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About this virtual exhibition


This virtual exhibition draws on an oral history and document collection project on the South African social movement, the Anti- Privatisation Forum (APF), undertaken by the South African History Archive (SAHA) in 2010 and 2011. In line with SAHA’s commitment to capture neglected histories within South Africa and contest ‘histories from above’, this project aimed to record stories of the APF’s struggles for justice in direct response to the political and socio-economic conditions in which many poor communities have found themselves in the post-1994 era.

This project follows on from a previously successful and well-received oral history project - ‘Forgotten Voices in the Present: Post-1994 oral histories from three poor communities in South Africa' - that was conducted from 2007-2009. What that project confirmed was the need, and indeed imperative, to record and archive the post-1994 stories / histories of people and organisations from poor communities. Such ‘histories from below' are important components of not only new (more recent) recorded history of the South African transition but of contesting the dominant, ‘histories from above', form of transitional history recording and telling.

It is within such a context that the need for a more specific focus on organised, community-based, social movements that have arisen in the post-1994 era was identified. These social movements are a direct response to the political and socio-economic conditions within which poor communities have found themselves. Despite the fact that many such movements have been in existence for years, have produced a large amount of organisational, campaign and media material and have had a great deal of research, advocacy activity, academic and intellectual analysis, as well as journalistic writing focused on them, there exists no formal archives of such community-based social movements and their community components nor corresponding written and oral histories.

However, it was immediately recognised that it would be practically impossible to embark on a project that attempted to cover all such post-1994 social movements. Due to researcher Dale McKinley's own long-time involvement in, and familiarity with, the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), as well as the fact that its dominant Gauteng provincial base makes for more manageable use of limited human and financial resources, it was decided that the APF would be the best choice for such a project.


Project purpose

There were four main practical components:

• To collect and produce a formal electronic and hard copy archive of all available material from within the APF and its community affiliates, as well as material on / about the APF from outside the movement;

• To produce a formally archived collection of oral histories (in audio and written formats) from selected APF and associated community affiliate leaders / activists / members;

• To produce a brief written history of the APF consisting of a critically informed paper based on the collected archive along with selected excerpts from the oral histories recorded;

• To identity and submit a range of PAIA (‘Promotion of Access to Information Act’) requests, in relation to the work of the APF and its community affiliates, In doing so, the project attempted to present the first, comprehensive and multi-form history of one of South Africa’s key post-1994 social movements. As such it has provided a formal, archival repository that is an important and positive contribution to social movement researchers, activists, community residents, academics, politicians and government officials. As was the case with the Forgotten Voices project, this goes a long way in contesting ‘outsider’ and purely academic / analytical ‘histories’ as well as organisational / struggle perspectives of the APF and its various community based affiliates.


Project scope

Besides the more ‘straightforward’ task of collecting and recording various materials of, and about, the APF, the approach to gathering oral histories from selected APF leaders, activists, and members was designed to explore the following areas / issues:

• general personal and APF movement / community organisational history;

• basic demands and issues engaged; movement / organisation strategy and tactics;

• responses from the state / government;

• relations with political parties and other social movements and / or community organisations;

• levels and content of political and social activism; and,

• key problems, challenges, failures and successes both organisationally and politically.

Underlying these is the larger area / issue of the ways in which the history and development of the APF and / or community affiliate has been shaped / affected by the dominant (macro) post-1994 political and socio-economic trajectory in South Africa.

For each specific component:

Material archive: All available materials and documents of the APF and its community affiliates, alongside materials produced (i.e. news / media, research and academic) on the APF and its affiliates have been collected, collated / organised and placed in SAHA's archival collection on the APF. These materials / documents include: organisational / political and administrative reports, minutes of meetings, research reports, discussion documents, press statements, interviews, academic / research articles and essays, media articles, pamphlets, ephemera (e.g., t-shirts, posters), video / audio productions and raw footage.

Oral history archive: Selected APF and community affiliate leaders / members / activists were identified and interviewed. All interviews have been digitally (audio) recorded - in English and transcribed into a written format. The interviews – both in written and audio forms – have been collated / organised and placed in SAHA's archival collection on the APF.

Written history: Utilising the archival materials collected, alongside excerpts from the oral histories, a report entitled 'Transition's Child' was produced. This report includes a brief history of the APF, with substantive extracts from interviews with APF activists and leaders, organized thematically to surface the history of the social movement, its campaigns and activities, and to explore both the strengths and weaknesses inherent in such movements. The report is accompanied by a CD of this virtual exhibition.

PAIA requests: Selected areas / issues relevant for PAIA requests (flowing out of information and issues from both the archival material and oral history archives collected) have been identified and recorded. In conjunction with the APF and the relevant community affiliates, SAHA has begun a process of filing PAIA information requests to secure records relating to the history of the APF, or relevant to their advocacy work. This is an ongoing component of the project with released documents being made available within SAHA’s archival Freedom of Information Programme collection and through the APF virtual exhibition as and when they become available.


Biography of Dr. Dale McKinley

Dale was involved in the predecessor to the APF (the Anti-Igoli Forum) during 1999-2000 and was one of the co-founders of the APF when it was formally launched in 2000. During the first two years of the APF, Dale was an ordinary member of the APF Activist Forum. In 2002 Dale became the APF media officer-spokesperson and coordinator of the media sub-committee (a position he occupied until early 2010).

During the same year he also became the media officer-spokesperson for the newly formed Social Movements Indaba (SMI - a position he occupied until 2008). As media co-ordinator, Dale sat on the APF Office Bearers collective from 2002-2005 as an ex-officio member and helped write and produce a quarterly APF newsletter.

In 2003 Dale became a co-founder of the APF-initiated Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) and acted as its media officer-spokesperson as well as legal liaison until 2010. In 2007, Dale was elected as the Treasurer of the APF after he had previously acted - during 2006 - in the capacity of interim Treasurer. He served in this position until 2010.

At the APF's 2010 AGM (April) Dale declined to run for re-election and thus stepped down as an Office Bearer. He remained an ordinary member of the APF until late 2010 when its structures and leadership collective effectively ceased to operate.

Throughout the ten years that Dale was an activist and leader of the APF, SMI and CAWP, he represented the organisation at a number of national and international meetings/conferences, gave numerous public talks/speeches on behalf of the APF as well as wrote and published many educational, academic and media articles and essays on related struggles and debates.

 


 

Acknowledgements

Project concept: Dale McKinley and Catherine Kennedy

Oral history collection: Dale McKinley (with Ahmed Veriava)

Document collection: Dale McKinley

'Transition's Child' Report: Dale McKinley

Project management: Catherine Kennedy

Archival support: Debora Matthews

Design and layout (report): Rizelle Stander Hartmeier

Design and layout (virtual exhibition): Black Square

Compilation of virtual exhibition: Catherine Kennedy and Nelson Dlamini

Physical exhibition team: Catherine Kennedy and Vaughn Sadie

SAHA thanks those activists from the APF and APF-affiliates who generously gave of their time to be interviewed for

this project. This project, including the development of this publication and the virtual exhibition, was made possible through

the financial support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Altlantic Philanthropies.

You may copy materials from this report and the associated CD for use in non-profit programmes and publications

if you acknowledge the source.

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