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Johannesburg, Anarchist arrested in Motsoledi

category southern africa | community struggles | news report author Wednesday September 28, 2005 20:41author by via A-Infos Report this post to the editors

An anarchist member of the Sowetan Motsoledi Concerned Residents Association (MCRA) was arrested 2 weeks ago following an open discussion with a local ward councillor.

Johannesburg, Anarchist arrested in Motsoledi

An anarchist member of the Sowetan Motsoledi Concerned Residents Association (MCRA) was arrested 2 weeks ago following an open discussion with a local ward councillor.

The member confronted the councillor about lack of amenities and was accused by other members of the MCRA of being an instigator. He was then arrested on charges of threatening a councillor. The Association then went on to tell the community that anarchism was now illegal in South Africa and that anarchists in the community should be treated as dangerous subversives. The member was released the following day and all charges were dropped.

Ironically, the same member was one of the founders of the MCRA: in 2002 an anarchist group calling themselves the Black Action Group, frustrated by empty promises of housing and services made by the ANC in 1994, opened a library & free space and started a sustainable food garden as a means of coping with poverty and educating the community. The project hit setbacks from the start as members of the ANC accused the group of subverting the community and challenging the authority of the post-apartheid government. Anarchists and activists were threatened and the garden was abandoned. Members continued to organise by running the library and working together with Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation to establish a community forum.

The MCRA was founded early in 2005 and hit similar setbacks, but by August it was well established and had a core committee of about 30 activists (about 4 of whom were anarchists or non-authoritarians) from the community, with a view to bringing about real solutions to the township’s problems. However, some members of the MCRA still insisted that local government, and in particular the ANC, had a place in Motsoledi, while the anarchist members argued that experience has shown that voting changes nothing and it was up to the community to help itself. Following the arrest, all anarchist members have left the MCRA and are now rebuilding the food garden and expanding the library with a view to educating the community on self-sustainability.

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author by michael - zabalaza anarchist communist federationpublication date Wed Sep 28, 2005 20:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i'm actually not sure who posted this report to a-infos (i think it was our federation secretary), but it is essentially correct, except the shantytown/favela is spelled "motsoaledi" - ironically after an anc struggle hero.

also, our regional organiser still faces charges, but i'm not sure if it will ever get to court. we did not respond publicly to the arrest because, unless it gets to court - or unless such tactics become common (as has happened with the anti-eviction campaign organisation in the western cape), there is no point us worrying about it.

the context was the dispute between the anarchist/"no services - no vote" faction in motsoaledi and the opportunist / elect our "own" councillor faction. in the event, our regional organiser was released by the police *because* voter-registration on september 3 for local govt elections next year was so poor - and they thought that people were staying away because he was detained - but in fact they were staying away because by far the bunk of the community agreed with the no services - no vote faction.

so because there was very low voter registration - the trotskysists (who hope against hope to win the neigbouring phiri ward) and anc opportunists (who dominate soweto) won't be able to take motsoaledi to the polls next year! a hard-won victory for us, though the war is far from over.

michael (international secretary, zabalaza anarchist communist federation, southern africa)

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