Cape Town

A Brief History of South Africa’s Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (1919-1931)

ICU membership card

The Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) – a trade union, rural peasant movement, and urban squatters’ movement – formed on the docks in Cape Town in 1919. Within a decade, the ICU had expanded across Southern Africa without regard for national borders and counted people from various African countries and the Caribbean in its leadership, as well as people who were Indian and mixed race. The largely forgotten history of the ICU is well worth recovering in a time of escalating chauvinism and xenophobia. Our Dossier #20 offers an introduction to this extraordinary popular movement.

No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way

Voices from Symphony Way

Early in 2007 hundreds of families living in shacks in Cape Town were moved into houses they had been waiting for since the end of apartheid. But soon they were told that the move had been illegal and they were kicked out of their new homes. They built shacks next to the road opposite the housing project and hundreds organised themselves into the Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign, vowing to stay on the road until the government gave them permanent housing. This book comes out of that occupation.

On the politics of protest in Cape Town

Jared Sacks on popular protest, disruption, and violence in South Africa in the wake of the Lonmin Massacre.

Blikkiesdorp photo gallery

Symphony Way - the central site of resistence to forced removal to Blikkiesdorp

Blikkiesdorp (i.e. 'tin can town) is one of a number of 'Temporary Relocation Areas', concentration camps, set up to house the urban poor in Cape Town. There are similar abominations in Johannesburg and Durban. This photo gallery has some pictures of Blikkiesdorp as well as the Symphony Way Occupation - which held out against eviction to Blikkiesdorp for many months before being defeated.

Cape Town: Attempt to occupy Rondebosch Common

Yesterday more than forty people were arrested in a major police operation to prevent the occupation of the Rondebosch Common in an elite suburb of Cape Town - the most unequal city in South Africa, which has now surpassed Brazil as the most unequal country in the world.

Anarchism and syndicalism in an African port city: the revolutionary traditions of Cape Town's multiracial working class, 1904-1931 - Lucien van der Walt

The Cape Town docks in 1919, site of the joint strike between the syndicalist In

A paper by Lucien van der Walt examining the development of anarchism and syndicalism in Cape Town, South Africa in the early twentieth century and the then pioneering multiracial and determinedly internationalist stance of those anti-authoritarians involved.

The Cape Town model, state violence and military urbanism


A Mike Davis style analysis of Cape Town, South Africa's most unequal city, from a libertarian perspective There are more photographs here.

Two Reports from Occupy South Africa

Two reports from Occupy South Africa from a libertarian perspective.

The Land belongs to the People: The Government of Cape Town Violates the Rights of the Poor

Carmen Ludwig on the struggle from Cape Town - appropriation from below and repression from above.

The Politic of Land & Housing

This is the full text of a talk given by S'bu Zikode to a group of students from the University of Chicago at the University of Cape Town today. Zikode is the leader of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a militant but very thoughtful, creative and democratic squatters' movement which is the largest social movement to have emerged in post-apartheid South Africa.