25 June 2013

by Weizmann Hamilton

In a sinister development, ANC General Secretary, Gwede Mantashe’s claim – made to a business forum in Sandton on Tuesday 11th June, 2013 — that foreigners from Sweden and Ireland were behind what he described as “anarchy in Marikana”, has been followed by an attempt to throw leading Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) activist, Liv Shange, a Swedish citizen married to a South African, out of the country.

Comrade Liv is currently in Sweden on a visit to her family together with her five-year old daughter, Nomanyano, her eight-years-old son Nila, and her husband’s 14 year old daughter, Naledi –all of them SA citizens. She has had to learn from The Sunday Independent newspaper and radio bulletins that she is under a “security and immigration investigation” by the Department of Home Affairs for allegedly being in the country illegally.

Responsibility for any difficulties with comrade Liv’s immigration status lie entirely with the Department of Home Affairs, a matter she has been trying to resolve for a number of years now. The weekend’s developments suggest that what has obstructed the resolution of the matter is not Home Affairs’ legendary incompetence, but something much more sinister – the abuse of state resources for the purposes of a political witch-hunt.

Upon her return from an overseas trip in 2011, immigration officials stamped a tourist visa into the temporary passport she used following the theft of her passport in a mugging despite the fact that she had been issued with a two-year spousal visa in 2009. Upon receipt of her full passport she applied for the transfer of the spousal visa that had been stamped into her stolen passport into the replacement passport. The DHA claimed that they had no record of her spousal visa on their system – only the now expired tourist visa and compelled her to admit to staying illegally in SA by paying an admission of guilt fine, in order to be allowed to apply for an ‘extension’ of her spousal visa and thereby avoid deportation. The R1000 fine set by the Durban DHA was reduced to R100 by the magistrate. Though Liv complied with all requirements imposed by the DHA, her extension application was rejected because there ‘was no existing permit’ and the ‘admin fine was too low’. She was then advised tp appeal against the rejection, which she did with a supporting statement from a DHA official confirming that her application for the transfer of her spousal visa had been improperly rejected. This was coupled with registering a new extension application. This, she was assured, changed her status from ‘rejected’ to ‘pending’. However, nearly two years have passed without a response to the appeal, nor to several queries Liv has lodged with the DHA.

Mantashe’s statement is reckless, irresponsible, and should be withdrawn. It is a disgrace that a senior leader of the ANC, a movement whose struggle against apartheid was supported by “foreigners” worldwide, especially from Sweden, in the spirit of international solidarity should invoke xenophobia as part of a political attack. It is insulting not only to comrade Liv but also the mineworkers  to describe as “anarchy”   their battle for higher wages, decent living conditions, against retrenchments and the  rebellion against the treachery of the National Union of Mineworkers.. Mantashe apparently believes that the mineworkers are incapable of apprehending their own conditions and acting to free themselves from slavery. They need to be instigated. This is what the apartheid regime used to say about the black oppressed and activists like Mantashe himself.

The manipulation of immigration laws, the denunciation of the exercise of the constitutional right to strike and freedom of association – which includes the right to reject a union that colludes with the bosses – are further confirmation of the ANC’s growing infatuation with the methods of the apartheid regime as was so bloodily demonstrated in the Marikana massacre.

Comrade Liv is only the latest in a long line of scape goats, the ANC government, the South African Communist Party and some Cosatu leaders have blamed for the heroic uprising of the mineworkers last year. They have pointed fingers at Malema, the Pondoland vigilante mafia, sangomas, and now the DSM, WASP and comrade Liv.

Comrade Liv, a life-long socialist, was an elected councillor in Sweden before emigrating to SA. Her real crime is supporting the struggle of the mineworkers for decent wages and democratic unions. If Mantashe was genuinely concerned about foreigners destabilising the mining industry, he need look no further than the international investors in the platinum industry who are exerting relentless pressure on the mining companies to cause anarchy by retrenching tens of thousands of workers. He should support our demand for the nationalisation of the mines under the democratic control and management of the working class.

Comrade Liv has been resident in SA since January 2004, and married to South African Xolani Shange since December 2004. She completed her BA degree in Zulu and economic history at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal in 2007, passing summa cum laude. She is a leading member of the DSM. To debar her from returning to what is now her home, and separate her from her children who are all SA citizens and who need to return to school, would amount to a human rights abuse. We demand that comrade Liv be issued with a spousal visa and allowed to apply for permanent residence.

Please send protest:

To the Department of Home Affairs, (mkuseli.apleni@dha.gov.za, info@dha.gov.za)

To the Minister of Home Affairs Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor (carmen.h@dha.gov.za)

To the African National Congress (sngubane@anc.org.za)


Repression Defeated: Liv Shange Back in South Africa

A Victory for the Whole Working Class

15 July 2013

On Sunday July 14, Liv Shange was able to return to South Africa. She had been threatened to be kept out of the country because of the political role she played in the mineworkers’ struggle. The Workers and Socialist Party launched the Liv Shange Defence Campaign to put pressure on the authorities against this threat. So far they had to back off and let Liv and her three children back in.

Background

On Tuesday June 11, shortly before Liv left South Africa for a family visit to Sweden, African National Congress (ANC) General Secretary Gwede Mantashe stated to a business forum in Sandton that foreigners from Sweden and Ireland were behind what he described as “anarchy in Marikana”. This was followed by an attempt to throw leading Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) activist, Liv Shange, a Swedish citizen married to a South African, out of the country.

Mantashe was referring to the role the DSM and Liv amongst others were playing in the mineworkers’ strikes last year. They helped the mineworkers to set up their own strike committees and coordinate them in the National Strike Committee. The Workers and Socialist Party, which will stand in the next general elections and aims to unify workers and community struggles was born out Marikana and the committees. Both the mineworkers and WASP seem to be a constant pain in Mantashes neck, which he tries to overcome with repression.

But the attack on Liv Shange was not an isolated act. There is a low intensity civil war going on in the mines including suspension of shop stewards, harassment of trade union activists and court proceedings against trade unions. Additionally the expulsion of the Tlokwe ANC Councillors who ousted a corrupt major shows how the ANC government deals with political opponents inside and outside the ANC. Thisdefeat of the repression against Liv Shange is a victory for everybody facing repression in the country.

Liv Shange Defence Campaign

The Liv Shange Defence Campaign collected hundreds of signatures from different organisations, activists and trade unions. Many signatures were collected on the mines of Rustenburg and Carletonville. Well known people like the author Don Materra declared their support for Liv Shange. People from all over the country and internationally sent letters to the Department of Home Affairs. Among them was also a letter by the Irish Member of the European Parliament who also replied to Mantashes allegations.

On Sunday, after a long and nervous wait, a large group of WASP comrades, community and trade union activists, gave Liv a warm welcome. During the jubilant celebration of this victory, Liv was even hoisted up in the air by members of the Amplats workers committee.

The concession that has been won is that Liv was allowed back into SA, for now on a three-month visitor’s permit. She is engaging with Department of Home Affairs to resolve the issue of her immigration status. The struggle to counter the threat of abusing the powers of the Department of Home Affairs to exile Liv will continue.

The authorities have made a u-turn in the last few days, after saying I would have to wait in Sweden for them to approve my return to SA, and that is thanks to the pressure of the campaign, says Liv

I’m not intimidated and will continue to together with my comrades support the struggles of the mineworkers and working class communities.

An injury to Liv is an injury to all was written on the posters at the airport. Thus a victory for Liv is a victory for all. The left, trade unions and communities must now unite against all repression confronting them and discuss a strategy how to fight the governments and mine-bosses policies.