Anarchist Voices from South Africa

Collected articles and documents from the South African Anarchist movement

Trade Unions Anarchist history Articles in Zulu Neo-liberalism women's oppression Racism & apartheid South Africa since Apartheid Anarchist ideas Lesotho& Swaziland

Class Struggle in the Trade Unions
Trade Unions and Revolution - Bikisha media pamphlet
It is necessary to never forget that if trade unionism does not find in libertarian communist theory a support in opportune times it will turn, whether we like it or not, to the ideology of a political statist party.

One Big Union! South Africa's New Giants of Labour - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999
Unless the entire membership has direct control over the mega-union, instead of it being controlled by its own elite class of paid bureaucrats, it will never be an effective fighting force for the members and the working class as a whole

Mega unions: What does it mean for socialism? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999

Strikewave! : SA Labour Flexes its Muscles - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999
1998 was a record-breaking year for strike activity in South Africa, and this year looks set to be even more active on the militant labour front. More than 3-million person-days - the highest figure since the 1994 elections - were lost to capitalist exploitation last year.

Victory! BTR-Sarmcol - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999
On May Day 1985, workers at the BTR-Sarmcol rubber embarked on a wildcat strike. The following day, the bosses fired all 970 strikers. Since 1985, 39 people have been killed in fighting related to the dismissals.

Reclaim Our Unions!! : No! to the "checkoff" - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999
The checkoff system is the system where the bosses act as bankers for the union by taking union fees out of our wages and handing them over to the union.

Your Boss Is A Killer!! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999
3 people a day die in work-related accidents

Unions must organise the unemployed - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
30% of all economically active people in South Africa are unemployed.

Union investment arms: A disaster in waiting - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
Unions were not designed for profit-making but to protect the workers from greedy bosses

Editorial: Unite the Workers' Struggle! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
We need to unite the workers struggles in our region. We need to mobilise our unions in solidarity with each other, resisting the bosses' onslaught.

COSATU accuses! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The key motive for Apartheid was the "perpetuation of a super-exploitative cheap labour system"

Mass retrenchments by Mzi Khumalo's JCI - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
More than 4,100 workers face retrenchments at the hands of JCI

Defend COMSA union at UDW - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The Combined Staff Association at the University of Durban-Westville is under attack. COMSA is a militant independent union that organises 70% of workers and staff at UDW

Explosive union growth in Southern Africa - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
Trade unions in South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe are among the fastest growing in the world

Workers organise general strikes for decent working conditions - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
Millions of workers' supported COSATU's call for a week of rolling mass action starting August 18 to demand changes to the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill

Defend, consolidate,advance! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
2,300 worker delegates attended the Congress of SA Trade Unions 6th National Congress in September 1997.

SA dockers join international day of action - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
In South Africa, thousands of workers attended a mass rally in Durban, and there was a national day of port action in support of dockers' struggles in Australia and Liverpool.

COSATU on the move - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
10,000 workers joined a Congress of South African Trade Unions rally in Johannesburg on March 25

Are Employed Workers and Unions an "Elite" ? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997

Looking Back: The 1995 Municipal Workers Strike - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1996

Revolutionary Trade Unionism: The road to workers freedom Workers Solidarity Federation booklet

No solidarity with Police strikers! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1995

The Trade Unions Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper


See also the: South African Anarchist History Page

Anarchism & women's oppression
Fighting for women's freedom - Bikisha media pamphlet
Anarchists recognise that women are specially oppressed as a sex (they face oppression as women as well as due to their class position). We call this oppression sexism. As Anarchists we oppose this oppression on principle and in practice.

What causes women's oppression? Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The root of women's oppression lies in the division of society into classes. Women's oppression is in the direct interest of capitalism and the State

How can we organise to end women's oppression? Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
We fight against women's oppression. We fight for workers unity. An injury to one is an injury to all. Only through libertarian socialism can women be truly freed, as the causes of women's oppression will be removed

A history of fighting for women's freedom - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The libertarian socialist movement long fought against women's oppression. And many prominent figures in the women's movement were anarchists

Women in The Spanish Revolution - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

Women's Liberation and Anarchism: A Complementary Partnership - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

Working and Poor Women Unite Against Oppression - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

Women's freedom Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper


Lesotho & Swaziland
Lesotho : Was it revolution? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
Was the mutiny by rebel soldiers in the Lesotho Defence Force in the week before the invasion actually a class war in defence of democracy?

