Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Azania/South Africa: Lybon Mabasa Speaks Out Against Repression of Marikana Striking Mineworkers

Lybon Mabasa, SOPA President, Speaks Out Against the Repression of the Strikers in the Mines of Marikana When evidence was given, during the last week of October, at the judicial commission investigating what happened at Marikana on August 16, an e-mail from Cyril Ramaphosa (1) to the authorities and the police was produced. In this e-mail, the former trade union head and still leader of ANC asked the police, the minister and the multinational mining company Lonmin itself to undertake "concomitant action" in order to restore order against the "criminal" acts of the strikers. It was then that the police showed up and shot and murdered about 40 striking miners. Just after the murdering of the Marikana miners, Julius Malema (2) addressed the people and said, "It was Cyril Ramaphosa who ordered to have them killed." When Malema said that, people said, "Since he is from the ANC, he must know what he is talking about." But they still wondered where the information came from. Now this information has been confirmed by the evidence provided to the investigation commission mentioned above. Cyril Ramaphosa is sort of a symbol of the process that has led the miners to lose confidence in what their traditional trade union, the NUM, had once been. They feel that this union has given up fighting and negotiating for the workers' demands. Remember, the NUM officially stated that the demands of the Marikana miners, i.e., the demand for a monthly salary of 12,500 Rand (US$1590) was "too much," and that they felt that people should be satisfied with the current salary, equivalent to $500 to $600. The leaders of the NUM do not seem to have taken into account the fact that the Lonmin multinational, which owns the Marikana mines, made a profit of $12.2 billion last year. Any worker, even those without much education, know that a billion is a thousand million. And the union bosses have agreed that they will only talk to the workers if they are accompanied by the police, where they will only speak with the miners from behind police vans. A few weeks ago, for example, the workers said to the NUM president, "You are one of us, come and talk to us," and the president refused and stayed behind the police vans. Forty-four Black miners were killed at Marikana, by what is called a Black government. It is a Tripartite Alliance government which has been in power since 1994, made up of the ANC, the COSATU and the South African Communist Party (SACP). The miners were killed because they dared to speak their demands: better wages, better living conditions, running water and toilets. ... And the only answer they were given was brutal repression. After Marikana, the government immediately went into propaganda mode. They said that the workers had been shot because they were attacking the police. Now evidence has been given that 15 of them were shot from the back. For others, there is proof that they were shot while surrendering, with their hands in the air. In fact, they were killed because those who they believed to be their comrades called them criminals and said that the police should shoot to kill. It was careless murder. In spite of that, the workers have been neither broken nor defeated. They have not been cowed down. And they have refused to go back into the mines to work for a pittance. They have set up committees to make their demands. We unconditionally support their demands. Julius Malema has also unconditionally supported the miners, and reiterated the call that we have always defended, for the nationalization of the mines, which are foreign-owned in South Africa. Yet after the killing of the Marikana miners, it still took several weeks for the Lonmin multinational to finally agree on a 19 % increase in pay, i.e., about $600 less than what they were asking for. After Lonmin gave in to that increase, the "official" union again said: No, that increase is much too much, the company was wrong to have settled for so much. They told the strikers: You are disorganizing our bargaining arrangements. And the government itself condemned the agreement, saying that agreements such as this must not be signed, because the mines will close and the companies will leave South Africa. To which the Socialist Party of South Africa says: If the mine-owners want to leave, then they must leave and the mines must be nationalized ! Following Marikana, the entire mining sector has now stood on its feet. At Amplats, which is the number one mining house in the world today, more than 15,000 workers have also gone on strike and they actually chased NUM away saying, we don't want you to compromise us, we will represent ourselves! AngloGold has also gone on strike; they have also refused the NUM because, they said, NUM wants to collude with the bosses. We want to represent ourselves. They have also set up committees. It mustn't be forgotten that after the shooting of the miners at Marikana, the government gave orders to arrest more than 78 miners and have charged them with murder -- for murdering themselves. They were finally released, because it did not make sense that they could have murdered themselves. And we want to thank you, comrades, for the sustained campaigns which you have led, because if it weren't for the international campaign that the ILC launched, those comrades would probably still be in prison. They are now arresting some of the members of the committees and charging them for various crimes, including murder. They are afraid that their union -- their preferred union -- is losing support. At the time of the COSATU congress just a few weeks ago, NUM said that it had numbers that were just under half a million. No one can deny that NUM once was a fighting union. But NUM has betrayed the workers. The workers have left NUM to join the Association of Mine Workers (AMCU) and at the present moment, in reality, NUM doesn't even have 50,000 workers. They are facing the same rejection TUCSA (3) faced in 1973. Because workers have the power and workers can determine the direction they want their struggle to go. And we say to NUM, if it wants to survive, it will have to become independent from the policies of the bosses, independent from the policies of government and independent from the policies of imperialism. The president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, called a "social summit" where he invited members of business, members of the NUM, members of the SACP and members of AMCU, and he said: Enough is enough, let us solve this thing in a gentlemen's manner. The workers rejected that social summit. Last Saturday, October 27, COSATU said that they want to "go and reclaim lost ground." They organized a rally at Olympic Stadium in the mining region of Rustenburg. That rally was going to be addressed by the secretary general of COSATU, Zwelinzima Vavi, the president of COSATU, and the secretary general of the South African Communist Party. And when they came, they found more than a thousand workers wearing black tee shirts saying, "Remember Marikana. We want a living wage." They said: We want the mines nationalized. The police removed them, in order to allow the rally. Finally -- in an area where there are hundreds of thousands of workers -- the rally was held, and they addressed only 500 to 600 people, who had been bussed in from Johannesburg. The workers are determined to fight back, and they are determined to accept whatever assistance in their fight that they can get from all the people who see this fight as central to the entire political spectrum of our country. By their own strength and commitment, they have begun the process of becoming the grave-diggers to imperialism. They need whatever support they can get. The instruments of the regime and the NUM bosses are repression and terror. Thousands and thousands of miners have been locked-out of the mines that are on strike. Leaders of the committees are being arrested every day. We call upon the mining bosses to reinstate all the workers who have been expelled. We ask them to accede to all the demands of the workers. We demand the unconditional release of all arrested miners. We demand the unconditional withdrawal of all charges. Above all, we say that South African mines must be nationalized immediately. The struggle continues. * * * * * Endnotes (1) Cyril Ramaphosa was one of the main founders of the mineworkers' trade union, the NUM. Today he is a member of the ANC central committee, member of the board of directors of Lonmin (the group that the Marikana mine belongs to), in which he owns 15 % of the shares -- thanks to which he has become a millionaire. (2) Julius Malema is the former leader of the ANC Youth Organization, from which he was excluded two years ago, because he took a stand in favor of the nationalization of the mines. (3) A "sweetheart," company union created at the beginning of the 1970s by the racist apartheid regime as a trade union showcase for the international scene. It was widely rejected by Black workers starting with the dockers' strike in Durban, in 1973. (to sender to list) •[TheBlackList] Azania/South Africa: Lybon Mabasa Speaks Out Against Repression of Marikana Striking Mineworkers, ILC, 11/19/2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



