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South African anarchist speaks in Cork

category cork | anti-capitalism | news report author Wednesday October 28, 2009 19:43author by Cathal - Workers Solidarity Movement, WSM Report this post to the editors

Yesterday evening the Cork branch of the Worker’s Solidarity Movement hosted a talk by South African anarchist and ZABALAZA Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) member, Jonathan. The ZACF is an organisation of anarchist individuals from South Africa who identify with the communist tradition within Anarchism. The front is organised around the principles of theoretical and tactical unity, collective responsibility and federalism. Their activities include study and theoretical development, anarchist agitation and propaganda, and participation within the class struggle.

As most of us know, the soccer world cup is going to be held in South Africa next summer. Hotels will be full and the elite will become even richer. For the poor of the country however, it means gentrification and large scale evictions. The ANC government that pretends to represent their interests sees them as an eye-sore that is bad for tourism. These actions may not tally with the radical rhetoric they used in the past – before they got power – however, the ANC rule using the IMF playbook, and South Africa’s working class suffers.

Jonathan started the talk with a quick history of the left in South Africa. I learned that the South African Communist Party (SACP) is aligned with the ANC (African National Congress, majority party in the country) despite its neo-liberal capitalist policies. Before apartheid this was justified by the party leadership with, what is to me, a very dubious Marxist stages theory. For stage one it was necessary to set up a bourgeois democracy; the struggle for a socialist revolution would come after. And 15 years after the start of bourgeois democracy, they still aren’t ready for stage two.

The present social struggles that Jonathan discussed include anti-privatisation campaigns, shack-dweller organising and direct action campaigns to reconnect people to electricity. We were told of the recent Kennedy Road incident, when a shack-dweller movement meeting was brutally attacked by armed men who killed 3 attendees. The police arrived the next day and arrested members of the social movement for murder. Jonathan said it seems fairly certain that the ANC were behind it. Other times, meetings of social groups are criminalised under apartheid-era legislation called the illegal gatherings act. For 15 people to meet up in South Africa permission must be obtained from the government.

Jonathan also talked about the relatively progressive 1994 South African constitution that made gay marriage and abortion guaranteed rights. However, this is under threat from the new homophobic, chauvinistic, right-wing, Zulu-nationalist president, Jacob Zuma. It is feared that if the ANC get a two thirds majority at the next election they will write these gains out of the constitution.

But many are beginning to see through the ANC’s “liberator” gloss and are organising. A recent victory occurred when, after a long non-payment and reconnection campaign, slum-dwellers had their debts to the electricity company cancelled.

The WSM would like to thank Jonathan for his very interesting talk and all those who attended.

More information about the ZACF can be found at www.zabalaza.net and about the WSM on www.wsm.ie

Photos to follow as soon as I get my head around some upload problems.

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie
author by Andrewpublication date Thu Nov 12, 2009 15:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This audio was recorded at the Dublin meeting the night before this Cork meeting. There are two seperate files, the first is a brief introduction to the WSM, the second is the recording of the introduction and the talk.

Audio 1: What is the WSM
A 3 minute introduction to the WSM by Alan

Audio 2: Social struggles in South Africa

The notes below are a very rough guide to what is being talked about, they are not a transcript and may skip over significant sections

Introduction - Johnny
Zabalaza formed 1st May 2003 from various organizations. After apartheid the ANC focused on courting big business and ignoring the needs of the working class.

