Before there was the Congress of South African Trade Unions, today’s COSATU, there was FOSATU. FOSATU was set up in 1979. There had been strikes and struggles in the 1970s, starting with a big strike wave in Namibia from 1971-1972, which was then a South African colony, then a big strike wave starting in Durban 1973, which spread around the country. Although we remember 1976 for the bravery of the youth and students, we must remember that the 1976 uprising also involved general strikes by the black working class, mass stay-aways.
And as the working class started to flex its muscles, and to organise new, independent unions, the need for unity was felt. In 1979, at Hammanskraal, FOSATU was set up. The flag of FOSATU was red, black and gold, with a hammer, a spanner and a spade. FOSATU grew quickly, despite repression by the apartheid state. Leaders and activists in FOSATU were banned, jailed; some, like Andries Raditsela, were murdered by police. There was continual intimidation, and employers would fire workers for going on strike or “agitating” at work. Unemployment is not just about money: unemployment is a weapon of the bosses, and this weapon was used many times against FOSATU.
We learnt that on October 25th, a large police operation called « Erebus » (Érebo in Portuguese, i.e. the name of the Greek god of darkness) was launched against the anti-authoritarian movement.
The civil police invaded at least 4 libertarian premises and claims to have warrants against a dozen of premises and about 30 people. They raided the occupation Pandorga and the Parrhesia premises as well as the political and cultural space Ateneu Libertário Batalha da Várzea that used to be FAG’s official premises. The Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (FAG) is specifically targeted by this operation as it is considered by the stupid-as-usual police to be the top organization of the anarchist movement in Porto Alegre. They are accused of forming a gang in order to commit crimes against public and private possessions.
Wave after wave of community protests have been taking place in South Africa. People are angry that after twenty years of so-called freedom they are still confined to living in shacks, having to defecate in communal toilets, and having essential services terminated when they can’t afford to pay.
by Philip Nyalungu
A sharp increase in fuel prices on Wednesday 6 September will hit the working class and poor hardest. The official reasons for the price hike are rising crude oil costs and the weak Rand. Government tax is also rising. Energy Minister Mamoloko Kubayi claims 4.6 cents a litre will go towards salary increases for petrol station workers.
The reality is rising prices get passed directly onto ordinary people by, for example, increases in taxi fares and food prices.
Note on adherence to international solidarity against the criminalization of poverty and protest in South Africa
The Brazilian Anarchist Coordination repudiates the cowardly criminalization of South African fighters and social fighters and their persecution.
In February 2015, four community members were sentenced to 16 years in prison for participating in a protest in their community. After a brief period of provisional release, two of the four militants were again sent to jail on June 19, 2017.
On February 6, 2016, Papi Tobias, the father of three children and a community leader struggling for housing and social rights in his community, disappeared as he went out to watch a football game at a bar. He was seen leaving a bar in the presence of the local police commander, Jan Scheepers. He is missing until today.
The South African ruling class has often used criminal laws and expeditions from the apartheid era to condemn the black and poor working class and criminalize the activities of militants and social fighters.
As in Brazil (Rafael Braga and many others cases), the ruling class in South Africa uses the justice system and its racist armed apparatus to promote the criminalization of poverty, protest and racism.
The continuity between state terrorism and its apparatuses continues regardless of the government it assumes, in South Africa or in Brazil!