Swaziland: phambili basebenzi! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The pro-democracy movement has lead to open street battles between demonstrators and the Royal Swazi Police, to detention and beating of unionists and human rights activists, to a media blackout, to brave acts of sabotage and to two successful general strikes this year!

Swaziland: general strike for democracy - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
On March 2, the 83,000-strong Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) ended an incredible 28 day general strike after the government released four imprisoned union leaders

Swazi Unions Demand Democracy - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1996
In 1994 the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) called a two day general strike for the 21- 22 of February. More than 10,000 workers participated. The Swazi economy was paralysed.


Anarchist Ideas & Theory
Class Struggle, Capitalism & the state - Bikisha media pamphlet
Anarchists believe in a revolution by the workers and the poor to establish libertarian and stateless Socialism.

Libertarian Socialism and Workers Control - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
We fight for the day when the millions of strong workers march with fists upraised towards the revolution, united in our unions, and ready to meet force with force

What we believe - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
Society is divided into two main groups- the working class and the tiny ruling class. The two classes are locked in a class war

Why do we oppose capitalism and the state - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
We oppose capitalism and the State because they are tools used by the ruling class of bosses, military leaders and top government officials to exploit and rule the rest of us

Why class struggle and revolution from below? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
Successful class struggle requires the mobilisation of as many people and strata of the working class as possible

After the collapse of Marxism: Is there an alternative to capitalism today? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
Key elements of the socialist tradition are in irrevocable crisis. What we need to do is to reclaim and identify with the tradition of anti-authoritarian, anti-State, socialism from below

Stealing from the poor - "Free Market" policies = Bosses' tool - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1997

What anarcho-syndicalists believe: Breaking imperialism's chains - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1997

Why I Am An Anarchist - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

What Anarchist Syndicalists Believe: Unions and Revolution - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

What is Anarcho-Syndicalism? Workers Solidarity Federation Pamphlet
A pamphlet that explains anarchist history and our politics.

What's "Left"? Talk by WSF Wits branch, August 1996
Is there an alternative to capitalism today.

Anarchism today - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1995

The revolutionary anarchist tradition - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1995

Marxism, Freedom and the State - A Review - Freedom Magazine, Durban wsf
Marx and Bakunin were both members of "The International", but how far apart do they stand?

So what is "CLASS" anyway? - Freedom Magazine, Durban wsf
For those people who don't understand what we mean by "class", and for those who have been misled by people who want you to think that they are on your side, to get you to trust and follow them, we give this basic outline of what we mean by "class".

Why the Black flag? - Freedom Magazine, Durban wsf
The black flag is the symbol of anarchism. It evokes reactions ranging from horror to delight. Find out what it means and prepare to see it at more and more public gatherings.

Defining the WSF, anarchism and syndicalism Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

Class struggle, capitalism and the state Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

The environment Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

Gay rights Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

The student movement Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

Seperate organisations? Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

The violence question Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

The nature of the Soviet bloc Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

The role of the revolutionary organisation in the class struggle Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

Building an Anarcho-syndicalist international Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

Aims and Principles of the Workers Solidarity Federation


Articles in Zulu

Phansi GEAR Phansi! - Zabalaza Magazine, April 2001
Mumso oke fokotse tshebediso ya tjhelete. Gear e re mmuso o sebedisa tjhelete e ngata mme e tshwanela ho fokotsa batho ba sebeletsang mmuso, hore o tle o kgone ho lefella dithoto bophelo bobotle le ditshebeletso tsa setjhaba

Yini i-Anarcho-Syndicalism? - Zabalaza Books Translation, August 2001

I-Syndicalism uhlelo oluzama ukwehluka kunezihlelo ezejwayelekile zokuphatha nemibuso, ngamanye amazwi i-capitalism nohhulumeni.

Umhlaba onenkululeko kuncike ezinguqukweni zabezinyunyuna zohwebo - Workers Solidarity Federation pamphlet
Land and Freedom through Revolutionary Unionism Umzabalazo wabasebenzi abamnyama e-S.A. ngumzabalazo ophikisananobugqili kuhlangene nohlelo lwe-capitalism. I-capitalism uhlelolwaleyongcosana ebusayo.

Omame Abangabasenzi Nabampofu - Workers Solidarity Federation statement
[WSF statement on women's rights -Zulu] Omame Abangabasenzi Nabampofu MABAHLANGANE UKULWA NENGCINDEZELO

Ubuhlobo Obunobudlel wane phakathi kwabantu Freedom magazine (Durban WSF)
Sikholelwa ukuthi inkululeko yomuntu ibalulekile ngaphambi kokubasibe nokuthula.


