Gwede Mantashe accused of playing ‘xenophobic card’

ANC heavyweight Gwede Mantashe has been accused of playing a “xenophobic card” by suggesting white foreigners were interfering in the ongoing platinum mining strike.

The Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) said today: “We condemn this attempt by the ANC to again play a racist, xenophobic card.”

Deputy general secretary Liv Shange said in a statement this was done to detract from how the ANC-led government and the capitalist economy it presided over was failing mine workers.

Mantashe, ANC secretary-general, told reporters in Johannesburg yesterday the party leadership had questioned whether the platinum strike, which began on January 23, was political.

“This question arose having noted ... disturbing developments,” he said.

Some of the developments included the Economic Freedom Fighters’ alleged involvement in negotiations, and the articulation of the position of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), apparently by white foreigners.

ANC: Foreign forces trying to destabilise SA economy

This had led the ANC to caution the mineral resources ministry to handle the talks with care, said Mantashe. His comments followed the party’s national executive committee meeting last week.

Shange said: “Of course the ongoing platinum strike is political, for both workers and employers, in the sense that it is a contestation for power over the wealth of society.

“The mine workers don’t need me or any foreigner to come and tell them that.”

Wasp deputy president Mametlwe Sebei said yesterday Mantashe’s comments mirrored those he reportedly made a year ago.

In June last year, Independent Online quoted Mantashe saying: “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.”

Later that month, the Sunday Independent quoted him saying: “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.”

Sebei said Shange, who was Swedish and had been living in South Africa for 10 years, played a role in coordinating the 2012 mine workers’ strike for a R12 500 wage.

Shange had visa problems when attempting to re-enter South Africa last year, after returning from visiting her parents in Sweden with her children during the June school holidays.

By July 15, she was allowed back into South Africa on a tourist permit.

Sebei said the party made no apologies for supporting Amcu’s demand for a R12 500 monthly wage and called on other unions to strike in support of platinum mine workers.

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