Narrative Report 2004-2005

War On Want

Friday 14 September 2007

The APF comes to the end of the 3 year Comic Relief funding project a strong organization albeit with some weaknesses. There is no doubt that the APF has made its mark as an organization fighting and campaigning on issues facing the working class and the poor. It has built a modicum of respect for itself among the masses and has forced the powers that be to respect and be wary of it. The last mile of the 3 year project was proverbially the hardest. There have been many hiccups in reporting and related matters but with the submission of all reports, including this one, and the video, we should all happily wrap up the project and know that we have successfully finished the race.


October 2004 to June 2005

Table of contents

1. Introduction 2. What is the APF? 3. Political context 4. Overall assessment 5. Main activities in October 2004 to June 2005 5.1 A shift in the method of work 5.2 Mass action fighting for delivery a) Against pre-paid water meters b) Against evictions c) Actions around special events 5.3 Contesting local government policy 5.4 Solidarity with workers 5.5 Right to air movement: Rasa FM 104.5 5.6 State repression 5.7 Local and international solidarity 6. Work of APF structures 6.1 APF affiliates 6.2 APF committees 6.3 Staff 7. Use of finances 8. Recommendations 9. Conclusion

In partnership with War on Want

1. Introduction

This report will cover the period from October 2004 to June 2005. The awkwardness of the time span covered is because in October the APF submitted a detailed April to September 2004 report on its activities to its funding partner War on Want. The present report avoids repeating issues raised in the latter report; it also coincides with the end of the 3-year funding cycle of the APF-Comic Relief funding agreement and - happily - the beginning of a new cycle. The period covered by the report was a politically difficult one for many social movements in South Africa. The APF had its share of challenges but emerged more or less politically stronger and organizationally intact despite some persistent weaknesses and new challenges. The report records the main activities of the year and then looks at how each structure of the APF did in its work during the period under review. The report concludes by making a few general points on the APF’s work in the past, present and future.

2. What is the APF?

The APF is a home of struggle. It brings together different organizations and individuals in struggle against exploitation and oppression. As a campaigning organization the APF has mainly worked around the following focus areas:

· Water · Electricity · Housing · Education · Health care, HIV/AIDS · Labour

The APF fights alongside communities and workers defending themselves against the negative consequences of the privatization of state assets in South Africa, in particular, those assets involved in the provision of basic services (water, electricity, etc. including transport and meeting venues for working class communities). The APF traces the source of this problem to the ANC government’s macro-economic policies which put the interests of profit before the needs of the majority of people. The APF believes that it is the people themselves, in particular, the working class and the poor who can and must challenge neo-liberal policies. The APF supports and is part of a movement against the rich getting richer and the poor poorer not only in South Africa but in other parts of the world too. The APF is inspired by the World Social Forum slogan : Another World is Possible. The APF’s vision is socialism, a society which will organize economic activity in such a way that the needs of all the people are met.

The APF is a coalition of about 22 affiliates most of which are community based. Two affiliates are socialist political groups. The affiliates are the following:

1. Kathorus Concerned Residents KCR East Rand region 2. Tembisa Concerned Residents Association TECRA East Rand region 3. Duduza Residents Committee DRC East Rand region 4. Tsakane Crisis Committee TCC East Rand region 5. Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee AVCC Johannesburg region 6. Thembelihle Crisis Committee TCC Johannesburg region 7. Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee OFWCC Johannesburg region 8. Mandelaville Crisis Committee MCC Johannesburg region 9. Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee SECC J Johannesburg region 10. Motsoaledi Concerned Residents MCR Johannesburg region 11. Kliptown Residents Committee KRC Johannesburg region 12. Evaton West Community Crisis Committee EWCCC Vaal region 13. Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee SWRCC Vaal region 14. Kanana Community Crisis Committee KCCC Vaal region 15. Learners Representative Committee LRC Vaal region 16. Vaal Community Forum VCF Vaal region 17. Bophelong Community Development Forum BOCOSFO Vaal region 18. South African Unemployed Youth Forum SAUYF Vaal region 19. Soshanguve Community Development Forum SCDF Pretoria region 20. Atteridgeville Crisis Committee ACC Pretoria region 21. Keep Left KL socialist affiliate 22. Socialist Group SG socialist affiliate

The APF is part of the Socialist Movements Indaba, an organization uniting some South African social movements, namely: Jubilee South Africa, Anti-Eviction Campaign (Western Cape), Concerned Citizens Forum, Environmental Justice Network Forum, Landless Peoples Movement, Rural Womens Movement. The APF is part of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation, a body that brings together organizations and individuals who support the Phiri community’s struggle against water pre-paid meters and their extension to other areas.

3. Political context

This is a period when the South African state began to develop vigorous countermeasures against the political challenge posed by and reflected in the new social movements in the country. This took the form of more guile and stratagems to counter or explain away problems and demands raised by communities and workers in struggle. It also took the form of outright state repression. For example, in the struggle against the installation of pre-paid meters being waged in Soweto the authorities were able to triumph by documented mafia-like tactics such as hiring informers to infiltrate organizations, attempting to turn leading comrades into informers, alleged bribery of community activists, declaring parts of Phiri “no human rights” zones in order to allow for the “peaceful” installation of pre-paid meters, etc. Landless Peoples Movement comrades were jailed and tortured for protesting on election day. The manner the police dealt with the Free State mass uprisings protesting poor basic service delivery, shooting dead 17-year old Tebogo Mkhonza in Ntabazwe, Harrismith; arresting and charging community leaders with sedition in Heinemann, indicates how state repression is on the rise in South Africa. At the same time the ruling class cannot rely on the stick alone, political methods were employed to win the hearts and minds of the people to the narrow neo-liberal path of the logic of economic fundamentalism. This logic suggests that first and foremost the rich must get richer and then afterwards perhaps the benefits might trickle down to the poor.