Racism and the shadow of apartheid
Against the WCAR fraud - Bikisha media & the Anarchist Union statement
The UN World conference against Racism (WCAR) was held in August 2001 in Durban South Africa. This critique was Produced by the Anarchist Union and Bikisha Media Collective - 2 South African Anarchist groups

Fighting and Defeating Racism - Bikisha media pamphlet
What do we mean by respect for humanity? We mean the recognition of human right and human dignity in every man, of whatever race [or] colour...

The struggle for the land - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
The real violence on the land is not criminal attacks on farmers- it is the farmers' exploitation and oppression of workers and labour tenants.

Right wing 'social movements for unemployed' - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
These movements are opposed to the organised working class

Every worker must condemn attacks on foreigners - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
A march by the "Unemployed Masses of South Africa" murdered three immigrants

Race, class and organisation: WSF - published in Black Flag, 1998 (Britain)

Racism: Where it comes from, How we should fight it?: WSF - published in Red & Black Revolution, 1998 (Ireland)

The ANC and the South African White Right in Mozambique - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The Mosagrius agreement between President Nelson Mandela and Mozambique's President Joaquin Chissano has opened the door for the white right to exploit Mozambican peasants

Do immigrants cause crime? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
Although the media and the police paint immigrants as evil criminals, the facts show that immigrants are hardly ever involved in crime

Editorial - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996
The land question is a burning issue relevant to millions of poor and working- class Black people. We say: don't wait for the government! The poor must seize the land.

Solidarity With Immigrants - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996
Last year alone 157,084 people were deported from South Africa. These people lost their homes, their jobs, their belongings. Families were split up.

The Poor Must Take Back The Land - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996
The land question will be the site of massive struggle in the future. Since 1652, the colonial and apartheid governments have dispossessed the indigenous people of the land in favour of rich white farmers.

Understanding and Defeating Racism - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996
Racism developed alongside capitalism and the modern State since these emerged 500 years ago. It justified the conquest, slaughter and enslavement of indigenous people in the Americas, Asia and Africa

Anarchist Anti- Racism in Action - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996
The theorist- activist founders of Anarchist Syndicalism were anti- racist revolutionaries.

Farrakhan: No Solution for Black Workers and Poor Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996


Fighting racism Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

SA Police: to serve and protect ...to torture and kill Revolt Magazine, 1992
The South African police continue to assault, torture and kill people in custody. The brutal death of Simon Mthimkulu in July [1992] is one example amongst many.

The Violence: The State's BloodyHands Revolt Magazine, 1992
More people are dying in Apartheid's fall than at its height. The cause of the violence is not "tribalism" but a destabilisation campaign by the State and its Inkatha ally. The solution is not, however, a new government...


Neo-liberalism and Imperialism

Bikisha statement on anti-privatisation - Bikisha media collective
Evict the bosses and politicians - Stop Privatisation Now

Statement on the World Trade Centre Bombing - Endorsed by Bikisha media collective and the Anarchist Union
against capitalism - Against the US government - Against state and fundamentalist terrorism

Fix it or Nix it? - the anti-globalisation movement - SA Labour Bulletin, volume 25, number 5, 2001
Analysis on the reformist and revolutionary wings of the anti-globalisation movement by South African anarchist and researcher Lucien Van der Walt

Anti-Imperialism and National Liberation - Bikisha media pamphlet

Class struggles in South Africa: from apartheid to neo-liberalism: - The Bikisha Media Collective input for the international anarcho-syndicalist congress in Gothenburg, Sweden, June 2001
The South African working class is on the retreat. It is not defeated, but is falling back in the face of a major neo-liberal offensive by the democratic government elected in 1994.

The neo-liberal agenda: GEAR versus the working class Zabalaza Magazine, April 2001
Underlying the government's drive to privatise is the neo-liberal GEAR programme. This is a macro-economic policy adopted by the government in mid-1996.

Your Money or Your Life - The World Bank, IMF, and neo-imperialism Zabalaza Magazine, April 2001
If you've ever owed money to a bank, you'll know it's not a pleasant experience. Depending on whether they think you're good for the money, the bank will either screw you in the short term or milk you dry over the long term. Banks are in the business of making money and generally they'll stop at nothing to get their way.

