South Africa: ANC sees 'Swedes and Irish' behind miners' anger; Solidarity forces ANC back-down

Liv Shange returns to South Africa, July 14, 2013.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

June 27, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- According to African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe those responsible for “the anarchy that is happening in the platinum industry” are the “Swedes and Irish”. It was a comment that left many commentators dumbstruck.

Citizens of Sweden and Ireland seemed a rather strange choice as scapegoats to take the place of the former “counter revolutionaries” of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). But AMCU, certainly over the past week or two, no longer fits the scapegoat bill: the ANC has stated that that earlier pro-National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and anti-AMCU comments by prominent ANC figures have been “resolved”; that AMCU and NUM are now regarded equally.

But why the use of “Swedes and Irish”? Some commentators saw in this parallels with the apartheid government’s claims of “foreign agitators” and “white communists” being behind the mass uprisings against their regime.

The consensus view was probably summed up by mining analyst Peter Major, in a radio interview this week. He felt that Mantashe was indulging in pre-election “politicking” and should “quit trying to manufacture people from outside the country” to explain the complex problems in the industry.

The problems are indeed complex and Mantashe’s remarks probably do belong, on one level, to the category of opportunistic politicking and spin. But there is also a history involved and, especially for many members of the South African Communist Party (SACP) he conjured up a spectre from South Africa’s trade union past — and this at a time when political rivalry and fears about the 2014 election are growing.

Mantashe’s comments also seem to be part of the desire by the ANC-led alliance to try not only to mend bridges with AMCU, but to ensure that this now major player on the union front does not end up either forming or supporting a rival, leftwing workers’ party. This is a particular concern of the SACP which is formally acknowledged by the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) as “the (only) workers’ party”.

But as with most political spin, there is also an element of fact amid the fiction. So Mantashe did not have to manufacture people: a few individuals, related in some way to the platinum belt, do exist to provide a veneer of credibility to his claims.

He noted that “it is a Swedish citizen who is at the centre of the anarchy”. This was a clear reference to Liv Shange, a member of the small Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) that has been quite active helping organise workers on the platinum belt. A slight, blonde woman, she made it onto television screens and newspaper pages when, megaphone in hand, she addressed hundreds of striking miners,

Her gender and complexion made her more newsworthy that other socialists who were — and remain — more active among miners, especially in the platinum sector. Mametlwe Sebei and Elias Juba who are both more prominent in the Rustenburg area, have attracted little media attention. But, like Shange, they are members of the DSM that was, until 1996, the Marxist Workers’ Tendency (MWT) inside the ANC.

The three are also members of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), launched earlier this year. General secretary of WASP is a former South African Municipal Workers’ Union and ANC organiser, Weizman Hamilton.

There was also an Irish connection at the WASP launch in the form of Joe Higgins, a Socialist Party member of the Irish parliament who has long had connections with South Africa and the domestic union movement. The presence of Higgins and the involvement of long-time activists such as Hamilton gave WASP a degree of credibility as a potential political contender: history seemed to be repeating itself.

For some 30 years, the MWT was a thorn in the side of the ANC and formed part of a challenge to the dominance of the SACP over the main labour movement. The challenge came in the demand for an independent workers’ party. A fact, often forgotten, is that the SACP initially opposed the formation of COSATU, insisting instead that the self-exiled South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) was “the only true representative of South African workers”.

However, reality quickly overcame ideological certainty: COSATU was recognised and SACTU dissolved. But the battle about an independent workers' party only subsided after 1993.

“Now I think there is something of the ghost of the past coming to haunt them”, said Shange, speaking from her family home in northern Sweden where she is holidaying with her 14-year-old stepdaughter and her own son and daughter aged five and eight. She is booked to return to South Africa on July 14, but has been told by the South African embassy that she lacks “the proper papers”.

A former Socialist Justice Party councillor in her home town, Shange is married to a South African and has lived in South Africa for the past ten years. “I had a spousal visa that was in the passport I lost when I was mugged in 2010”, she said. Attempts to get the visa re-issued proved fruitless because “they couldn’t find my file”. She suspects she may now be a victim of political persecution, but feels that the loss of the file could just as easily be a matter of bureaucratic bungling.

Yesterday she was still trying to gain permission from the South African embassy in Stockholm to return to South Africa. “The children have to start school on July 15”, she said, adding that it was “ridiculous that any single individual or group can be responsible” for events in the mining sector.

AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa concurs: “Workers organise as workers irrespective of religious and political affiliations or whatever”, he says. AMCU, he insists, is politically non-aligned. “Politics is for politicians (although) we know our opponents would like to associate us with particular political structures to calm their guilty consciences.”

So while religious and political evangelism continues, among unionists as well as in wider society, AMCU will remain “apolitical”. “This is our position and we shall not be persuaded otherwise.”

[Terry Bell is a widely respected labour reporter and activist based in Cape Town, South Africa. His "Inside  labour" columns in Amandla! magazine and on his blog, Terry Bell Writes, are essential reading for those interested in developments in South Africa's labour movement.] 

DSM and WASP activist Liv Shange faces deportation

By Weizmann Hamilton

June 26, 2013 -- In a sinister development, ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe’s claim – made to a business forum in Sandton on June 11, 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-year-old son Nila and her husband’s 14-year-old daughter, Naledi – all of them South African 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 South Africa 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 scapegoats, 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 Julius 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 South Africa. 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 South Africa 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 KwaZulu 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 South African 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.

[Weizmann Hamilton is a coordinating committee member of WASP and general secretary of Democratic Socialist Movement.]

Repression defeated: Liv Shange back in South Africa

By Meshack Komane, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in South Africa)

July 13, 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.

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.

The threats against are part of the government’s preparations to disarm workers ahead of the major attacks the mine bosses are pushing for. 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.

Comments

Shange back 'to fight for the workers'

http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/07/15/shange-back-to-fight-for-the-workers

Shange back 'to fight for the workers'

Jul 15, 2013 | KATHARINE CHILD

Activist Liv Shange arrived back in South Africa yesterday and vowed to continue her fight for workers' rights in the mines, in the platinum belt and beyond.

Activist Liv Shange after arriving at OR Tambo International airport yesterday with her children Nomanyano, 5, and Nila, 8. She was welcomed by members of the Workers' and Socialist Party
Photograph by: LAUREN MULLIGAN

" 'I will continue to play a role as I have always done' "

She and her political party had expressed concern that she would be denied entry to South Africa after she had difficulty getting a visa and was blamed by the ANC for strife in the platinum belt.

Shange has been married to a South African for nine years and has lived here since 2003.

She is a founder of the newly formed Workers' and Socialist Party, much of the membership of which is drawn from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Shange was granted a spousal visa after her marriage in 2004 but her passport was stolen in 2010.

She has been waiting for a new visa for her passport since 2011.

She had not had difficulty travelling on the strength of her pending application until recently.

Last month Shange was fined about R2000 when she arrived in Sweden because her tourist visa had expired.

She was told by the South African embassy that she could not return to South Africa with her three children at the end of the school holidays but would have to re-apply for a spousal visa.

Shange has been singled out by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe as being behind the strife in Marikana.

"What is happening in Marikana ... I can give you what comes out of that information. Anarchy, anarchy, anarchy - driven by people who are from far away. Sweden, Irish," said Mantashe in June.

When pressed, Mantashe said: "The reality is that it is a Swedish citizen who is at the centre of anarchy in the platinum belt. I did not suck it out of my thumb."

Shange spoke out yesterday against the recent mining peace accord, saying it did not benefit the workers.

Amcu workers did not sign the agreement brokered by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Shange vowed to keep fighting for better pay for mineworkers and is joining Amcu in its demand for a minimum R12500 a month for miners.

"I will continue to play a role, as I have always done in Marikana, creating unity among mineworkers."

She slammed Matashe's comments.

"Blaming foreigners for strikes is an insult to the workers."

Shange said she was not surprised by reports that she was being investigated by state security agencies.

Liv Shange thanks petition for re-entry into SA

http://www.enca.com/south-africa/shange-relieved-be-back-sa

JOHANNESBURG - Swedish-born mining workers' rights activist Liv Shange expressed relief on Monday at being allowed back into South Africa on a tourist permit after being refused entry last month.

"It's strange and different to what I was told on June 20," the mother of three said.

"Them allowing me back is quite a turn... but I am relieved and happy that my children can go back to school on time."

Shange arrived back on Sunday ahead of the new school term.

