, having substandard housing, suffering humiliation, and having their water and electricity cut off. In fact, per person South Africa has the highest rate of protests in the world . It is in this context of growing community direct action, even if still largely un-coordinated, that the state has felt it necessary, at least on a rhetorical level, to declare its intentions to lead a fight against unemployment and reduce inequality. To supposedly do so it unveiled a new economic framework, The New Growth Path (NGP), late in 2010 with the declared aim of creating 5 million jobs by 2020 .
Picking Up the Slack in Waste Collection and Ecological Protection: the Struggle of Recyclable Waste Pickers in Uruguay and Brazil
by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)
Across South America there is a growing movement – assuming different forms and characteristics, but with similar origins, demands and objectives – that, despite it being located at a strategically important intersection between two critical social issues – class struggle and ecology – seems to me to have received little attention in South African academic and activist circles. And this is true despite the fact that the social and economic conditions that gave rise to this movement prevail in South Africa, as they did – and continue to – in many South American countries. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this movement concerns people largely marginalised by industrial society and so-called ‘brown’ ecological issues – such as the pollution and contamination of rivers and dams surrounding poor communities, most acutely effecting the workers and poor – as opposed to the much more sanitary ‘green’ ecological issues – such as conservation and animal welfare – often associated, in South Africa at least, with liberal white activists from the middle and upper classes .
This is the movement of the catadores, as they are known in Brazil, and clasificadores in Uruguay; the recyclable waste pickers and sorters who, similarly to South Africa, constitute a growing informal sector in the industrial production cycle. This includes all people – not formally employed by public or private waste management services – who collect, transport, classify and sell recyclable waste for a living – or ‘work with scrap’ – thus “reducing demand for natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions” . A category of work which, according to the World Bank, is performed by 15 million people globally – or one percent of the world population  – and has become increasingly common in South Africa in recent years.
The biggest single strike since the 1994 parliamentary transition in South Africa showed the unions’ power. It won some wage gains, but it threw away some precious opportunities. We need to celebrate the strike, while learning some lessons:
- the need for more union democracy
- the need to use strikes to link workers and communities
- the need for working class autonomy
- the need to act outside and against the state
- the need to review our positions: against the Tripartite Alliance, for anarcho-syndicalism
In this interview, realised between August and October 2010, the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro – FARJ) talks about its understanding of concepts such as especifismo, organisational dualism, social insertion and the role of the anarchist political organisation in relation to social movements and the class struggle.
It also deals with the recent entry of the FARJ into the Forum of Organised Anarchism (Fórum do Anarquismo Organisado – FAO) and the social effects of Rio de Janeiro being selected as a FIFA 2014 Host City, as well as sometimes difficult questions, such as finding a balance between necessary levels of theoretical and strategic unity, and the need to grow as an organisation.
- This text can be downloaded as a PDF pamphlet here
Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: Debating Black Flame, Revolutionary Anarchism and Historical Marxism
by Lucien van der Walt
This article responds to criticisms of the broad anarchist tradition in International Socialism, an International Socialist Tendency (IST) journal. I will discuss topics such as the use of sources, defending revolutions and freedom, the Spanish anarchists, anarchism and democracy, the historical role of Marxism, and the Russian Revolution.
The articles I am engaging with are marked by commendable goodwill; I strive for the same. Paul Blackledge’s article rejects “caricatured non-debate”. Ian Birchall stresses that “lines between anarchism and Marxism are often blurred”. Leo Zeilig praises Michael Schmidt’s and my book,Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, as “a fascinating account”.
by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
The economic crisis in South Africa has seen inequalities, and the forced misery of the working class, grow. While the rich and politicians have continued to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth, workers and the poor have been forced to suffer. It is in this context that the majority of the leaders of the largest trade unions have, unfortunately, elected to once again place their faith in a social dialogue and partnerships with big business and the state . So while the state and bosses have been on the offensive against workers and the poor, union officials have been appealing to them to save jobs during the crisis. Not surprisingly, this strategy has largely failed. While union leaders and technocrats have been debating about the policies that should or should not be taken to overcome the crisis, bosses and the state have retrenched over 1 million workers in a bid to increase profits . It is, therefore, sheer folly for union leaders to believe that the state and bosses are interested in compromise – without being forced into it. As seen by their actions, the elite are only interested in maintaining their power, wealth and lifestyles by making the workers and the poor pay for the crisis. For the elite, social dialogue is simply a tool to tie the unions up and limit their real strength – direct action by members. In fact, even before the crisis, social dialogue had been a disaster for the unions contributing towards their bureaucratisation and having abysmal results in terms of them trying to influence the state away from its pro-rich macro-economic policies .
Over the last few years, many on the left have been trying to formulate a vision of socialism based on democracy. As a consequence countless papers and talks have been produced internationally about how socialism needs to be participatory if true freedom is to be achieved. Some have given this search for a form of democratic socialism evocative names, such as ‘Twenty-First Century socialism’, ‘socialism-from-below’ and ‘ecosocialism’. In South Africa the desire for a democratic socialism has also inspired initiatives such as the Conference for a Democratic Left (CDL); while even the South African Communist Party has outlined a need for a more participatory socialist agenda.
- This text can be downloaded as a PDF pamphlet here