The General Approach of Anarchists/Syndicalists to the United Front and NUMSA

b1028by Jakes Factoria and Tina Sizovuka (ZACF)

In this section we address questions that have been posed to ZACF militants. We are sharing these discussions because we think these are important and pertinent issues in Southern Africa. If you have questions you would us to address in our next issue, please get in touch!

In this column, comrade Themba Kotane, a union militant, asks:

Will the United Front (UF) address the crises we are currently facing in South Africa? I am concerned about how the UF works and who leads it. In my own view we don’t need a leader, we need to all have equal voice. How can we build the UF as a basis for a stateless, socialist, South Africa?

Jakes Factoria and Tina Sizovuka respond:

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SPEECH: Working Class Struggle, Blazing a Path to Freedom

FAU book graphic439 1Talk by Lucien van der Walt at 24 Sept 2012, Heritage Day event, Joza Township, Grahamstown

NOTE: Heritage Day is a post-apartheid South African national holiday; unlike most, it has no clear link to major struggles in the past, although there are efforts to position it as a more “political” day. The talk below was given by Lucien van der Walt at an event organised by Sakhaluntu Cultural Group in Grahamstown, for black youth.

Thank you all for coming. Thank you, chair, for the invitation. Thank you, organisers, for the event today. Today looks like a great day, a great day to look forward.

But before we look forward, we must look back as well. Unless you know where you come from, you will never know where you can go.

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For how long can South African elites keep misleading the people?

xenoby Philip Nyalungu*

Those in power don’t want to confront the status quo of hatred against immigrants, or South Africa’s imperialist role in the region. They have a narrow set of interests: getting votes, accumulating wealth and power. However, the recent wave of attacks on immigrants and the ruptures of relations with other African countries – especially where South African corporations are operating – have touched the most delicate nerves of the established political powers, who have vowed to advance corporate interests in making profits.

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Class Rule Must Fall! More Statues, More Working Class

by Leroy Maisiri*

Slogans like “Erase Rhodes”, “Rhodes so White,” and Rhodes must Fall,” emerging from student groups at South Africa’s elite universities, recently monopolised social media. These have taken off, because South Africa is in need of great structural change; 20 years after the important 1994 transition, many black people remain trapped in oppressive conditions.

No one would deny that during apartheid blacks, Coloureds and Indians were racially oppressed, abused, and as workers, exploited. If removing statues and changing place names can help solve the problems, and form part of a meaningful redress of past and present injustices, then such actions must be supported.

But can such demands really do so?

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Zabalaza #14 Editorial: Where to, South Africa? Anarchist-Communist Reflections

Zumaby Tina Zisovuka (ZACF)

In 2013, Zabalaza/ ZACF took a decision to redirect our energies into certain aspects of our work that we felt were more urgent and immediately important at the time, given the challenges and conditions we were facing. The bad news is that this decision took its toll on our publishing work, which partly explains the long gap (over two years) between issues of our journal. The good news is that this reorientation has paid off elsewhere: hiccups notwithstanding, over the past two years our militants have participated in various new initiatives in and around Johannesburg, where we have witnessed a renewed and growing interest in anarchism. The inclusion of several new names in this issue is a much-welcomed reflection of these changes.

Over the past two years, there have been many important developments that deserve special consideration. We have tried to include our own, anarchist, appraisals of these where possible, although in some respects we have fallen unavoidably short. It is precisely because South Africa’s burning social and national issues remain unresolved (in fact they cannot be resolved within the existing capitalist and political party systems established in 1910 and 1994), that the country continues to undergo social turbulence, seen in strikes, union splits, struggles over symbols, and sadly, anti-immigrant attacks.

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T.W. Thibedi and the Industrial Workers of Africa, April-July 1919

T.W. Thibedi and the Industrial Workers of Africa, April-July 1919by Lucien van der Walt

T.W. Thibedi, radical school-teacher, was a leading figure in the anarchist / syndicalist International Socialist League (ISL) and the revolutionary syndicalist Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA) union. He was involved in late 1910s struggles, like the March-April 1919 anti-pass law campaign on the Witwatersrand. The campaign had been driven by more radical members of the Transvaal ANC — including members of the revolutionary ISL and IWA, like Fred Cetiwe and Hamilton Kraai. But the campaign was called off by conservative leaders of the South African Native National Congress (now the African National Congress, ANC).

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Linking Environment Activism and Other Struggles: An Anarchist Analysis

by Warren McGregor (ZACF)


Linking Environment Activism and Other StrugglesMovements for ecological awareness and protection, such as those against climate change, are making important contributions to social understanding regarding the effects of industrial production and consumption. However, many arguments and analyses against ecological destruction and for environmental protection are seemingly not based on a class analysis and not informed by the lives of working class people. Thus many of these analyses do not question the systems of domination that lie at the root of social inequality and ecological devastation: capitalism and the nation state.

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BLACK STARS OF ANARCHISM: T.W. Thibedi (1888-1960): The Life of a South African Revolutionary Syndicalist

by Lucien van der Walt

Black Stars of Anarchism: T.W. ThibediThe son of a Wesleyan minister, Thibedi William Thibedi was one of the most important black African revolutionary syndicalists in South African history. Thibedi was a leading figure in the International Socialist League (ISL) and in the Industrial Workers of Africa syndicalist union. Later he played an important role in the early Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), particularly its union work. He was active in all of the key black unions from the 1910s to the 1940s.

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BOOK REVIEW: My Dream is to be Bold: Our Work to End Patriarchy

Reviewed by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)

Book Review: My Dream is to be BoldPublished in 2011 by Pambazuka Press, My Dream is to be Bold: Our Work to End Patriarchy is the welcome result of the work of Feminist Alternatives (FemAL), “a group of feminist activists in South Africa working against sexism and oppression”. The book provides insight into the lives, struggles and ideas of nineteen feminist activists based in South Africa, who organised “to come together over two days and reflect on women’s organising in the context of a patriarchal, neoliberal social and world order”. The book itself is a collection of writings by the nineteen activists, developed during a publication workshop held in Cape Town in June of 2009. The workshop, organised by FemAL, sought “to build collective analysis through speaking to other women, comparing experience, collectively trying to understand that experience and theorise it”.

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Egypt: the Lost Transition and the Libertarian Alternatives

by Yasser Abdullah *

Introduction [ZACF]

Egypt: the Lost Transition and the Libertarian AlternativesBeginning in December 2010, a series of uprisings in Arab countries brought hope to workers and the poor – not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. Dictators have been toppled in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and struggles continue throughout the region.

For anarchists the question has always been: will the struggles stop with overthrowing dictators, an important victory but one that cannot end oppression? Or will it go further? Can a mass movement continue the struggle until imperialism, exploitation, capitalism and the state itself are finally destroyed?

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