Two points to the talk
1. Dispel illusions that exist around liberation
2. Drum up support for social struggles
Group of 30 or 40 armed men attacked Kennedy Road informal settlement and destroyed shacks of the Abahlali shack dwellers movement. Police refused to intervene. Gang of armed men attacked the meeting killing 3 with more dying later, a couple of attackers also killed. Next day the police arrested members of the KR development committee, 5-7 more arrested over the following days. All denied bail. Attack orchestrated by local members of ANC branch, it’s not known at what level the police were involved in the attack. The attacks recall the state sponsored terror of the 1980's.
To set the context I'm going to got back 100 years in radical South African history to the early syndicalist and anarchy syndicalist history if the 1880's. Established the first multi racial organizations like the Industrial Workers of Africa (modeled on the IWW). The first Community party formed in 1920 was extra parliamentary and internationalist, the first Moscow aligned CP set up following years. The CP aligned itself with the ANC and was bigger for a good number of years, the CP was following the two stage theory of national democratic revolution.
Mandela said in 56 that the aim of the ANC was to create a black bourgeoisie. During the 70's and 80's there was a massive escalation in workers and student militancy against apartheid, the ANC had virtually no influenced in these popular struggles of the black working class.
The unions through COSATU came to accept the two stages theory. Mass insurrections began in 1984 again with little ANC influence but this changed by the end of the 1990's as the ANC gained control of the United Democratic Front. Prior to this you had a huge and militant working class involved in strikes alongside the militant student and community movement.
The boom of the 1980's was based on the super exploitation of the black working class in mining but sanction mean it was losing access to international markets and there wasn't an internal market due to the super exploitation. This economic decline along with the insurrectionary workers movement led the white capitalist class to enter into negotiations leading to the end of apartheid.
Secret negotiations ran from the 1980's and by 1993 the ANC signed an agreement with the IMF leading to its election in 1994 in the first democratic election. Its economic policies were continuous with those of the old Botha regime. They had promised one million jobs but in the first ten years a million lost their jobs. The first big strike was in 1999 of municipal workers and the Anti-Privatization Forum was launched at Wits University. In 2001 the APF was a federation of community organizations, single issue social movement and campaigns fighting against privatization, evictions etc. There was a struggle against electricity cuts off as the state tried to collect outstanding bills from the apartheid issue bill strike. Battles were won but the campaigns went into decline afterwards. Another significant struggle was that against water meters.
State has tried to break backbone of New Social Movements by using apartheid era legislations against gatherings of more than 15 people. Part of the strategy is to break the social movements financially by making arrests and forcing them to raise lots of bail, activists have also been tear gassed in police cells. Police Community Forums are used to spy on social movement activists.
Zuma as elected this year, he is a conservative, openly homophobic Zulu nationalist. There have been attacks on immigrants and gays and lesbians and moves to sweep back progressive gains. Legitimate discontent is being re-directed against scapegoats leading to rampages against immigrants with 60 people being killed and 100's of thousands fleeing the country.
The Shack Dwellers Movement predicted that these attacks against immigrants would be followed by internal ethnic conflict which is what happened on Kennedy Road. They implemented a 10pm curfew on Sheeben's to avoid ethnic conflict.
For next years FIFA world cup the government is clearing the city centers of 'undesirables' as part of a program of gentrification, Abahlali were mobilizing against this which is part of the reason they were targeted. There is a grave danger to social movements and working class organization.
The recession has hit South Africa hard providing an excuse for Zuma's failure to deliver on his promises. Community based revolts and strikes have escalated in the last couple of months but they tend to challenge corrupt councilors rather than the economic policies.

A quick introduction to the WSM
audio A quick introduction to the WSM 2 Mb

Social struggles in South Africa
audio Social struggles in South Africa 19.62 Mb

author by Andrewpublication date Tue Nov 03, 2009 14:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Received this by email from the speaker

Update and follow-up on attempts to generate solidarity for Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Kennedy Road 13 during my recent speaking tour to the UK and Ireland:

Following a successful meeting convened by the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) we are working with social movements such as the Landless Peoples Movement (LPM) and Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) in Johannesburg to organise a protest march in solidarity with Abahlali. We will probably also be meeting with an Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) delegation this week.

Please disseminate the message below through your local networks and mailing lists, publish it on your local Indymedia and print it out and stick it up at the respective social centers which hosted my talks:

Friends and Comrades

The Kennedy Road 13 returned to the Durban Magistrate's Court on Monday 26 October to hear the verdict on their application for bail. The Kennedy 13 were not given bail and remain in Westville Prison. For more information see Still No Bail for the Kennedy Road 13 as the Attack on our Movement Continues

By means of an introduction and for an anarchist communist perspective on the events please see Kennedy Road Murders Recall Terror of the 1980s by the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front.