The increasingly explosive and highly visible mass discontent in working class areas in South Africa pose a serious challenge to the ANC government. The mass discontent seems to centre around access to basic services and the quality and affordability of these. The discontent takes the form of mass uprisings such as those that happened in several areas in the Free State in 2004. Uprisings also took place in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, and, recently, in Eastern and Western Cape townships and shack settlements. The problems goading the communities to action are about service delivery but seem to go beyond the South African perennial problem of water and electricity. The crisis is now increasingly around the provision of housing in the country. In 1994 when democracy was ushered in the housing backlog was estimated at 1.6 million housing units which needed to be built. Ten years later the backlog has grown to 3.5 million housing units. The new Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu unveiled her grand policy initiative to address the crisis and “fast track” housing delivery. Her plan had some interesting and bold ideas but on the whole the plan stubbornly continues within the logic of neo-liberalism. Her most daring idea was retracted within a few days after the country’s rich loudly complained in the press they own. The minister had proposed that low income houses should be built on prime land and in the vicinity of the rich suburbs if necessary rather than the current practice of dumping the poor and the working class in far-off forlorn and forsaken areas on the outskirts of the city, sometimes in the middle of nowhere where, according to the state housing officials, the land is cheap.

In the Free State the symbol of what the people are fighting for has became the struggle to eradicate the bucket system of sanitation. More recently in some areas, such Port Elizabeth, the people’s uprising has been around the issue of defective RDP (low income subsidized government) houses. The favourite method of struggle in most of the uprisings is to go to the nearest highway and blockade the road so that nothing passes. The strength of the uprisings and the new movements developing in these areas indicates a small but important change in the mood of the working class in South Africa. Perhaps the coming local government elections are sharpening the issues and bringing more clarity in the minds of some workers about what is at stake. It is possible that some people are simply finding the harsh conditions of life imposed on them by capitalism increasingly unbearable. The slogan “enough is enough” is popular in these uprising.

The uprisings contain a potential which needs developing by those seeking fundamental social change. At the moment the uprisings seem fragmented as often there is no organized contact between the different communities in struggle. The new social movements such as APF, LPM and others were caught by surprise as much as anyone else by these uprisings. The APF is however rising up to the occasion and has sent delegations to the Free State to connect with the struggles there. It seems that the militant social movements such as the APF were the precursors of what is now clearly a new mood of confidence and combativeness of the masses in South Africa. The challenge now is for organizations like the APF to find their place within the broader movement and to contribute to building and directing the movement.

It is noteworthy that some of the communities in struggle have looked to the APF for support and solidarity. The APF’s response is to give support and solidarity where it can and to encourage such communities and their organizations to be part of a wider local and global movement against neo-liberalism. The vision of a different way of doing things is important as the authorities are adept at moving in, making some impressive speeches, offer a few cosmetic concessions and thus contain and curtail the struggles while failing to address the true causes of the problem. Also, the authorities find it easier to isolate and crush any organized challenge if the struggles are fragmented and are not part of a bigger movement.

Organized labour began to stir again. The biggest public sector strike in South African history took place in September 2004 and reminded everyone of what is possible with a mobilized and organized working class. The inevitable attempts by union leaders, who prioritise the interests of the ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance rather than the interests of their members, to undermine the strike were made but whatever their impact they failed to call off the strike. They managed to confine it to a 2 day affair. This public sector strike was unique in that white workers struck together with black workers, also white and blue collar workers came out in support of each other. Unemployed workers in communities also supported the strike despite the government’s propaganda. The door seems open for unionized workers, unorganized workers, the youth and unemployed workers to join forces in struggle against capitalist exploitation and oppression in the new South Africa. Organizations such as the APF have a large role to play in helping history along towards this path and to contribute in the struggle to expose the politics of betrayal of the leadership.

Very recently there has been a strike wave in South Africa with South African Airways grounding to a standstill and towns and cities getting trashed by striking municipal workers. Thousands of gold miners also downed tools and a major retail chain store was also hit by strike action. The APF managed to support the municipal strike by joining the marches and demonstrations and issuing a pamphlet. Another very recent development has been the announcement by COSATU, South Africa’s biggest trade union federation, of a (broad/united) “front” of community and labour organizations fighting against unemployment and poverty. This launch took place in the Western Cape on the back of struggles against pre-paid water meters uniting communities and workers in this province. It has sparked a lot of debate and threatens to split the South African as some shout yea yea and others nay nay to this initiative. Comrade Dale summarises the position on this issue deftly in an article in the latest Green Left Weekly:

Despite such differing responses and interpretations from within the social movements, there is no doubt that COSATU’s initiative - while noting its extremely contradictory and hotly contested nature both inside COSATU and its alliance partners - has sparked an important and necessary strategic and tactical debate among and within left forces in South Africa.

4. Overall assessment

The APF - War on Want partnership in the project under review has the following aims and objectives:

· to promote an alternative agenda based on human and constitutional rights and principles of social justice · to strengthen the capacity of the community organizations to mobilize in favour of pro-poor basic services policies · to strengthen South African civil society links in particular between social movements, labour and rural communities · to influence basic services policies in order to make them more beneficial to the poor people

The APF seemed to have done reasonably well in respect of all of the above aims in the period being assessed by this report. As indicated earlier in this report this is a turbulent time in South African politics. Everyone was caught by surprise by the spontaneous uprisings. The APF developed a long-term plan to connect with the struggles in the Free State and implemented parts of it. Unfortunately the contact with Diepsloot was lost and needs to be revived after a few months of attempts to connect with the community there.