She is a member of the Democratic Socialist Movement and the Workers' and Socialist Party (WASP), and married South African Xolani Shange in December 2004.

Shange and her children visited her parents in Sweden in June during the school holiday.

But when she attempted to get back into the country, she was turned away.

She said authorities would not even look at her documents.

"I was very upset. My main worry was that it would be protracted but I maintained hope that it will be resolved."

Now she believes the campaign which called for her re-entry into the country put pressure on home affairs officials to rethink their decision.

WASP had petitioned authorities and questioned the reasons behind the refusal as Shange had been at the forefront of organising striking mineworkers in the North West province and Gauteng.

On August 16, 34 striking miners were shot dead by police near a Lonmin platinum mine in Limpopo.

Last month ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe blamed unrest in the platinum mines on foreign nationals, and particularly singled out the Swedes and the Irish.

"What is happening in Marikana... I can give you what comes out of that information. Anarchy, anarchy, anarchy, driven by people who are from far away, Sweden, Irish," Mantashe was quoted as saying.

"They are a force behind the anarchy that is happening in the platinum industry."

Shange found it "strange" that this happened after Mantashe's comments, but stressed that she had also had a difficult time with home affairs previously.

She still has more battles ahead relating to her visa and citizenship status.

Home affairs had told her she needed to have held a temporary visa permit for over five years of marriage before gaining permanent citizenship.

But in 2010 Shange was mugged and her passport and temporary visa stolen.

"I had just completed the five years when the visa was stolen... And again I am told to get a temporary permit sorted out first before applying for permanent residence. So I've been stuck with that."

Shange has now set up a meeting with home affairs officials to deal with the problem.

-Sapa

Socialst denied permanent residence in South Africa

Witch hunt, says Swedish activist denied residence in SA

The Mercury, 23 July 2015

Gabi Falanga

A POLITICAL vendetta is at the centre of the government’s decision to deny permanent residence to Swedish socialist Liv Shange, she says.

Shange made the claim at a media briefing in Johannesburg yesterday. She said the decision would force her to leave the country with her two South African-born children. She has to leave on Monday before her temporary residence visa expires.

Shange made headlines in 2013 when ANC secretarygeneral Gwede Mantashe accused her of being “at the centre of the anarchy in the platinum belt”, following the 2012 Marikana massacre in which 34 striking miners were shot dead by police. The SACP has also accused her of fanning the strikes in Rustenburg’s platinum belt.

Shange, who at the time was the national organiser of the Democratic Socialist Movement, helped advise and coordinate striking miners who were demanding a R12 500 wage.

“The ANC itself has spelt out the issues it has with me and with Wasp (Workers and Socialist Party) and the logical conclusion is that if the opportunity presents itself, then they’ll use it to get me out of the country,” Shange said.

“How I’ve been treated by the government is a witchhunt, it’s harassment. I have been singled out over years now as responsible for anarchy, instability and deliberately wanting to destabilise the economy of the country.”

In 2013, it emerged that security agencies were probing Shange’s immigration status and her crisis.

She has been living in South Africa since 2004 when she started her studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Later that year, she married her former husband, Xolani, whom she had met at a conference in Belgium in 2002.

Shange lost her passport and spousal visa in December 2010, when she was mugged. When she went to the Department of Home Affairs, she was told there was no record of her spousal visa. This was despite being in possession of a reference number. As a result, in 2013, Shange and her children were denied entry to South Africa after a visit to her family in Sweden. She was allowed into the country after enormous international pressure, petitions and a diplomatic spat between South Africa and Sweden.

Mantashe denied that the ANC had had anything to do with the Home Affairs Department’s decision to deny Shange permanent residence.

***

Activist ‘behind anarchy’ at Marikana ‘deprived of right to stay in SA’

RDM News Wire | 20 July, 2015 11:08
Liv Shange. File photo

“The state apparatus is being used to harass and bar people that the current government may not agree with‚” Justice Malala wrote in an opinion piece in 2013.

In Liv Shange’s case‚ the government has succeeded‚ the Workers & Socialist Party (Wasp) said on Monday.

A statement from Wasp said: “After years of manoeuvring‚ victimisation and pressure the [African National Congress] government has succeeded in depriving Shange‚ executive committee member of (Wasp) and leading figure in the post-Marikana massacre strike wave‚ of her right to remain in SA.”