To donate solidarity funds to Abahlali baseMjondolo send money to:

Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement
Bank: First National Bank
Acc no: 62218884577
Branch: Umgeni Junction
Branch Code: 00200913
Swift Code: firnzajj759

Please mark payments for Abahlali baseMjondolo and be sure to read this before making a donation. If you are unsure or have any queries please contact Abahlali baseMjondolo directly or contact the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) and we will forward your queries to Abahlali. Find contact details for Abahlali and ZACF at the end of this email.
When making a donation please give "ZACF Tour" as a reference, so that Abahlali know this money is being donated in response to our solidarity efforts, and send an email notification to Abahlali baseMjondolo stating how much you have transferred. Please also copy the ZACF in this email notification.

You may state whether you would prefer Abahlali to use the money for humanitarian relief or legal defence, although we strongly recommend that Abahlali be left to decide this themselves.

Abahlali is still under attack and it is essential that we mobilse internationally to demand, amongst other things, the immediate release of the Kennedy Road 13.
Please send notification of any solidarity or support initiatives to Abahlali baseMjondolo and the ZACF as well as posting them, where relevant, on Anarkismo.net

For updates, press releases from Abahlali baseMjondolo, media coverage and solidarity statements on Kennedy Road see: http://abahlali.org/taxonomy/term/1525

Contact details for Abahlali baseMjondolo:

Email: abahlalibasemjondolo@telkomsa.net


Reverend Mavuso: 00 27 72 279 2634
Shamita Naidoo: 00 27 74 315 7962
Mama Nxumalo: 00 27 76 333 9386

Web: www.abahlali.org

Contact details for the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front:


Postnet Suite 47
Private Bag X1
South Africa




Jonathan: 00 27 84 946 4240

Web: www.zabalaza.net

It will, understandably, not be possible nor practical for everyone who would like to show support for Abahlali baseMjondolo to do so by means of donating money, organising or participating in solidarity actions and events or what have you. It is therefore imperative that we recognise that the attacks on Abahlali baseMjondolo and the popular classes of South Africa as a whole are part of a broader international attack on the working class and poor in light of a global economic crisis. As the profits of the boss class come increasingly under threat due to the partial collapse of an inherently unstable and crisis-prone economic and political system, the ruling class will seek to reduce wages and living standards, cut social spending and by any means necessary recover its lost profits - to the point where it will repress and violently attack popular resistance in defence of previously won gains or, as is the case in South Africa, sit back and allow the legitimate frustration of a working class betrayed be misdirected against convenient scapegoats.

One of the best things people can do then to show support for Abahlali baseMjondolo and the struggling people of South Africa, and the continent as a whole, is to intensify their activity and militancy in the local struggles in which they are engaged; be they in support of striking bin men and postal workers, against the closure of universities or cuts in social spending. By escalating our level of combativeness in response to an onslaught on our rights and dignity we the dispossessed, the marginalised, the poor and the indignant can send a resounding message of support to Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Kennedy Road 13 in which we declare, for all to hear, that as long as there is exploitation and oppression there will be working class resistance; that until all are free, no one is.

Let us remind ourselves then, in these times of crisis and reaction, what it means to be a revolutionary:

To be a revolutionary is to advocate a revolution. It is to point out that the state will not permit peaceful, gradual, legal, changes to a better social system. It is to WARN the people that when the economy gets worse, the capitalists will take back the reforms they have given in the past—as they have begun to do. At some point, when the capitalists feel threatened enough, they will whip up racist and sexual hysteria. They will abandon bourgeois democracy, cancel elections, organize fascist gangs, smash unions, murder leftists, and arrange a military coup. Working people need to prepare to defend ourselves, to strengthen unions, and to engage in general (city-wide) strikes. We need to popularize the idea of workers’ and community councils, for replacing the state, and of an armed working class, for replacing the specialized police and military.
(Price, http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=9513)

Yours for Freedom in Solidarity

Jonathan, ZACF

author by 21st Century Person.publication date Thu Oct 29, 2009 16:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"For stage one it was necessary to set up a bourgeois democracy; the struggle for a socialist revolution would come after. And 15 years after the start of bourgeois democracy, they still aren’t ready for stage two."

Do people REALLY believe this 19th century stuff in this day and age?

author by Nelsonpublication date Wed Oct 28, 2009 23:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Today's radical liberators become tomorrow's champagne socialists. The shantytowners on the other hand seek solace in illicit moonshine, sometimes called mampoer.

author by Cathal - WSM publication date Wed Oct 28, 2009 21:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here are the photos I promised.




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