The struggle continued for the APF in the period under review. The APF successfully did what was necessary to maintain its organization while supporting and being part of various struggles waged by communities and workers. The APF seems to increasingly follow the lead of its affiliates by responding to the struggles emerging from communities before developing programmes to support, strengthen and extend these struggles. Thus it will be noted that most actions were initiated and undertaken by affiliates rather than by the APF in the period under review. One consequence of this is the unevenness of development of struggle as different affiliates have different strengths and operate in different conditions. The merits of this slight shift in strategy aside the result has been to expose some of the weaknesses in the APF and its affiliates.

Among the highlights of the year was the march to the mayor organized by the SECC under the banner of “Organisations Opposed to Pre-paid Meters” in November 2004. The 2 000 strong march was organized by a coalition of Soweto and Eldorado Park organizations notably the Independent Baptist Church, the Community Initiative Devolopment Forum, the South African Poor People’s Taxi Association and others. The march was against the pre-paid water meter and its success was how an APF affiliate managed to broaden its base by forming local coalitions.

The formation of the housing committee was an important organizational step for the APF. Although this committee met some problems and has not delivered fully on its mandate its existence is significant. It is a committee set up to address a particular issue troubling working class communities. Other APF committees were originally conceptualized and formed to “service” the APF rather than organize campaigns around a specific issue with the exception of the education committee which both “services” the APF by organizing internal workshops while simultaneously planning campaigns and interventions in the broader education struggle in the country. The housing committee is thus set up as a campaign committee on housing and its potential will be realized when the APF organizes and launches a housing campaign preferably together with other organizations in the future.

The APF experienced modest growth in the period under review. Two new affiliates joined, namely, Wynberg Concerned Residents, an organization representing about 300 families facing evictions from their homes due to a council development project. They successfully resisted a big eviction attempt in December and joined the APF the week after. The second affiliate is the Kliptown Concerned Residents (KpCR), representing the community of Kliptown. This community organization had for several years worked closely with the SECC and was familiar with and to the APF. In a happy coincidence the KpCR affiliated on the same year that the country celebrated 50 years of the Freedom Charter. This allowed the Kliptown residents to raise their grievances during the ceremonies. The Freedom Charter says on housing: “There shall be houses, security and comfort” while in Kliptown people live in shacks and use the bucket system for sanitation. The KpCR and WCR joined the APF with a bang.

A rose comes with thorns. The APF organization revealed not only its beauty but its ugly side as well during the period under review. There were organizational problems inside APF affiliates which began to divide the APF as comrades disagreed on how to solve these problems. There were also accusations of APF leaders fuelling divisions and involved in intrigue. Various measures mostly sending the office bearers to resolve issues were implemented to solve the problems. These internal problems are probably part of a process of growth which clearly is a painful process. The APF is busy trying to resolve its internal problems while history is not standing still and the struggle continues. Hopefully these experiences will lead to strengthening the organization and clarifying roles and policies which might need re-adjustment as an organization grows and changes with the demands of the time.

The APF had to face a major challenge when its treasurer, Comrade Miselo Bayi,suddenly decided to resign. He left to study law full-time at university. This was a blow to the APF which had spent a lot of time and energy training the comrade in his duties. As a consequence the APF did not have a treasurer for a few months because the deputy-treasurer was not in a position to take over. During this time Comrade Dale McKinley, the media officer, acted as treasurer until Comrade Jabulile Mogane was elected as our new treasurer. The APF elected her because she is a young committed female comrade who deserves an opportunity to prove herself in a leadership position. The media officer gallantly offered to work with and support her.

The June 16th 1976 commemorations in 2004 were decentralized to regions. This year this was taken a step further and decentralized to affiliate level. The APF encouraged affiliates to organize events in their own communities involving a wider constituency than their usual one. This strategy proved successful albeit there was a very uneven response by the affiliates. KCR and SECC are 2 affiliates who held very successful June 16 commemorations succeeding in attracting many local youth to their events. The highlight was the launch of Rasa FM in Soweto on June 16. Rasa FM is a community radio station which operates from the APF organiser’s garage. It managed to broadcast for a month for 10 hours a day before it closed to prepare for a proper launch and to address the unwanted interest of the radio licensing authorities.

5. Main activities in October 2004 to June 2005

5.1 A shift in the method of work

In past annual reports of the APF a distinction is made between APF-initiated and APF-wide activities as opposed to those conducted by the APF’s affiliates. This distinction still holds in practice. It is important to keep this distinction in mind because it allows us to detect a shift in the way the APF does things, namely, that in the period covered by this report increasingly the initiative is being given to APF affiliates to organize activities and the APF comes in support of the affiliate-specific work. It should also be noted that with the creation of regional solidarity committees some of the initiative and organization is being taken over by these structures away from the centre. This shift is subtle as the APF centre still controls the resources; also, decisions to support affiliate work are taken by the centre. But it is an important shift which poses many challenges and contains the potential of increasingly exponentially the APF’s capacity to organize the masses at grassroots level.

5.2 Mass action fighting for delivery

a) Against pre-paid water meters

Soshanguve removes pre-paid meters Residents of Soshanguve, organized by the Soshanguve Development Forum, woke up early one morning and proceeded to march and remove more than 30 pre-paid installed in the area. At the end of the action 4 comrades had to sleep in jail. This action was followed by a meeting called by the mayor of Tshwane who proceeded to impose a moratorium of the installation of pre-paid water meters in Soshanguve until the matter was “properly addressed”. This victory has not been dampened by the continuining court case against our comrades. The Soshanguve continues to drink its water in peace.

Blockade of Old Potch road This action in support of the demand to stop the installation of pre-paid meters against the people’s will was initiated by the SECC and supported by APF affiliates such as Thembelihle and Alex Vukuzenzele. The comrades copied the method of struggle used in the Free State and blockaded the road for about 2 hours. At the end of the melee ten residents were arrested and charged. The action won the noisy support of students from 2 local schools who could not join the action because they were locked inside the school premises as is the standard practice in township schools. The media coverage re-ignited the public debate on the right to water for a short while.

