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.