Full details surrounding Shange’s departure‚ the statement said‚ are to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Malala’s 2013 piece said: “Apparently‚ the Department of Home Affairs is now investigating Shange‚ who has lived here for nearly 10 years‚ and may not allow her back into the country.

“Why? There are allegedly irregularities with her residence status. Surely‚ someone in a marriage relationship with a South African - with children from the union - and a long time living in this country should not suddenly have a problem with their residence status?”

It was only after a petition was submitted in support of her return that the Swedish-born mining workers' rights activist was allowed to return to South Africa in July 2013 to be with her children so that they could start school.

Shange’s troubles started‚ Malala wrote‚ with “Gwede Mantashe‚ the ANC secretary-general‚ who accused Shange of being "behind the anarchy" at Marikana.

The Marikana massacre followed series of violent incidents between the SAPS‚ Lonmin mine security staff and the National Union of Mineworkers in 2012‚ and resulted in the deaths of 44 people.

Shange‚ who is married to a South African‚ Xolani Shange‚ is also a member of the radical Democratic Socialist Movement.

WASP: Liv Shange – A Farewell Tribute

Liv Shange – A Farewell Tribute

2012-10-17 Mponeng KDC West Mine Strike Carltoneville (113)

After nearly twelve years in South Africa, Liv Shange, Executive Committee member of the Workers and Socialist Party, is returning to her native Sweden on 27 July 2015. Reluctantly, in the face of the insurmountable obstacles the ANC government had placed in the way of her efforts to settle in SA permanently, she has had no option but to leave to fight for her right to permanent residence from outside the country. This is not so much a defeat as a setback – a decision forced upon her and WASP for political reasons.

She leaves with great regret but also pride. She has invested so many years of what became her most important formative years politically in SA, sunk so many personal roots, and brought up her children here. But she also established, in the closing chapter of her life in SA, a political profile and reputation that is unparalleled for any white female socialist revolutionary in the post-apartheid era.

Over the past decade in SA, it was particularly the last three years – the most tumultuous years in the country’s post-apartheid history – that have been the most rewarding.  From the relative obscurity of being a socialist councillor in a small northern Swedish town she came to adorn the front and editorial pages of SA’s major newspapers, appeared on numerous radio interviews including African language ones, became the subject of investigative programme Carte Blanche, and was even given ‘celebrity’ status in a women’s magazine.

Fittingly, she has had many bouquets bestowed upon her and, unsurprisingly a few brickbats. Two in particular stand out: her designation as one of SA’s foremost socialist activists by Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of the former SA president Thabo Mbeki, and her denunciation by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe who alleged she had incited the mineworkers to strike thus causing “chaos” on the mines. This insult was directed at Liv but, like a ricocheting bullet hit Mantashe himself. His portrayal of the mineworkers as incapable of understanding their slavery and acting only because a white Swedish woman told them too, betrayed the contempt he held the mineworkers in. Liv will probably treasure Mantashe’s loathing and carry it with pride.

It was the hysterical attack on Liv by Mantashe – who must be drawing satisfaction over Liv’s forced departure – that led directly to the government’s humiliating climb down after its attempt to prevent her from returning to SA from a visit to her family in Sweden. The Committee for a Workers International’s (CWI) magnificent international campaign that unleashed a deluge of protest letters and demonstrations at SA embassies in countries worldwide forced the Home Affairs minister to take the unprecedented step of issuing a directive to all ports of entry that Liv be allowed to re-enter the country without let or hindrance.

Arrival in SA

DSCF2034
The journey of Liv’s still young life confirms the adage popular amongst socialists, that the personal is political. She fell in love with her South African partner at the World Congress of the CWI in 2002, delegates respectively of the Swedish and SA sections.

 

So it is not SA that provided the foundations for Liv’s ideological outlook or political convictions. Her native Sweden takes the credit for that. She arrived in SA having the benefit of her political training in the Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (Socialist Justice Party) – Swedish section of the CWI and one of its co-founders and most experienced affiliates – for whom she had been a full-time cadre.

Using her political experience and exceptional talents, she made an immediate difference to the DSM’s work. Enrolled at the University of KZN to study BA Zulu & Economic History, from where she graduated summa cum laude and fluent in IsiZulu, she set about, with the support of her partner, developing the DSM’s student work.