March to mayor masondo 11 Nov This action of the Organisations Against Pre-Paid Water Meters, a coalition of local organizations was well supported and built unity between different communities and organizations. A church organization, the Independent Baptist Church, was part of this alliance. This method of alliance building is regarded by the APF as one way to build wider support for campaigns and to strengthen grassroots struggles.

b) Against evictions

Wynberg resistance to evictions The Wynberg community was pushed to organize itself as it faced mass eviction from houses they have occupied for decades. They were found to be on the wrong side of the Alexandra Renewal Project, an upgrading plan for the area. The problem with the plan is that it entails thousands of people being forcibly relocated to areas far away from job opportunities. This is a policy choice the city council is making despite the existence of a more progressive plan which the council had earlier adopted. The alternative plan entails developing Alexandra where it is with its people and finding land in the immediate surrounding areas and strengthening the economic and infrastructure links between Sandton and Alexandra. Inspired by the line of the APF the Wynberg community successfully resisted their eviction and have since built a strong vibrant community organization which with other APF affiliates in the area leads the resistance to evictions and to the Alexandra Renewal Project in Alexander. The struggle against the eviction is currently in the law courts and a ridiculous out of court settlement proposal by the developer was rejected by the community. The WCR was part of a people’s inspection in Alexandra recently. They have also recruited to the APF residents of Marlborough Old Warehouses who also face eviction by the city council.

c) Actions around special days

Kliptown demonstration: 50 years of the Freedom Charter This action was initiated by the APF’s newest affiliate, the Kliptown Concerned Residents (KpCR). It consisted of a people’s inspection of the area, a rally and a demonstration at the monument unveiling ceremony. To lay the groundwork a 7-week long series of critical discussions on the Freedom Charter was organized by the Social Movements Indaba (SMI). The action was effective in many respects not least uniting organizations of the SMI in a common campaign.

Alex World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) anniversary A few long years after the WSSD conference and with the fanfare gone life continues as before if not slightly harder in Alexander. This working class township only 10km from Sandton City, the richest suburb in Africa, is one of the poorest townships in South Africa. It invariably leaves a lasting image of squalor and chaos in the mind of any first time visitor. Alexander Vukuzenzele proposed to the APF to commemorate the WSSD with a march to the provincial housing authorities demanding a review of the Alexandra Renewal Project, a presidential development project whose main feature is eviction of thousands and relocation to areas kilometers away from job opportunities. The march also highlighted the struggle for housing and electricity in Alexandra. Vukuzenzele is form by residents who are occupying government flats without permission and who were harassed for connecting their own electricity since the authorities refuse to electrify the flats. The march also criticized the Alexandra Renewal Project of being anti-development and riddled with documented corruption.

June 16 commemorations The APF asked its affiliates to stage their own events and funded these. Eight affiliates held events in the form of rallies, cultural events, workshops and meetings. The aim was to reach youth in schools and those who are sitting at home unemployed. There were some successes from this effort including stronger ties being developed between KCR (Kathorus Concerned Residents) and local student organizations.

5.3 Contesting local government policy

People’s inspections Two people’s inspections were held by affiliates, namely, by the Evaton West Community Crisis Committee (EWCCC) and by the Alexandra Concerned Residents (ACR). This method of putting pressure on local government authorities by raising community awareness of the sorry conditions in working class townships proved to be a successful innovation. It involves inviting the community, people in authority and the media to a walk about in the area targeting certain issues and grievances such as a sanitation plant next to houses in Evaton West, mind-boggling overcrowding in Alexandra, etc. This is followed by a discussion of the issues. The method has won the communities good publicity and a fillip to their morale and confidence. It is an essential part of the APF strategy to use the coming local government elections to take forward the struggle. A hundred or so people attend each of these inspections with women in the majority.

Local government workshop This workshop took 2 days and its aim was to develop the APF’s approach to the coming local government elections. Everyone in the APF agrees on the opportunity the elections will provide for taking up campaigns and raising awareness among a wider audience. The general plan is to focus the work of the APF on issues around local government and to use the public attention on issues during an election campaign to criticize neo-liberal policies and connect with more people. The workshop developed a plan to take matters forward including writing up an election platform, setting up phases of the campaign and sharing experiences and views on the nature of local government democracy in South Africa. An integrated reporting method was developed whereby the organizer will write the reports of all the committees. On average 63 comrades attended the workshop over 2 days with 27 of them being female comrades.

Local government elections campaign The local government elections campaign has started in the APF. Two Co-ordinating Committee meetings have devoted a substantial portion of the 2-day meeting to planning and receiving reports on the local government elections campaign. A lot of time was spent during these meetings debating specific clauses in the platform albeit these do raise broader issues of principle. The APF has agreed among itself that there is great need to link more closely political points with supporting actual struggles taking place on the ground. Thus the most effective way of building a campaign around the elections is to take up struggle on the issues of local government. In this way a clear connection is made between organization and winning our working class demands. The APF has through discussion concluded that bourgeois democracy contains severe limitations albeit it being an improvement to crude despotism. The message of the APF is for the rank and file to trust in their own strength standing together with others facing the same problems. The APF took the position that it will not run candidates as the APF but rather will allow its affiliates to decide for themselves and according to local conditions whether to run candidates or not. The aim is to raise public awareness about the anti-poor policies of the government and the need to build organization to challenge this.

