Recognising Numsa heroesAubrey ka SakiNumsa’s new Eastern Cape regional office at Pickering Avenue, Newton Park, Port Elizabeth observed one of its proudest moments in history on April 23, when its building was renamed Bimba Mangqabashana House.
First as a Dorbyl worker, shop steward, regional organiser and then regional secretary, Mangqabashana’s critical role pushed Numsa to where it is today. Today Numsa is not a power house for workers alone, but a home for political activists who share the socialist environment as envisioned by the working class. It was during the time of Mangqabashana that every revolutionary learnt that the role they had to play was a privilege and not a right. One had to put aside one’s self, and allow room for the image of the organisation.
Speakers recalled the revolutionary days of comrade Bimba. Regional Secretary Irvin Jim referred to him as one who refused to give up the fight not only against apartheid but against his own illness. Here was a great freedom fighter and lone sufferer who refused to surrender his revolutionary soul to death, until his Maker called him home to rest in well-earned peace, leaving behind a bereaved family and saddened fellow-strugglers.
“Lest we forget comrades,” said Jim, “other than a tireless revolutionary, Mangqabashana was a towering inferno of Numsa, born out of a bitter struggle due to the merciless apartheid colonialism that has set a precedent towards the working class’ newest enemy, globalisation. For the survival of unions,” continued Jim, “recruitment and mobilisation of new members must be strengthened.”
Numsa president Mthuthuzeli Tom slammed the thorny issue of labour-brokers. Here is another evil that is also geared to undermine trade unions even internationally. Bigger industries are shifting their social responsibilities to smaller factories, encouraging cheap labour, resulting in slavery wages to workers. One thing is certain, the immortal spirit of cde Bimba will live on. His young soul has pumped blood to water the trees which today bear our fruits of freedom. And to all those who are shy to mention their backyards and grassroots, out of poverty-stricken Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape, home of known revolutionaries, a leader of the working-class was born – Bimba Mangqabashana!
Bimba rememberedAyanda BillieWhat is life worth if one is not remembered by those one loved, those one gave one’s last – one’s life for? Just yesterday they were amongst us, they shared a dream and gave a meaning to our cause. Today they are not around and they haven’t entered the Promised land – new Afrika. Bimba Mangqabashana is such a man that Numsa couldn’t afford to forget, because his great work for the working class still glows. “My sister – to us Bimba’s blood still runs within us,” Numsa president Mtutuzeli Tom told Bimba’s sister. “Tell the old man and your mother that their son was a great leader, Afrika never forget “. The tearful woman kept on nodding and nodding.
An art portrait of Bimba that was done by Dollar Sapheta was carried high giving a clear picture for those who didn’t know how he looked.”In the ’90s Bimba was so young but a leader, he was far beyond his age,” recalled Irvin Jim, Eastern Cape regional secretary. “He was a genuine person who rededicated his life to the cause of the people of our province and country. I have learnt so much from him”. The great struggler died at the age of 37 in 1997.
Hlanganani – bringing togetherJenny Grice
The former Northern Transvaal region specially chose May 28 to launch its new name – Hlanganani (unite, come together) – so that it could think back to the launch of Numsa 18 years ago.
Nor was it by chance that the region had chosen its new name. Keynote speaker, Daniel Dube, Numsa’s first president, pointed out the importance of the region’s meaning if Numsa was to be successful in achieving its principle objective – a united South Africa, free of oppression and economic exploitation. Former president Nelson Mandela, had “sounded like a Numsa member” when he said “never again should one person be oppressed by another”. Dube urged the region to go all out to organise the unorganised because “even in democracy, workers are losing their jobs”. The region also used the opportunity to reward staff members and former shop stewards that had given great service to the region.
Organising Solomon (Chippa) Montshioa
Politics Peter Dantjie
Administration Khosi Matlala
Education Hlokoza Motau
Legal Menchi Motsepe
Longest Servicing Staff David Modimoeng
Meritorious Awards [given to former Regional Office Bearers for their contribution in building the region]
Putting learning into actionLiesbet Mohutshiwa
“If your learning leads to action, you’ve harnessed the power that can change anything in your life.” These were the powerful words of one of the facilitators from Tswhane College that trained administrators from Wits Central West and Ekurhuleni regions in communication skills, office skills and new ways of filing.
More training planned: Other regions can look forward to training as well
Regional secretaries and regional administrators 11-15 July
Hlanganani, Western Transvaal, Mpumalanga 18-22 July
Northern Cape, KZN 15-19 August
Western Cape, Eastern Cape 5-9 September
Wits CW, Ekurhuleni 25-30 September
Now that they are trained, Numsa members should put their administrators to the test to see if they are acting on what they have learnt.
Judy Makoko, West Rand Local administrator was “excited” by the accounting tips that she learnt. “Now I’m ready to calculate workers’ bonuses and balance my petty cash in a smart formula.” Maggie Mahlangu, from Wits Central West legal department was also impressed with the accounting and how it “dealt with finance, at work and at home.”
She says that the workshops have helped administrators to build a “good attitude” towards their work. But members and shop stewards especially, should expect no more bread and chip-eating at reception. From now on this is relegated to the kitchen only!
Del Seelo, Defy shop steward is pleased with the results of the training. “I don’t have to hang on for long when I phone now, and the mood of the administrators is so good.”