Labour history Group (1984), “Organising at the Cape Town Docks”

This 1984 text, Organising at the Cape Town Docks, is notable for its discussion of the revolutionary syndicalist Industrial Workers of Africa in Cape Town from the late 1910s, and its links to the rise of the massive Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (ICU). The ICU was influenced by syndicalism (among other things). Get the PDF here. A Xhosa translation, Abasebenzi Basedokisini Ekapa, can … Continue reading Labour history Group (1984), “Organising at the Cape Town Docks”

Labour History Group, 1984, “Abasebenzi Basedokisini Ekapa” (Xhosa translation of “Organising at the Cape Town Docks”)

The “Labour History Group” based in Cape Town issued a series of pamphlets on the history of the working class in South Africa — more precisely, on some notable events in trade union history. For more on this group and its context, see here. This particular pamphlet, entitled Abasebenzi Basedokisini Ekapa is a Xhosa translation of Organising at the Cape Town Docks, which you can … Continue reading Labour History Group, 1984, “Abasebenzi Basedokisini Ekapa” (Xhosa translation of “Organising at the Cape Town Docks”)

A. Lerumo, 1971, “Kadalie of the ICU” – ‘African Communist’ no. 44

Reference: A. Lerumo, 1971, “Kadalie of the ICU,” African Communist number 44.  Get the PDF here. This piece is a lengthy, insightful review of My Life and the ICU, the posthumously published autobiography of Clements Kadalie (1896-1951). Kadalie, a Malawian immigrant and ex-school teacher, was a leading figure in the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (ICU). Founded in 1919, the ICU spread like … Continue reading A. Lerumo, 1971, “Kadalie of the ICU” – ‘African Communist’ no. 44

Profiles: Ousi Lawrence Zitha, 1969-2013, South Africa, TAAC

Ousi Lawrence Zitha came from Kliptown,Soweto. A factory worker much of his life, he lost his job in 2006, and became involved in anarchist political schools/ Red and Black Forums, and joined ZACF-linked Tokologo African Anarchist Collective (TAAC). The following appeared as Nobuhle Dube, 2014, “Obituary of Ousi Lawrence Zitha,” Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective, number 3, p. 3. (You can get … Continue reading Profiles: Ousi Lawrence Zitha, 1969-2013, South Africa, TAAC

Interviews: ZACF Interviews Two Libertarian Socialist Activists from Zimbabwe, 2008

From here

A member of the ZACF poses the same set of questions to two activists from Zimbabwe.

The first interviewee, Biko Mutsaurwa, is an anarcho-communist from the Uhuru Network and facilitator for the Toyi Toyi Artz Kollektive in Harare.

The second interviewee is Comrade Fatso, AKA Samm Farai Monro, a cultural activist and artistic facilitator for Magamba! The Cultural Activist Network.

The interviews were conducted in Johannesburg on 21st of June, 2008 – the day before MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced his decision to not participate in the June 27 presidential election run-off.


Interview with Biko Mutsaurwa, anarcho-communist from the Uhuru Network and facilitator for the Toyi Toyi Artz Kollektive. Conducted in Johannesburg on 21st June 2008 by the ZACF.

ZACF: Have you heard about the regime’s alleged 3-stage election scheme (“electoral cleansing”, falsify the vote, declare a state of emergency)?

Biko: About the regimes intentions to outrightly rig the Zimbabwe electoral outcome I could say that i am convinced merely from watching the regimes reactions to the 29th March elections results that Mugabe has refused to accept that he was defeated in that election. The state media has continued to propagate the myths that there was no election winner. So I’m clear that their intention was to rig the election. With regards to how the regime is actually intent on cleansing after the elections, decimating the middle lay of activists within the Movement for Democratic Change I could say that I have second hand information, actually I got it from my mother who was forced-marched to a ZANU PF rally this Wednesday, 18th June 2008 where war veterans from the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association addressed that rally and they came to say that they were not there to campaign but they were there to inform the people that ZANU PF was not going to accept the electoral victory of MDC and also that they were going to come back to beat up the residents of Chitungwiza, where I stay with my family, primarily because Chitungwiza has been traditionally voting for the MDC.

