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
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
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
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
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
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
Witch hunt, says Swedish activist denied residence in SA
The Mercury, 23 July 2015
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
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
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
Shange‚ who is married to a South African‚ Xolani Shange‚ is also
a member of the radical Democratic Socialist Movement.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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