What Happened When 'Hurricane Sandy" Hit Sandy Ground, Staten Island

Quilts are among the historical items on display at the Sand Ground museum and library

Historical Quilt

Rossville-AME- Zion-Church-Cemetery

Sandy Ground, Staten Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sandy Ground
Sandy Ground, Staten Island is located in New York City
Location: Rossville, New York City
Coordinates: 40.541°N 74.217°WCoordinates: 40.541°N 74.217°W
Established: circa 1800
Sandy Ground is a community within the neighborhood of Rossville in the New York City borough Staten Island, New York, located to the west of Prince's Bay, on the island's South Shore.



When slavery was abolished in New York state on July 4, 1827, a massive celebration was staged on Staten Island at the Swan Hotel on Richmond Terrace. Accounts of the time note rooms had been reserved for months in advance by abolitionists and prominent free blacks. The two-day event in West New Brighton featured speeches, picnics, pageants and fireworks to mark this milestone in the life of New York state. Eight months later, on Feb. 23, 1828, another milestone would be recorded here when Capt. John Jackson purchased land in Westfield—now Rossville. His was the first recorded purchase of land by a black man in Richmond County, and the first purchase of land in the area we know today as Sandy Ground, the oldest community established by free slaves in North America. By the 1830s, freed men and women from all over New York state, as well as from areas as far away as Maryland and Virginia, would follow Jackson's lead, settling on Staten Island as an oasis from persecution.
After abolition in 1827, freedmen from all over the state and as far away as Maryland and Virginia settled in the area known since colonial times as Sandy Ground, in the area around what is now the intersection of Bloomingdale and Woodrow Roads in Rossville. These early settlers were already skilled in the oystering trade. Oyster harvesting was a major business on Staten Island during the 19th century and was mainly conducted on the island's south shore. The area of Prince's Bay was the main hub and was within walking distance from Sandy Ground. Sandy Ground also served as an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and is the oldest continuously settled free black community in the United States.[1] Sandy Ground was one of several similar neighborhoods in urban centers in the Northeast where free blacks gathered to further themselves socially and economically. Other African American communities created in cities with growing job markets in the same time period include the northern slope of Boston’s Beacon Hill, Little Liberia in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Hard Scrabble in Providence, Rhode Island.[2]
Although remnants of the original settlement still exist, most of the original houses were destroyed in the Rossville Fire of 1963. The Sandy Ground Historical Society, which preserves the history and physical surroundings of the Sandy Ground community and maintains a museum and library, was organized on February 28, 1980, and is located at 1538 Woodrow Road.[3] In 1982, the Sandy Ground Historic Archeological District was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