People’s dialogue and the people’s assembly The APF adopted the model of calling a people’s assembly to provide a place where the community can meet and discuss local government with the intention of taking action to control and influence the process in favour of the working class and the poor. KCR called a “people’s dialogue” in its area and invited a wide range of political and civic bodies. Those who came listened and discussed the issues raised by the KCR and by each organization present. This event was a success. It showed how the APF can build bridges between itself and other organizations locally and influence them to support the struggle for basic services for all. About 70 people attended with more or less equal numbers of men to women.

Demonstration at local government summit The APF staged a demonstration at the local government summit called by the ANC government and addressed by President Thabo Mbeki. The APF issued a pamphlet and demanded that it be distributed to conference delegates who were ANC-SACP-COSATU delegates. This was done and the small incident was reported upon by one regional radio station. The event helped to shape the APF’s local government election campaign as it involved us engaging with the enemy, finding out what the latest government position are and what strategy is being used to win the hearts and minds of the people. A hundred APF comrades were bused in to demonstrate with a sizable number of female comrades albeit less in number than men.

5.4 Solidarity with workers

Support for SAMWU march and public sector strike The APF was there in support of the biggest public sector strike in South African history which saw teachers, security personnel, nurse, and other civil servants downing tools for a day over a wage dispute. The mood of the strikers in their marches was that of anger and militancy. The APF felt that the strike should have been longer than one day to make it more effective. Typically the union leadership somersaulted and agreed to a deal which far from satisfied workers. SAMWU, the municipal workers union, held a one-day strike over privatization and wages in September 2004. The APF organized comrades to join the marches in the Vaal and East Rand. Solidarity with workers in struggle is important because labour is the source of profit and to hit the capitalists we have to hit them in the pocket. Our vision is to unite the struggles of the employed and unemployed worker and the youth into a powerful challenge to vested interest.

Support for COSATU general strike against unemployment With unemployment standing at 40% it was not surprising to see COSATU organize around this issue. The general strike was well supported and upward of 3 million workers stayed at home on the day. The APF sent comrades to attend the march in Johannesburg in support. The APF was critical of the COSATU leadership’s demand to peg the rand cheaper in order to allow capitalists to make better profits in the light of international currency values and trade. The second demand by COSATU was no better calling for a “buy South Africa” campaign which the APF views as retrogressive because it pits one working class against another across national borders and unites within national borders the workers with their bosses in competition against other capitalist “nations”. But our disagreement cannot be a basis for not giving support.

Support for suspended hospital workers in Soweto Ten workers were suspended by the management of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital they protested against the unfair implementation of a merit incentive system. The SECC had earlier helped the workers collect more than 300 signatures from hospital staff against the system. The suspended workers received support from the SECC labour office and the APF organizer until they were reinstated and charges dropped against them 3 months later. This was a victory for the workers even if they did not receive much support from their respective unions. The SECC has sent 2 comrades for para-legal training with the intention of opening an advice centre which would deal with, among other things, labour problems.

5.5 Right to air movement: Rasa FM

The APF in a partnership with the Indymedia and SECC managed to set up a community radio station albeit pirate in Pimville, Soweto. The radio project is led by a group of youth many of them from the local area. The vision behind this project is to start a movement and network of low power radio stations in South African working class townships. The class must speak with its own voice and this requires some control over broadcasting technology, traditionally a preserve of the ruling class. Rasa FM proved to be a great success transmitting on 104.5 and launching itself on June 16 in a youth event and immediately winning a listenership throughout Soweto. The station was on air for 10 hours a day for a month and attracted many young listeners. The project has cut down to 3 hour broadcasts daily for practical and legal reasons. This is allowing the crew to sort out some organizational, legal and technical matters. Rasa FM gives hope to many comrades and gives but a glimpse of what is possible if the airwaves were controlled by workers and their communities.

5.6 State repression

The state hardened its stance during the period covered by this report. The first sign of this was the shooting and death of Teboho Mkhonza, a 17-year old youth who was in a community protest against the bucket system and other issues at Ntabazwe, Harrismith. In Diepsloot the police cordoned off the whole area and imposed a state of siege as part of maintaining law and order. In Heinemann community leaders of the protest actions there were charged with sedition and can get 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The APF had its share of state repression. Comrades get arrested and then a lot of time and resources are spent attending a court case which mostly gets thrown out by the court 9 out of 10 times. This happened a lot in the struggle against water pre-paid meters where residents refuse to allow workers to install the meters and get arrested. Typically the charges are malicious damage to property, intimidation, incitement and the like. In one dramatic and frightening case Comrade Matthews Ndlovu was sentenced to 2 years in jail or 25 000 for removing a pre-paid meter installed in his yard without his permission.

Ten Soweto residents were arrested when the SECC blockaded the main road. They won their freedom by admitting their guilt and accepting a suspended sentence. Four residents of Naledi, Soweto, including the chairperson of the local SECC branch were arrested for removing pre-paid meters. Another 4 were arrested a few months later, again including the local SECC chairperson. There is a veritable civil war in Naledi with residents removing pre-paid meters and Johannesburg Water company workers backed by security and police come back and re-install. In one house this tug of war has happened 5 times, install, remove, re-install. The residents have approached the local attorney-general on this matter of installing meters against the will of the people. He was cagey.

Four Alexandra residents were arrested for connecting their electricity including the Vukuzenzele local organizer. At least 30% of the people in Alex have to connect themselves to the electricity grid illegally because they don’t have the papers which affirm their tenure where they live. Vukuzenzele members are occupying government flats and have been living there for 5 years and they claim their right to electricity by doing Operation Khanyisa (Zulu expression: “to put on the light”). The arrests united Vukuzenzele members with other local organizations behind the cells. This co-operation has continued.

Two ANC councillors were charged with common assault after they physically attacked Comrade Bongani Lubisi, the SECC organizer, in a public meeting called by the SECC. They were found not guilty but the case highlighted the intolerant and thuggish methods the local political agents of the ruling class are prepared to use against opposition to their pro-capitalist anti-worker policies. The case indicated that grassroots organizations will not take attacks lying down.

