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 June 12 – 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. The other target of this toxic xenophobic attack is Socialist Party of Ireland’s Member of Parliament Joe Higgins who attended the launch of WASP on Sharpeville Day.
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 SA citizens. Comrade Liv 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 the mineworkers whose battle for higher wages and decent living conditions and against retrenchments and rebellion against the treachery of the National Union of Mineworkers he describes as “anarchy”. 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’, angoras, and now the DSM, WASP and comrade.
Comrade Liv who 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 KwaZulu-Natal in 2007, passing summa cum laude. She is working full-time on a voluntary basis for the DSM. To debar her from returning to what is now her home, and separate her from her children who are all SA citizens 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.
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