Sandy Ground as Little Africa

The Sandy Ground settlement was known at times as Harrisville and "Little Africa." The community began as a farming region, but as men and women from Maryland and Delaware migrated to the area, the economy shifted to oyster harvesting. The oyster harvesting industry was a major business here in the 19th century, and the oysters the men of Sandy Ground planted and raked in were sold in the finest restaurants in Manhattan and elsewhere.

Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion

In the midst of this thriving community, which became the center of economic and social life for free blacks living on the Eastern Seaboard, the Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed on Dec. 5, 1850, in the Rossville home of William H. Pitts, who also served as the first minister. The Founding members of the Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church were Caesar Jackson, Francis Williams, William Webb, William H. Stevens, John J. Henry, Moses K. Harris, Israel Pitts, Isaac Purnell, Ishmael Robins, Henry Jackson, Elizabeth Titus, Sarah J. Landin, Esther V. S. Purnell, Ann M. Bishop, Grace Williams and Louisa Harris.[5]
Annual camp meetings were held at the site in those early years, with people coming from as far away as Connecticut and Virginia to celebrate living a "free life."
The first church was built of frame construction in 1854 off Bloomingdale Road in Bogardus Corners.[5] It was destroyed by fire and replaced by the current building, which was occupied on Dec. 19, 1897, although, some sources state 1870 as the date of this structure's completion.

Sandy Ground as an Underground Railroad Stop

Sandy Ground also was a major stop along the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping from the South. It has been speculated that the aforementioned Capt. Jackson might have ferried slaves across the Kill van Kull between Staten Island and New Jersey aboard the ferry boat he owned and operated.
A group of abolitionists also called Staten Island home, many in the Livingston section, and other houses in addition to those in Sandy Ground have been identified as possible stops along the railroad.
Among these might have been the large home built for George W. Curtis at the corner of Henderson and Bard Avenues. Curtis, who wrote for and was associate editor of Putnam's Magazine, as well as Harper's Weekly, was an orator of national renown on many subjects, including the ending of slavery in the United States of America.

Harris Home

One of the more interesting families to live there was the Harris family. The circa 1906 home of Isaac Harris still stands on Bloomingdale Road. He was the son of Silas Harris, one of two brothers who settled in Sandy Ground with their families early in its history.
The Isaac Harris house was designed by renowned architect Stanford White of the firm of McKim, Meade and White. Harris was a respected member of White's household staff, and it is said the architect drew up plans for Harris' house as a gift in tribute for his service. The house boasts a gambrel roof and front bay. Unfortunately, Harris' is one of only about 12 of the original old homes still standing in the community.
Older native Islanders will remember the devastating brush fires that raged across the Island on a dry, spring day in 1963. Quite a number of buildings were destroyed in that one-day inferno, many of them in Sandy Ground. But the spirit of the community lived on.
The Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church still plays a prominent role in the life of this part of Staten Island. The lovely wood-frame structure is reminiscent of the days when Staten Island was a bucolic place to live and raise a family.
The rich history of Sandy Ground has been documented and preserved through the efforts of the Sandy Ground Historical Society. Many families still live in the community that was founded by their courageous ancestors.[6]


  1. ^ "Black History Lives at Sandy Ground". Staten Island Advance. 2005-04-24.
  2. ^ Stephanie Reitz (2009-11-23). "Group tries to preserve 2 historic Conn. homes". Associated Press (Boston Globe). Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  3. ^ "Sandy Ground Historical Museum". Office of the Staten Island Borough President. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
  5. ^ a b Biddle, William T. “A.M.E. Zion Church” in History of Methodism and the Methodist Churches of Staten Island, ed. A. Y. Hubbell (New York: Richmond Publishing Company, 1898), p149
  6. ^ Ferreri, James G. (2005-02-28). "On Sacred Ground". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 2009-08-22.