5.7 Local and international solidarity

The APF maintained its strong orientation towards building solidarity with other organizations and movements locally and internationally. The APF continued as a member of the Social Movements Indaba (SMI), an umbrella body uniting social movements implacably opposed to neo-liberalism in South Africa. During the period under review the SMI managed to launch 2 provincial structures in the Western Cape and in Gauteng. The APF also paid attention to the Free State, a province which has seen several communities rising up in arms against lack of delivery by the government. Three comrades from the APF, including the organizer and one office bearer, visited the Free State and organized a strategizing workshop with representatives from 10 communities in the province. This work continues. Communities in the Eastern Cape province have been making contact with the APF wishing to work closer with us. One such community is in Queenstown and they have sent their representatives to meet with the APF organizer. As part of this work to link all the community struggles in South Africa the APF is planning a national conference on local government in close co-operation with the SMI. Hopefully this will help knit together the various strands of community action and anger presently gripping the country albeit in a fragmented fashion.

The APF participated actively in the African Social Forum through allowing the SMI to mandate its organizer to attend the meetings of this coalition of African social movements and progressive NGOs. We played a crucial role in winning the position of getting the World Social Forum (WSF) to come to Africa and then ironically in fighting against this important event being held in South Africa in favour of other equally-deserving African states. We also helped to break the deadlock between Mali and Kenya, both of whom were bidding to host the event. A compromise was reached whereby the big event will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, while the 2006 decentralised WSF will be held in Mali. All is well that ends well. More importantly has been the APF and SMI’s role in contesting the politics inside the ASF with a view towards influencing this structure to maintain its anti-neo-liberal orientation and its ties to grassroots struggles. This is an on-going struggle.

The APF also participated in the June meeting of the ASF that was held in Harare, Zimbabwe. In this meeting a strong connection was made with Harare comrades laying the foundation for strong APF and SMI participation in the Southern African Social Forum meeting to be held in October 2005. This line of activity is seen by the APF as the strongest way to build international solidarity, reaching out to comrades and struggles nearer to us in and around South Africa’s borders. The APF is very concerned collectively about what is happening in Zimbabwe, for example. The APF sent its deputy-chairperson, Comrade Tumi Cayicayi, to visit Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission in March 2005. She went as part of a delegation consisting of LPM, Jubilee comrades and others from other movements. Her report informed the APF position on Zimbabwe and was a topic for debate widely in left leaning society. The APF is opposed to the Mugabe regime because it is capitalist and attacks workers. These are some of the points and issues for debate that will be raised in the Southern African Social Forum meeting in Harare.

6. Work of APF structures

6.1 APF affiliates

The APF’s affiliates performed their tasks reasonably well if unevenly. Affiliates face different conditions and their leadership differs from area to area in strength and style. Some affiliates are vibrant community based mini-mass organizations while others are weak at worst consisting of a few activists connected with APF activities, networks and resources. The majority of course are somewhere in between these two characterizations. The APF needs to strive to bring each affiliate to a certain level of organizational development as a form of support and condition for membership. Regular elections, regular general meetings, accountability of leadership to the base are some of the standards the APF can set.

What follows are a few critical points on each affiliate to give a taste of the diversity of issues and methods of work.

NAME ISSUES ADDRESSED SUCCESSES COMMENTS Evaton West Community Crisis Committee Development, housing, electricity, corruption People’s inspection, marched against electricity cut-offs, corrupt council officials fired This affiliate became stronger through rooting its work on the ground Kathorus Concerned Residents Housing, evictions, electricity People’s dialogue, good June 16 event, has experience with running candidates for local government This affiliate has great potential. It will run candidates in the local elections and must be given support Atteridgeville Crisis Committee Housing, labour issues Organising new organizations to form a Pretoria region after some delays This affiliate seems to be overcoming its problems of alliance to the APF and a political party has to overcome its allegiance problems with another o Soshanguve Community Development Forum Water pre-paid meters, housing Removed pre-paid meters, made links with municipal workers’ union A consistent affiliate in danger of being sidetracked by political intrigue and in-fighting arising out of its relationship with other Pretoria organizations Bophelong Community Development Forum Youth, culture, housing, electricity, adult basic education Vibrant affiliate conducted historical research into the area Youthful dynamic affiliate weakened by loss of chairperson and problems with previous chairperson over resources Learners Representative Committee Education, youth, culture Organized a June 16 event Has a lot of potential, needs to strengthen its democratic structures and develop a programme Mandelaville Crisis Committee Housing, electricity Won a court case forcing council to honour its promises on housing Weakened by leadership battles and lack of accountability Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee Pollution, occupational health, retrenchments Going from strength to strength, got good publicity on national TV and newspaper, has attracted retrenched workers from other factories, linked up local community on environmental pollution Most promising affiliate which embodies the link between employed and unemployed workers Vaal Community Forum Housing, electricity Maintained their organization, set to contest in the coming elections Some leadership problems crippled the organization, needs to sort out its election strategy South African Unemployed Youth Forum Youth, unemployment, development Holding regular meetings with residents in the area Lots of potential, can link up with emerging campaigns on unemployment Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee Electricity, housing, water, health care, labour issues, education Good campaign against pre-paid meters, united with local organizations, worked with suspended hospital workers Strong vibrant affiliate with a base, dogged by a split led by some of its leaders, will run candidates in the coming elections Kanana Community Crisis Committee Housing, development, electricity, corruption Meeting regularly, set up adult basic education classes Has potential, the leadership pre-occupied by internal organizational politics of the APF and the region Thembelihle Crisis Committee Housing, resistance to forced removals, electricity Developed a programme of action to rebuild, helped form local alliance of organisations Struggling to maintain organizational and programmatic momentum, struggling to co-operate with local LPM branch Tsakane Crisis Committee Education, anti-war campaign Participated in APF structures Needs to rebuild its structures, build organization and take up local issues Motsoaledi Concerned Residents Housing, development, gardening project, library, creche Great strides made in this informal settlement rebuilding the struggle, great march, launched the organization Amazing organizational turn around and strength, needs support to mould the energy and enthusiasm with good working class politics Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee Water, development, gardening project Forming local water alliances with crèches and schools Stable and rooted affiliate slowly building a political presence in the area Kliptown Residents Committee Housing, electricity, sanitation, street trading Organized against Freedom Charter celebrations, involved with local organizations in various ways Lots of potential for winning support in the area, needs to explore running candidates in the local elections Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee Housing, electricity Organized WSSD anniversary march, organized united front with local organizations against electricity cut-offs, part of Alexandra people’s inspection Good work of affiliate nearly undermined by senseless internal leadership fights, well positioned to win the whole Alexandra against the Alexandra Renewal Project Tembisa Concerned Residents Association Housing, electricity, public works programme Has developed its election programme where it will run candidates Needs to explore and emphasise the link between struggles on the ground and the election campaign Duduza Residents Committee Housing, development Helped local community being evicted Has potential located in a vast shack settlement, indicated a need for guidance on how to approach local elections Wynberg Concerned Residents Housing, evictions, development Successfully resisted eviction, build formidable local organization, won new area to APF, organized people’s inspection Great potential, systematic dedicated organizing work, should consider running a candidate in the local elections 6.2 APF committees

