Liv Shange back to stir up trouble in mining sector

Liv Shange organising revolt
Liv Shange organising revolt

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.

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 R12 500 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.

President Jacob Zuma also recently hit out at “shadowy international elements and movements” for stirring up trouble on the platinum mines.

Mantashe told an audience in Sandton in June that events like Marikana were the result of “anarchy, anarchy, anarchy, driven by people who are from far away…Sweden, Irish”.

Irish Socialist Party MP Joe Higgins has had long had ties to South Africa’s labour movement, and was present earlier this year when the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) was launched.

Comments made to the Sunday Independent by anonymous officials within police, intelligence and Home Affairs suggests a targeted probing of Shange’s revolutionary activities.

The Swedish national met her black husband, Xolani Shange, in Belgium in 2002. They were both attending the world congress of the Committee for a Workers’ International.

She was a member of a Swedish socialist group at the time, while Xolani was attending the event as a delegate for South Africa’s Democratic Socialist Movement. She moved to SA to ‘study’, but her aim was to start a revolutionary movement.

Shange enrolled for a BA in Zulu and Economic History at the University of KwaZulu Natal in January 2004. By December she had married to Xolani Shange, and thus entitled to a spousal visa.

Shange admits that she played a central part in the organising of mineworkers in Rustenburg last year, saying that she and other members of the DSM played the role of “unifier and coordinator”, linking up workers’ committees at different mining houses and bringing Rustenburg workers together with striking mineworkers in Gauteng and Limpopo. “We contributed towards harnessing the strength of the strike action by linking the workers together and coordinating the action,” she says.

Shange was mugged in 2010, and her passport – with her spousal permit inside – was stolen. When she applied for a transfer of her spousal permit, Home Affairs informed her that there was no record of such a document existing, and that her continuing presence in South Africa was illegal. Her re-application for an extension of the permit was denied, she says, and she has heard nothing since from her appeal against this decision and re-lodging of the application.

The Sunday Independent reported that Swedish diplomats had protested against the government’s comments. Shange denies that she appealed for assistance from the Swedish embassy, but it seems that they offered it anyway.

In fact, the Swedish embassy was instructed by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to lodge the complaint, according to some reports.

According to Section 29 of the Immigration Act, anyone who has been convicted for genocide, terrorism, human trafficking, and similarly serious crimes, can be prohibited from entering the country. Alternatively, the Minister of Home Affairs has the authority to declare an individual believed to be a danger to the country in some way an “undesirable person”.

Such a person has to receive a notification. “If you haven’t received that, you can’t be an undesirable person,” a lawyer familiar with the matter, explained. –