ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. File photo: Boxer Ngwenya

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

"We condemn this attempt by the ANC to again play a racist, xenophobic card," the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) said on Monday.

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

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

"The articulation of Amcu's (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's) position by white foreign nationals is signalling interest of the foreign forces in the destabilisation of our economy," he said at the time.

Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

They have so far rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12 500 by July 2017.

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 mineworkers don't need me or any foreigner to come and tell them that."

Wasp deputy president Mametlwe Sebei said on Monday Mantashe's comments mirrored those he 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," Mantashe said.

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 is Swedish and had been living in South Africa for 10 years, played a role in co-ordinating the 2012 mineworkers' 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 mineworkers.