Southern African Anarchist-Communist Federation Founded

Posted: June 3, 2010 in 7. Recent Writings

by Michael Schmidt, ZACF

The revolutionary anarchist movement in southern Africa is pleased to announce the founding of a regional anarchist federation, uniting the Bikisha Media Collective (BMC), Zabalaza Books (ZB) and the Zabalaza Action Group (ZAG) – which are collectively members of the International Libertarian Solidarity (ILS) anarchist network – as well as the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) and a range of individual anarchist militants.

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation, which will operate under an interim skeleton constitution, the relevant portions of which are reproduced below, until a full Congress is held before the end of the year, effectively has an operational presence in the cities and townships of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and an active involvement in the 200,000-strong United Social Movements (USM) in these centres.

We will be electing an acting international secretary and an acting regional secretary as well as a working group to draw up a draft final constitution. Our website will soon be updated to reflect our new identity. The ZACF as a whole from now on will be the first, but hopefully not the last, ILS member in the region. We wish to thank fellow ILS members Rebel (Auca) of Argentina and the Gaucha Anarchist Federation (FAG) of Brazil in particular, as well as the Workers’ Solidarity Movement (WSM) of Ireland, for their inspiring contribution towards our theoretical orientation, some of which will be obvious from our statement of Principles.

red & black regards,
Michael Schmidt
(ZACF, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF),
Southern Africa: Interim Skeleton Constitution

Adopted at the ZACF launch in Johannesburg, South Africa, on May Day 2003.

May Day is marked by the working class, peasantry and poor world-wide in honour of the anarchist martyrs of Chicago, 1886, and this year, 2003, marks a century of armed revolutionary anarchism since the Macedonian Revolt of 1903, and the 30th anniversary of the 1973 Durban Strikes which initiated the popular insurrection which eventually overthrew the apartheid regime.


By Anarchism we mean:

“society organised without authority, meaning by authority the power to impose one’s own will… authority not only is not necessary for social organisation but, far from benefiting it, lives on it parasitically, hampers its development, and uses its advantages for the special benefit of a particular class which exploits and oppresses the others.”

Errico Malatesta,
l’Agitazione June 4, 1897

And by Communism we mean:

“a society without money, without a state, without property and without social classes. People come together to carry out a project or to respond to some need of the human community but without the possibility of their collective activity taking the form of an enterprise that involves wages and the exchange of its products. The circulation of goods is not accomplished by means of exchange: quite the contrary, the by-word for this society is ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’.”

John Gray,
For Communism
(libertarian communist website)


1) NAME: The name of the federation is the ZABALAZA ANARCHIST COMMUNIST FEDERATION (ZACF), “zabalaza” being a proud indigenous word meaning “struggle” in Zulu and Xhosa. The short name of the ZACF is the Federation.

2) PRINCIPLES: The ZACF is founded on revolutionary anarchist-communist principles. This means:

a) internally, direct democracy, recallable, mandated and rotatable delegates, real, functional equality among members, and horizontal federalism among all its structures;

b) externally, a commitment to workers’ self-management and direct action, and to libertarian revolutionary anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-sexism and anti-statism. The Federation’s involvement with the progressive and radical social movements is non-sectarian, but steeped in these principles;

c) globally, the ZACF bases itself on the proud fighting tradition of some 155 years of mass anarchist militancy, starting with the Pan-European Revolt of 1848 and stretching across Africa, Latin America, Asia, Australia, North America and Europe. The Federation stands on the internationalist libertarian federal tradition of the First International, on the autonomist councilism of the Parisian and Macedonian Communes and of the Russian, Ukrainian and German Soviets, on the mass-based anarcho-syndicalist tradition of the International Workers’ Association, and on the armed anarchist insurrectionary tradition of the Mexican, Russian, Ukrainian, Manchurian, Spanish and Cuban Revolutions. These traditions continue today in the International Libertarian Solidarity network and in the anarchist-influenced global mass anti-capitalist struggles of the new millennium, the ultimate aim of which is an Internationalist Social Revolution;

d) regionally, the Federation recalls the revolutionary syndicalist tradition of the Industrial Workers of the World’s South African section, founded in 1910, of the International Socialist League, founded in 1915, of the Industrial Workers of Africa, founded in 1917, of the Industrial Socialist League, founded in 1918, and of their associated unions set up between 1917 and 1919 by anarchist militants of all “races” such as Thomas William Thibedi, Reuben Cetiwe, Hamilton Kraai, JD Ngojo, Bernard Sigamoney, RK Moodley, AZ Berman, Manuel Lopes, Joe Pick, Gordon Lee, Fred Pienaar, Johnny Gomas and Andrew Dunbar. This syndicalist tradition was revived by the likes of Rick Turner – murdered by a clandestine state death-squad in 1978 – and played a key role in worker militancy during the upsurge of the trade union movement in the struggle against apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s. The Federation stands proudly in the fighting tradition of the rank-and-file workers’ networks, people’s civics, street committees, progressive popular fronts and community defence groups of this period of struggle. But instead of the authoritarian, multi-class National Democratic Revolution of the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party elite vanguard, the Federation stands for a libertarian Regional Social Revolution by a Front of Oppressed Classes, united across regional borders, in furtherance of the Internationalist Social Revolution; and

e) operationally, the Federation is based on federalism, individual and collective responsibility, and on tactical and theoretical unity, being the core principles of the “Organisational Platform of the Anarchist Communists” drawn up in 1927 by Nestor Makhno and other anarchist guerrilla veterans of the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine. In the terms of the Latin American anarchist movement, the Federation defines as a “specific” anarchist organisation.

4) SYMBOL: The symbol of the ZACF is a silhouette of Africa divided diagonally into the anarchist black & red, with a black star in the lower red half over southern Africa and a raised fist straining against its chains, encircled by the name ZABALAZA ANARCHIST COMMUNIST FEDERATION.

Member Groups of the ZACF

1) Zabalaza Books

2) Bikisha Media Collective

3) Zabalaza Action Group

4) Anarchist Black Cross

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