Fight Privatisation! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, May 1999
In South Africa, the South African Municipal Workers Public sector unions are the key to fighting ANC's privatisation plans. This requires trade union independence.

Why workers should fight GEAR Talk given by WSF, Cape Town April 1999

Why we say Asifune GEAR - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
In June 1996, the ANC-led government adopted the Growth, Employment and Redistribution

The Non-Aligned movement and mass murder in the Third world - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
The NAM summit saw South Africa trying to play a leading role in sub-Saharan Africa as a regional power-broker

SADC : No friend of the working class - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
SADC has intervened militarily in both Congo and Lesotho. SADC is a regional coalition of governments

The recolonisation of Africa and the future of the left - Talk given by comrade of WSF at University of Zambia, Lusaka, August 1998

Mobilise against job losses - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
Jobs in the manufacturing sector fell by almost 4% since June last year despite growth in manufacturing output this year

Governements new economic stratergy: - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1997
"Employment and redistribution" - or a kick in the teeth?

Higher education - Government cuts exclude the poor - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1997

IMF and World Bank: Get out of Africa! - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1997

International War Against the Poor - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

No to Privatisation! Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996

Anti-Imperialism Workers Solidarity Federation Position Paper

1992: New World Order in Africa - Revolt Magazine 1992
The New World Order is on our doorstep with the US imperialists setting themselves up in Botswana and Zambia.Washington, following the end of the Cold War, is placing renewed emphasis on projecting itself into Third World "flashpoints."


What happened to the promised changes?
Post Apartheid Politics in South African.
The South African AIDS Question Zabalaza Magazine, April 2001
The position that AIDS is a disease of poverty cannot be disputed. Like with everything in life, the capitalist class, using the wealth it has expropriated has a monopoly on unlimited access to condoms, medication and better knowledge of the disease.

ANC's 1999 budget makes the bosses smile - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1999
A number of progressive organisations have claimed that the 1999 budget was a "people's budget". Nothing could be further from the truth. Delivered in Cape Town on the 17 February, the ANC's budget made the bosses jump for joy.

Voting is your right but have no illusions in parliament - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1999
It is better to live under a democratic government than under the apartheid government. But we must have no illusions in the parliamentary system

EDITORIAL: South Africa's transition goes sour Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
In 1994, people danced in the streets after the results of the elections were announced. How far have we come in the five years since that time?

The Alliance: An unhappy marriage - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
At the heart of current problems within the Tripartite Alliance (ANC, SA Communist Party, COSATU) is a central fault line-GEAR

Will low wages create more jobs? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The bosses and the government say that low wages will lead to more jobs

Parliament is a rotten system - the union is your party - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
Parliament is not now, nor will it ever be, a road to workers freedom

Focus: Unemployment crisis - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 4th quarter 1998
South Africa is in the midst of an unemployment crisis unprecedented in its history

Peter Mokaba attacks socialism - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
We expect anti-socialist talk from racist bosses who lived off our sweat and blood under the apartheid regime. But it is still a shock to hear the same nonsense from the mouth of a comrade who fought in the struggle

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The Basic Conditions of Employment Bill was passed as an Act of Parliament on 7 November

Growing dissatisfaction with ANC government Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
An HSRC survey has found widespread dissatisfaction with the ANC-lead government.

PAC leader says "ban the trade unions" - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 1st quarter 1998
The PAC is sometimes seen as a radical alternative to ANC

South Africa after Apartheid: WSF - published in Le Monde Libertaire, 1997 (France)

After Apartheid: Anarchism and the 'new' South Africa WSF - published in Red & Black Revolution, 1997 (Ireland)

Has the ANC sold out? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
Since taking office, the African National Congress has broken key promises to the Black working class and poor who elected it.

Low pay in South Africa - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
100 years ago our comrades were murdered for fighting for workers power. But the evils they resisted then are still alive today

Bengu tricks students - Workers Solidarity Magazine, 2nd quarter 1997
1997 has been rocked by country- wide student protest- against racism, exclusion of the poor, and the government's plans to drastically cut subsidies to the universities and technikons

Struggle for Free and Democratic Education Continues Workers Solidarity Magazine, 3rd quarter 1996
During the first 6 months of this year we have seen students from all over the country take up the battle against their administrations

1994 elections: A massive advance for the struggle in South Africa Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1995

The student struggle - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1995

Boycott the elections - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1995

Winnie's dismissal: An attack on struggle? - Workers Solidarity Magazine, June 1995

This page is part of the struggle collection