Co-ordinating Committee This committee consists of 5 reps per affiliate and started to meet bi-monthly over 2 days instead of monthly for a day. This change seems to be working well although it is too early to say. With the change there seems to be more space for political discussion although the meeting still struggles to finish its long agenda. The idea now is to use the meeting for policy and political discussions rather than bog it down with administrative matters. The meeting is still struggling to get adequate female representation and participation but there seems to be a slight improvement over the past months. It does seem as if many affiliates do not come with mandates and are not well prepared for the discussions. This is an area for improvement.

Executive Committee This committee is attended by one rep per affiliate and during the period under review started to prefer attendance by chairpersons of affiliates. This is an attempt to root discussions among people who will give report-backs and be in a position to urge comrades to act on matters. This committee began to act like a campaign co-ordinating team after a series of chairpersons’ meetings which were called specifically to get campaigns moving on the ground. While the work and level of discussion in this committee has improved it was occasionally bogged down by discussion of internal fights in the APF and its affiliates.

Office bearers This committee consists of 6 office bearers (chairperson, deputy, secretary, deputy, treasurer and deputy) and the 2 staff members. It is functioning smoothly although it must sometimes struggle to meet due to time constraints. It meets weekly and directs the work of the organization taking care of the daily nitty-gritty. The committee has unwittingly become a power structure because it receives requests for financial assistance from affiliates and has the power to agree or refuse. Sitting on top of resources does introduce a new dynamic in the leadership of mass organizations and can sometimes provoke patronage and opportunism unless this is strictly guarded against and combated. The office bearers had to ask the organization to elect a new treasurer after the resignation of the incumbent. The new treasurer increased the number of women on the office bearers’ committee from one to two. One step at a time.

Legal committee This committee had a difficult time constituting itself from being a one-person committee into a team. A new co-ordinator took over although the relationship with the previous co-ordinator has so far not been fully clarified. The committee faced a major challenge of keeping track of the many court cases and arrests which beset the APF. A situation of crisis was reached when without warning the lawyer dropped all of the APF’s cases on the grounds of a heavy workload. The lawyer was employed by the Freedom of Expression (FXI), an NGO, in order to help the social movements with their court cases in the light of increasing state repression. The dropping of the APF cases coincided with the FXI earning its official status as a law clinic probably on the basis of the cases it handled for the social movements. The APF is struggling to secure a meeting with FXI to sort out this legal wrangle. Meanwhile the legal committee is trying to strengthen itself for the hard work ahead and is exploring new legal networks which can help comrades and communities in trouble with the law after the FXI apparently left them in the lurch.

Media committee This committee has been working successfully meeting once a month and well attended by reps from the different affiliates albeit not all. It produced 2 newsletters during the period under review, purchased a video camera and TV monitor, organized drawings of murals in support of the struggle for basic services for all in the townships and challenged the South African Broadcasting Corporation for biased reporting and won the case. In addition this committee produces pamphlets and leaflets for the APF and affiliates on request. The media committee turned its attention to the APF website and is keeping it updated. The committee has produced a stream of press statements on the various struggles and issues the APF addresses. The committee did its work.

Education committee This committee organizes education for APF structures and campaigns on education issues. It ran a few workshops for APF affiliates and for the APF notably the workshop on local government. The committee did a fair amount of work on the education campaign including making submissions to the Education Department. The committee is located at Khanya College as its co-ordinator works there. Sometimes this has created some confusion with mandates and lines of accountability which need the APF’s attention. A possible solution is for Khanya College to affiliate formally to the APF then lines of communication and accountability might be better clarified. On the whole this committee has done a good job and is currently working with Keep Left to conduct the long-awaited workshop on socialism.

Research committee This committee did its work well producing and publishing 2 pieces of research on pre-paid water meters. The studies were conducted in Orange Farm and in Phiri. The research committee also set up a sub-committee on HIV/AIDS thus developing a campaign area the APF has long wanted to work in. The research committee has received requests from other structures of the APF to investigate certain questions such as those related to the coming local government elections. The team has responded well to these requests.

