October 26th 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 http://www.zabalaza.net
(Audio from the Dublin meeting will be online within the next week)