South African authorities have made a vicious attack and unwarranted attack on Liv Shange, an organiser of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – the South African section of the Committee for a Workers’ International. They have threatened to prevent her from returning to the country after visiting her family in Sweden with her three children.
She is clearly being victimised by the ANC-led government for the role she and the DSM have played in the mineworkers’ strikes last year and in the building of a new alternative party - the Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP). These threats are part of a series of attacks made recently on mineworkers and trade union activists. The DSM and WASP will not let this attack pass in silence.
Two days after Liv Shange left South Africa to visit her family in Sweden, the South African Newspaper, the Sunday Independent published an article claiming to have received information from the South African Department of Home Affairs that Liv was being investigated by them and by state intelligence. The article stated that this is linked to the role she played in the mineworkers’ strike last year. The ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, had already accused “foreigners” from places like Sweden and Ireland for promoting “anarchy” in the mines when he spoke to mining managers two weeks ago. (follow this link)
Liv and the members of the DSM supported the mineworkers’ strikes last year. They helped to set up and link strike committees of different shafts and mines together in the National Strike Committee which subsequently developed into the National Workers’ Committee. It was also out of the mineworkers’ independent committees that the call came for a new workers’ party leading to the founding of WASP. Liv has learned to speak fluent Zulu and has addressed many workers’ mass meetings, becoming a well-known face in the struggle.
Longstanding member of DSM
Liv Shange moved to South Africa in 2004. She is married to a South African and has three children with her in Sweden but due to return to school for the second semester which begins on July 15. Before moving to South Africa, Liv was active in the Swedish sister organisation of the DSM, Ratviserpartiet Socialisterna and was an elected councillor in the northern town of Lulea. Throughout her time in South Africa she has been actively involved in campaigning as part of the DSM and is now a leading member of the organisation.
The investigations referred to in the article, following on from the public attacks on the DSM by the ANC general secretary, Gwede Mantashe, are clear attempts to scapegoat the DSM for the resistance which the bosses face in the mines.
It appears that there is political interference in the Department of Home Affairs which has taken advantage of the absurd complications which have beset Liv’s attempts to reside regularly with her family in South Africa. Liv’s passport with her spousal visa was stolen when she was mugged in late 2010 – causing difficulties which it now appears the authorities are trying to exploit against her. Home Affairs claimed not to have any record of her spousal permit issuing her with a tourist visa instead. With the long and frustrating process of resolving the ensuing complications still pending, the basic legal position remains that Liv, as the wife of a South African citizen, should have every right to come back to the country together with the children.
Liv has been active in the struggle for genuine, democratic socialism all her life, in South Africa as well as in Sweden. Like all members of the DSM, she stands for the building of democratic, worker-controlled trade unions which are prepared to take on the necessary battles with the bosses. She works for the revival of working class fighting traditions and for taking forward the struggle for the socialist transformation of society. She sees this as the only way out of the capitalist dead-end – nothing to do with Mantashe’s “anarchy”, by the way. Liv has seen the ANC order guns to be used against workers at Marikana and elsewhere. Her right, and that of millions more, to criticise the government without fear of reprisal must be honoured.
Protest and solidarity
This attack on the DSM and the mineworkers is not isolated. Mining bosses recently tried to suspend worker-activists who were involved in the strikes of last year. Various attempts have been made to discredit the DSM in the eyes of the workers. But workers see through the propaganda of the capitalist media and they know that an injury to one is an injury to all. Mineworkers, trade unionists and left activists will come out in protest against any attack on Liv Shange if the Ministry of Home Affairs continues to threaten her with a deportation order.
The Committee for a Workers’ International urges workers and socialists of all countries to condemn with international protests this victimisation of a dedicated activist and the threats against Liv Shange in particular and the DSM as a whole.
You can use the model letter of protest below:
I/we have heard with great concern, and wish to protest against the threat of deportation from South Africa of Liv Shange. Liv is a genuine honest fighter for working class interests in South Africa. She has been living in the country since 2004 and has founded a family there, now threatened with being pulled apart by the deportation.
As a leading Democratic Socialist Movement activist, Liv has played a role supporting the recent miners’ strikes and the founding of the Workers’ and Socialist Party. Given the latest speech by Gwede Mantashe against foreigners who cause “anarchy” in the mining sector, I/we believe that the investigation into Liv’s legal status is politically motivated.
I/we urge you to give Liv Shange to her full legal right to return to South Africa and all the necessary documentation to live in the country without threat of expulsion. I/we will publicly protest and support Liv Shange against any victimisation over her political activity.