External links


Free All Political Prisoners!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Striking South African Mineworkers: So. African & International Press Review (reprinted from Issue no. 97 of ILC International Newsletter)

South African and International Press Review
(October 9-26, 2012)

Even dismissed, the strikers [in South Africa] are standing firm on their demands

AFP, October 9 : «A meeting between government representatives and the miners dismissed last week by Anglo American Platinum took place on October 8. The strikers are demanding pay rises and are standing firm on their demands, in spite of the dismissal of twelve thousand of them that was announced by the world's number one platinum extraction company. The dismissed strikers have no tintention of abandoning their fight . . ., they remain determined to continue their action.»

Zuma convenes a «social summit» ...

On October 12, the South African economic and financial daily Business Day reported that President Zuma «had invited representatives from the business world, trade unions and civil society to a meeting to find solutions to the wave of violent strikes that are threatening economic growth .»
The article continued, «Jacob Zuma stood up forcefully against the violence linked to the strikes. He stated that although it was a democratic right of the workers to strike, the culture of deadly violence against persons, combined with the destruction of property, was unacceptable.»

Not a word, of course, on the police massacres.

Business Day added: «The president of the COSATU trade union federation, S'dumo Dlamini, decared that in this meeting 'they had been informed of the veiwpoint of the international investors concerning the current situation in the mines.' He added that, «A call must be made to all South Africans : yes, we have problems but let us not destroy our jobs ; we need to clearly demonstrate where the genuine leaders of the people are; the danger is that the workers realize too late that Julius Malema has lied to them.»

Business Day reports that the president of the bosses' association Business Unity, Jabu Mabuza has declared that «the call from the president is timely and must be supported; it was good to hear it said that the violent character of the strikes was unacceptable».

... But the strikes are spreading

Five days after the Social Summit, it is obvious that nothing has been resolved. The strike is taking root. It is estimated that 100,000 workers are affected by the strike. Zuma has been forced to reiterate his call to the «social partners». The Sowetan of October 17 headlined, «Zuma says to the strikers 'Back to work now'».

It is a call that has no no echo, despite the violence against the strikers.

In the Kumba iron ore mine, for example, according to the Mail and Guardian of October 16, 300 workers decided to stop production. They are demanding that their salaries be increased to 15,000 Rands and they have been occupying the premises. Brutally, a 200-strong commando of police, special forces agents and security guards took the place over. Seven miners were injured and 40 were arrested.

Strike in a diamond mine

On October 18, a South African press agency announced that the diamond workers of Petra, east of Pretoria (approximately 1,800 workers, 1,000 of whom are members of the National Union of Mineworkers / NUM), had gone on strike, demanding a salary of 12,500 Rands. Their strike is «illegal» and the NUM section does not support it but, according to its general secretary, the union has been compelled to represent the miners.

In other sectors ...

The conflict has been concentrated in the mining sector but has spilled over into other branches, such as the truckers who, after three weeks of strike, have won significant pay increases.
As the press has admitted, «the COSATU union federation, which is losing ground,» has been led to to giving its approval to these strikes. Such is the case, for example, for the strike in the clothing-workers industry of Newcastle, who until now have been paid below the legal minimum wage.

The COSATU leadership has backed Zuma

After Zuma reiterated his call for the strikers to go back to work, the press agencies announced, on October 18, that «COSATU will back President Zuma's candidacy for a second term as head of the ANC».

A meeting of the strike committee delegates affirm, «We will not give in!»

That is the conclusion that the Financial Times (October 19) has drawn from the situation and a gathering of delegates from several mines: «Those who participated in this gathering of 'workers' delegates' from the platinum and gold sectors, the sectors heaviest hit by the strikes, have sent a harsh warning to the mining companies : the miners demands must be met, or the strikes that broke out in August will spread. . . . Sphamanala Makhanya, a winch operator, has spent a decade in the mines and said he took home around R5,000 a month before he was dismissed by Amplats. He lives in a tin shack in a squatter camp and 10 of his relatives, including his four children in faraway KwaZulu Natal province, depend on his salary.»

Provocation from Anglogold Ashandi

A spectacular example of the escalation in social unrest is the following: AngloGold Ashanti, the world's number three producer of gold, has been forced to suspend all its operations overnight, because 24,000 of their 35,000 empolyees went on strike last month (Financial Times, October 19). On October 22 «AngloGold Ashanti . . . threatened to dismiss its strikers if they did not return to work by Wednesday.» (AFP)

«Legitimate Defence»?

Two months after the Marikana tragedy, not one single police agent has been placed under investigation. At the inquiry set upby the government, the lawyer for the South African police expressed regret but pleaded «legitimate defence.»

We must remember that at least 34 miners were killed, many of them by a bullet in the back.