ZACF: Can you tell us something about conditions on the ground in Zimbabwe, the extent of repression etc.. We’d like to hear about something else other than the repeated arrests of Tsvangirai & other MDC big-shots.

Biko: The arrests of senior MDC leaders comes in the wake of ZANU PF’s realisation that this time around the MDC leadership is prepared to call upon the masses of Zimbabwe to rise up and defend their vote using peoples power.The specific incident that gave rise to this awakening in terms of ZANU PF’s Continue reading “Interviews: ZACF Interviews Two Libertarian Socialist Activists from Zimbabwe, 2008”

Interview: Lekhetho Mtetwa, 2013, on Soweto anarchism, Landless Peoples Movement (LPM)

A 2013 interview with Lekhetho Mtetwa of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF), focused on his work in the Landless Peoples Movement (LPM), a post-apartheid social movement. The name notwithstanding, the LPM was mainly involved in urban squatter communities, not amongst farm-dwellers and farm-workers. Full reference details are included in the PDF. Get the PDF here. Continue reading Interview: Lekhetho Mtetwa, 2013, on Soweto anarchism, Landless Peoples Movement (LPM)

Interview: Lucien van der Walt, 2010, on Johannesburg anarchism, Wits 2001, NEHAWU, Anti-Privatisation Forum

Interview from the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) archives,  created by Dale McKinley, held at the South African History Archive (SAHA), at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. In this interview Lucien van der Walt talks about his background, the anarchist and left movement in Johannesburg in the 1990s and 2000s, and experiences in the APF, a major coalition of post-apartheid movements founded in 2000. He also draws some lessons … Continue reading Interview: Lucien van der Walt, 2010, on Johannesburg anarchism, Wits 2001, NEHAWU, Anti-Privatisation Forum

New Nation (1990): “South African Working Class Organisation and the Downfall of the Smuts Government”

New Nation, 1990, “South African working class organisation and the downfall of the Smuts government,” 10-16 August, Matric History section of Learning Nation supplement. A discussion of the struggles of the working class movement from 1920-1924 which examines the role of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) from 1919, the 1920 Bulhoek Massacre, and the 1922 Rand Revolt in the fall of the Jan … Continue reading New Nation (1990): “South African Working Class Organisation and the Downfall of the Smuts Government”

Biography: Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Thibedi, Thibedi William (1888–1960), South African revolutionary syndicalist and Communist,” in DAB

Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Thibedi, Thibedi William (1888–1960), South African revolutionary syndicalist and Communist,” in Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press. Get the PDF here. Continue reading Biography: Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Thibedi, Thibedi William (1888–1960), South African revolutionary syndicalist and Communist,” in DAB

Biography: Noor Nieftagodien, 2011, “Clements Kadalie,” in DAB

Noor Nieftagodien, 2011, “Clements Kadalie,” in Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press. Get the PDF here. Continue reading Biography: Noor Nieftagodien, 2011, “Clements Kadalie,” in DAB

[Archived webpage]: The Workers’ Library and Museum (Johannesburg)

Previous posts have looked at the Workers’ Library and Museum (WLM) in Newtown, Johannesburg, and mentioned the role of anarchists (mainly, Bikisha Media Collective) in it from the late 1990s into the early 2000s: see here. The WLM webpage from those days is long gone, but happily, there is a navigable snapshot of it here (off-site).     Continue reading [Archived webpage]: The Workers’ Library and Museum (Johannesburg)

VIDEO: The Newtown power complex before the Workers Library and Museum

There is an interesting video, captured from a VHS, from a report on the TV station M-Net, on the Newtown power complex in what looks like the late 1980s. The Newtown power complex, in downtown Johannesburg, was the site of the old municipal power station. It was all but abandoned by the late 1980s: the state of the building attests to this, and so does … Continue reading VIDEO: The Newtown power complex before the Workers Library and Museum