This issue of Zabalaza (no. 12) comes out in a period characterised by significant political changes and transitions. On the international terrain, the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, which began in late 2010 but have continued into recent months, have been a key topic of discussion – in both the mainstream media and in activist circles. There has been a tendency for these to be portrayed in the media simply as “struggles for democracy”. Likewise, the media often reproduce an incomplete version of events – depicting the uprisings as “coming out of nowhere”. In fact, in many cases the demands of the masses have raised far more profound questions about the basic distribution of both wealth and power in society, and are the culmination of struggles that go back some ten years, by both the masses and organised labour, around high unemployment, rapidly rising food prices, poor living conditions, open corruption by the ruling elites, and a lack of basic political freedoms (produced in part by the introduction of neoliberal reforms). In this issue we focus attention on the Egyptian case, looking specifically at the possibilities the situation holds for the future.
This upsurge was also felt much closer to home. In Swaziland, protests erupted on April 12th involving political organisations, trade unions and other popular pro-democracy groups (many of which were banned under the longest standing state of emergency in history), demanding an end to the undemocratic and dictatorial monarchy and the hunger and suffering it has brought to Swazi people. In Zimbabwe too, 46 activists were arrested, tortured and charged with treason for supposedly attempting the overthrow of the Government, “the Egyptian way”. In reality, the activists had simply gathered to watch films and hold discussions about the uprising in Egypt. Members of the ZACF were involved in the solidarity campaign with the trialists by contributing to the bail and defence fund, and in facilitating the release of an international anarchist statement in solidarity with the accused.
Since the last issue some interesting developments have occurred in South Africa too, including the launch of a new umbrella body, the Democratic Left Front (formerly the Conference of the Democratic Left) that seeks to unite social movements, independent trade unions and political organisations. With some reservations, the ZACF has played a role in this process, attending the national conference, which took place in January this year.
Our involvement in this body has also seen us active in a Mineline/TAP Workers’ Solidarity Committee formed in support of the historic factory occupation, which was undertaken by Mineline/TAP workers at their factory near Krugersdorp in Johannesburg, and courageously held down until the factory was auctioned on May 19th this year.
South Africans protesting for basic rights and a decent life have also been confronted with an alarming increase in police brutality and state repression. The death of Andries Tatane, covered in this issue of Zabalaza, is just one example, and must be seen against the backdrop of heightened “securitisation”, including the militarisation of the police force and the attempted introduction of a new “Secrecy Bill” designed to limit public access to, and introduce heavy penalties for those in possession of classified information.
As with all our issues, this release reiterates the insights and contributions made by anarchism and syndicalism to the movement of working class, and emphasises the effectiveness of anarchist ideas and practices to popular struggles, both at home and abroad. We are also very pleased to welcome articles from new writers who have recently joined the Zabalaza Collective.
The struggle continues!
Forward to international popular class unity!
Forward with anarchism and to the free society!
THE ZABALAZA ANARCHIST COMMUNIST FRONT
JOHANNESBURG, JUNE 2011