June, 2013

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Campaign for Liv Shange takes off

Mineworkers strike, DSM and WASP activist Liv Shange is threatened with a deportation act. This is not only an attack against a WASP member but against the working class movement as a whole and the miners in particular. WASP launched the Liv Shange Defence Campaign and calls on everybody to sign the Online-Petition.

Within two days already more than 330 people signed the Petition and declared support. (List of supporters) In Capetown activists against the Obama visit honoured Liv Shange with the Freedom of Cape-Town award. The author Don Mattera who was living many years in Sweden declared his support for the Liv Shange Defence Campaign.

Member of the European Parliament Paul Murphy wrote a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs: Dept of Home Affairs_Liv Shange260613

We demand:

  • Liv Shange must be allowed to return to South Africa.
  • Liv Shange be issued with a spousal visa and allowed to apply for permanent residence.
  • Stop repression against trade-union, community and political activists!

Mining strike, DSM and WASP activist Liv Shange faces deportation


by Weizmann Hamilton (Coordinating Committee Member of WASP,
General Secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement)

In a sinister development, ANC General Secretary, Gwede Mantashe’s claim – made to a business forum in Sandton on Tuesday 11th June, 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-years-old son Nila, and her husband’s 14 year old daughter, Naledi –all of them SA 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 SA 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 scape goats, 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 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 SA. 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 SA 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 Kwa Zulu 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 SA 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.

Please send protest:

To the Department of Home Affairs, (mkuseli.apleni@dha.gov.za, info@dha.gov.za)
To the Minister of Home Affairs Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor (carmen.h@dha.gov.za)
To the African National Congress (sngubane@anc.org.za)

A genuine working class fighter and a revolutionary socialist

Obituary for comrade Kemelo Ernest Mokgalagadi
by Mametlwe Sebei
It is with sadness and a sense of great loss that we mourn the untimely death of Comrade Kemelo Ernest Mokgalagadi, the branch secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement at Kroondal, Rustenburg. Comrade Ernest, as he was simply and affectionately called by friends and comrades, passed away at Job Shimankane Tabane hospital in Rustenburg after a short illness and operation on the 2ND June 2013. His death has certainly robbed the mineworkers and the struggle for socialism of a tireless organiser and uncompromising fighter in Rustenburg, the main theatre of working class resistance today in South Africa.
When I first met Comrade Ernest, he had just been released from jail, together with about 30 other workers. They had been charged with attempted murder amongst other serious charges, after they had occupied the mine underground for days and wired the mine with explosives in response to police threats to shoot them underground. I did not realise he was one of the comrades who had just been released because I did not expect that someone who had so narrowly escaped death in the stand-off with the police and mine security during their underground mine occupation, who had been subjected to police brutality, had been severely assaulted during his incarceration, and who, in addition, faced serious charges, could be all smiles and laughing as he was. But that was Comrade Ernest. It was his eternal smile – his most remarkable feature – which, as well as his undying sense of humour, for which comrades came to like him so much over the years.
Comrade Ernest was amongst the first wave of mineworkers to join what was then still a Marxist propaganda group, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the South African section of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) in 2009. He was the leader of the 4 500 Murray and Roberts workers who had been on strike and had been dismissed by the company for participating in an unprotected strike. The Murray and Roberts strike was undoubtedly the first turning point in process of the disintegration of the National Union of Mineworkers I(NUM)–the beginning of the end to its unchallenged domination in the platinum mining industry of Rustenburg.
For the first time, the NUM was publicly and openly challenged by their own members for the criminal and treacherous role they played. Behind the backs of the workers, the NUM leaders had reached an agreement with the Murray and Roberts’s management, accepting an offer of an 8% wage increase, ignoring the mandate for the modest demand of 10, 5%.and disregarding the overwhelming opposition of the workers to the offer. This effectively terminated a protected strike rendering it illegal, clearing the way for the bosses to call upon the stat e and private mine security to brutally crush the strike.
Comrade Ernest was elected onto the strike committee which led the strike that ensued in spite of the bitter opposition from the NUM leadership. The strike became one of the first in the series of the bloody battles waged against workers by the mine bosses and the government, that culminated, ultimately, in the Marikana massacre of 16 August, 2012.
It was this experience from the early struggles against the trade union bureaucracy in the NUM, whose complete degeneration many have only begun to recognise now after the Marikana massacre that bred a permanent hatred for working class traitors in Comrade Ernest. He had an absolute disdain for conservative trade union bureaucrats which often came across as stubborn rigidity on matters of tactics in relation to trade union struggle.
The Murray and Roberts Workers Committee, in which Comrade Ernest played a central role, became the basis for the political intervention of the DSM amongst the mineworkers in Rustenburg and beyond. It was this committee which, together with the Samancor and Anglo-Platinum strike committees, became the founding components of the Rustenburg Joint Strike Committee which subsequently fanned out beyond Rustenburg, developing into the National Strike Committee that played such a pivotal role in the co-ordination of the mineworkers’ strikes last year. The founding meeting of the joint Rustenburg-wide committee, which was attended by more than 50 delegates at Ikemeleng Primary School in Kroondal, was testimony to the tireless work and organising efforts of Comrade Ernest.
At the time of his death, Comrade Ernest was a key organiser for the Democratic Socialist Movement in Rustenburg and a member of the re-named National Workers Committee of the mineworkers. In these capacities, he was also the main organiser of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) in Rustenburg. Having worked with him intimately, I can attest that what set him apart in these roles was the appreciation of the fact that the struggles of the mineworkers can no longer be limited to the daily and immediate demands of the workers, but has to be linked to the broader, international working class struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society.
Having understood that the building of a revolutionary socialist party holds the key to liberation from the daily suffering that is life in the hostels and shafts of Rustenburg, Comrade Ernest dedicated himself to this task with a rock-hard determination which was an inspiration to all his comrades. He approached all issues, tactical and theoretical, with the utmost seriousness in this way, taking care to understand the precise details of each point – and once he did, he would argue and work for it with a sense of absolute dedication. We will sorely miss this seriousness combined with his ever-present smile and jokes.
He had taken to heart the need to raise his theoretical and political understanding and had nothing but absolute contempt for those worker leaders ‘who thought they knew it all’ and were not willing to learn. Though his energetic reading of Marxist literature was only in its beginning, his dedication and insistence on it convinced us all he was destined to be an even greater asset to the DSM and WASP, not only as an organiser, but a cadre capable of playing an independent political role in the further development of the party.
Comrade Ernest was born on the 26 June 1974 at Taung in the Northwest Province. Like many young working class people in the rural areas of this country, he migrated to the city for work in the mines. Soon after completing his matric, he found employment first in the Free State mines and later in Rustenburg where he worked at the Murray and Roberts-run Aquarius Platinum mine until 2009 when he was dismissed together with 4500 fellow workers. At the time of his death, he was still leading the struggle for the reinstatement of the dismissed workers. He leaves behind a daughter and son, his parents and three sisters.
The emergence of the independent strike committees, their knitting together into the National Strike Committee, the mass defection from the NUM and the establishment of WASP represent the most significant political developments in the post-apartheid era – the first steps taken by the working class to reclaim their class and political independence from the pro-capitalist ANC and its class collaborators in the Tripartite Alliance. This is the legacy that this pioneer has left behind. His dedication, discipline and ever shining smile will be missed by all his comrades and friends in the DSM and CWI. We send our condolences to his family and friends and pledge to continue the march to the emancipation of the working class and the socialist transformation of society that he dedicated his life to.