Housing committee This committee was formed after a workshop and from day one was a joint committee with the LPM. The plan was to conduct some research, take up a few housing up problems, connect some struggles and then launch a housing campaign in 2005. This was not to be as comrades in the executive committee raised certain APF procedural objections in relation to joint work with the LPM. This killed the co-operation and left the committee drifting for a while. The committee found its feet preparing its submission to the APF platform committee. The committee meets regularly and requires strong support and direction which unfortunately was not recently not forthcoming. This will be addressed by the organization in the near future.

6.3 Staff

During the period under review Comrade Teboho, the APF administrator, left her post for 4 months to have a baby. The baby boy Nkhesang is the first APF baby. Congratulations! During her absence Comrade Mzamo, from the Vaal region, was appointed to replace her temporarily. He did a good job but did not do so well with keeping good administrative and financial records.

The office bearers and staff arranged and received training in basic accounting principles and bookkeeping. This was in response to the War on Want suggestion that all the office bearers should take fuller responsibility finances and not leave this job to the treasurer. This training was carried out by Comrade Debbie of Ditsela, an NGO specializing in this type of training for the trade unions. All the office bearers and one staff members attended the 2-day training course. The secretary of the APF also received training in basic computer use and a typing course was purchased for him to help him do his work better. Our new treasurer, Comrade Jabulile, also received on-the-job training on handling finances supervised by Comrade John, our chairperson who has some experience in these matters. There is a plan to send Comrade Jabulile to War on Want offices in England where she can learn more about APF finances from that end. Hopefully this plan will materialize soon as there has been some correspondence between War on Want and the APF on this matter. Undoubtedly there is a need for the APF to train its office bearers and other leaders in order to improve its capacity to manage the organization, in particular, there is a need to train comrades in financial management and skills.

7. Use of finances

The APF has continued with its policy of judicious use of financial resources albeit this time there were some hiccups with accounting. The APF has managed to diversify its funding sources by receiving additional funding from Oxfam Canada and the South Africa Development Foundation. War on Want, however, remain the main donor funders of the APF and we are very grateful for this. Having 3 funders, including winning a cash award for its work from the Tites Foundation, has made the APF richer but complicated its accounting procedures somewhat. The office bearers are discussing the setting up of parallel accounting procedures which will make the task of allocating expenditure to funders quicker and easier.

The APF did rather badly in terms of submitting its reports in time during the period under review. This was due to the following reasons:

· the process of allocating expenditures to different funders took longer than anticipated · the APF administrator was on maternity leave for 4 months and her replacement did not keep the same high level of financial recording efficiency which the APF is used to · the APF treasurer, Comrade Miselo Bayi, resigned abruptly leaving the APF without a treasurer for 4 months; this coincided with the absence of our administrator · the inability of the deputy-treasurer, Comrade Phineas Malapele, to take over as treasurer or perform a holding operation due to work pressure as a trade unionist · late detection of these problems by the organization

The APF is very sorry and apologises to War on Want, Comic Relief and other people affected by this delay. Vigorous steps are being taken to make sure that this does not happen again in the future. So far the APF has maintained a more or less immaculate record in respect of financial accountability and integrity in the use of donor funding. We will do our utmost best to overcome those obstacles which might lead to this record being blighted.

The APF again found itself spending a lot more than anticipated in transport. This has been due to increased activity by its affiliates which requires transport. South Africa has virtually no public transport system and after dusk (about 6 p.m.) transport gets very unreliable it is available at all. The price of fuel hit the roof in South Africa during the period under review. The APF continues to search for ways of doing things with a view to avoiding transport costs (such as holding events nearer to communities); the APF also encourages its affiliates to build relationships with local transport operators hoping this can help reduce prices. Some of the over-expenditure in transport has been transferred to the APF’s other funders thus allowing us to keep within budget in the War on Want accounting report on the transport line item.

8. Recommendations

The APF, based on the above assessment, needs to tighten up on the following:

· Financial management and reporting

The APF needs to ensure that it keeps meticulous records of all its financial transactions, enforces observation of organizational financial policy and reports timeously to its funders.

· Monitoring system to be put in place

Regular monitoring of its work, say on a quarterly basis, against a set of criteria and measures drawn up in agreement with its main funder is necessary.

· Staff training and capacitation of comrades to be improved

The APF needs to pay greater attention towards identifying training needs among its staff, office bearers and other leading layers in the organization and conducting the necessary training.

· Provide a focus for the work of the affiliates

The APF has already decided to use the coming local government elections as a focal point for activities engaged in by itself and its affiliates. The next step is to develop a programme of action to carry this work forward.

· Rise up to the challenge of the local government elections

How the APF intervenes in the coming local government elections will be important for future work and struggles. This is a challenge the APF needs to take up including the decision by some affiliates to run candidates.

· Strengthening the affiliates

The APF needs to pay attention to its weaker affiliates providing resource and political support where necessary. All affiliates must be brought to a certain general standard of organizational development and daily practice.

9. Conclusion

The APF comes to the end of the 3 year Comic Relief funding project a strong organization albeit with some weaknesses. There is no doubt that the APF has made its mark as an organization fighting and campaigning on issues facing the working class and the poor. It has built a modicum of respect for itself among the masses and has forced the powers that be to respect and be wary of it. The last mile of the 3 year project was proverbially the hardest. There have been many hiccups in reporting and related matters but with the submission of all reports, including this one, and the video, we should all happily wrap up the project and know that we have successfully finished the race.

The APF would like to thank the staff at War on Want and our allies at Comic Relief for their generosity and trust. It needs vision to see that advocacy and campaigning work is sometimes as important as bringing milk to the starving children albeit with benefits less easy to ascribe to the work of a project. We have had a great working relationship and we hope our work has earned the trust and confidence you showed us, Comrades Guillermo, Lies, Wendy and many others. We look forward to working together in the new project. Thank you. Aluta continua!

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