Her first major assignment was to assist in the establishment of the Socialist Student Movement (predecessors of the Socialist Youth Movement) at the University of KwaZulu Natal. The SSM stood in the Student Representative Council elections and won a seat – the first genuine socialist student formation to do so at any university in the country. Under Liv’s leadership the SSM was to lead the first demonstration through the streets of Durban for free education under the ANC’s neo-liberal education policy. All of this was achieved despite the political hostility that SSM and Liv personally attracted, being subjected to racist and sexist abuse by leaders of the Progressive Youth Alliance of the SA Student Congress, the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League.

Having earned her spurs in Durban she was deployed to DSM’s Johannesburg head office as our first political full-timer. One of the many talents she brought to the editorial board of the DSM’s paper Izwi Labasebenzi (now the organ of WASP) was the lay-out of the paper – a skill entirely self-taught – and translating articles into isiZulu, giving the paper a much more politically effective profile.

Preparing for the earthquake

IMG_3146
The entire period of her life in SA before the Marikana earthquake had prepared her for the intervention she made so effectively amongst mineworkers with fellow WASP leader Mametlwe Sebei.  Alone on the left, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) had foreseen that it would be in the mining industry that the first major rebellion against the Cosatu leadership was likely to break out. The ideological and political degeneration of the Cosatu leadership was expressed most sharply in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). It had evolved into a yellow union, the leadership’s class collaboration with the bosses sinking to the level where NUM leaders could not meet with their own members without carrying firearms.

 

From the shocking accounts of the NUM’s role we drew the conclusion that the chain of illusions binding the workers to Cosatu, the most important partner in the Tripartite Alliance, was likely to break at its strongest link – the NUM, at the time the biggest, richest and politically most influential of the federation’s affiliates, led moreover by SA Communist Party central committee members.

Three years before Marikana, with the scantiest of resources, the DSM had responded enthusiastically to the appeal by the Murray & Roberts workers for assistance in the struggle for the reinstatement of 4000 workers dismissed for ‘illegally’ continuing a strike that the NUM leaders had betrayed.

Marikana

To the attempt to drown their strike in blood at the Marikana massacre, the mineworkers responded by turning what began as a wage strike into a political uprising. Liv and Mametlwe secured support for the DSM’s call for a Rustenburg-wide general strike, brought the independent strike committees from all mines together into the All-Rustenburg Coordinating Strike Committee, and then campaigned to have the surrounding community drawn into a Rustenburg Workers and Community Forum.

The strike ignited a countrywide mine workers movement beyond the North West province, drawing in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Northern Cape leading to the establishment of a National Strike Committee.  It electrified the entire working class including, famously, the most downtrodden – the Western Cape farm workers – who just a few months late copied the methods of struggle used by the mineworkers.

The Marikana massacre was the most important political event in post-apartheid history with comrades Liv and Mametlwe in the forefront of the movement that it triggered, translating the workers’ political conclusions into action. Liv was at the meeting on 15 December 2012 in Limpopo when the DSM and representatives of six mineworkers’ strike committees agreed to form the Workers and Socialist Party. WASP was launched on Sharpeville Day, 21 March 2013 – the first consciously socialist party formed directly out of workers struggle and registered to contest elections in the post-apartheid period.

Both the decisions of Numsa’s historic December 2013 resolutions to form a workers party, a united front and a movement for socialism as well as the birth of the EFF had their basis in the objective political situation. But it is no exaggeration to say that WASP’s presence on the political plane and its bold socialist stance provided an ideological and political point of reference for the Numsa delegates and compelled the EFF to dress its populist policies in anti-capitalist clothing.

The struggle continues

Political developments in SA are headed in the direction of a mass workers party. That is the inescapable conclusion from developments firstly and foremostly in Numsa, as well as the deepening divisions in the ANC, the implosion of Cosatu, the insistent demand from within the SACP for it to stand independently and the attempted reinvention of the Democratic Alliance.

WASP will continue to contribute to the unification of the struggles of the working class in its three main theatres – service delivery protests, workplace struggles and the battles of the youth – with the aim of bringing them together in a mass workers party on a socialist programme.

In the meantime, as a socialist and internationalist, Liv will re-enter the struggle for socialism on the same front from which she had taken indefinite leave more than a decade ago at a time when as events in Greece show, the class struggle is poised to reach new heights in Europe.

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