At the end of October a visiting speaker from the South Africa ZACF was hosted by the WSM in Dublin and Cork. The audio of the Dublin talk will be found below. The opening section of the talk looks at the very recent repression of the shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo at the Kennedy road informal settlement. Several people were killed and over 1000 displaced when an ANC led gang targetted the settlement and a meeting that was in progess there.
The rough notesbelow will give you some idea of the areas covered in the audio file., it includes a quite detailed history of the South African left and its relationship with the anti-apartheid struggle.
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.
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