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Black South African Union Leader Receives Palme Prize

October 24, 1987

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s black mine workers’ leader, on Saturday became the first person to receive the Olof Palme Prize instituted in memory of the slain Swedish premier.

The prize committee said that under Ramaphosa’s leadership the members of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers had shown ″courage and wisdom in its solidary struggle for human rights and dignity.″

The award’s $16,000 stipend is drawn from the Olof Palme Memorial Fund.

Ramaphosa, speaking at a news conference in Stockholm before the ceremony, said the award ″is very important to our members″ and adds to the international pressure on South Africa’s government to abolish its system of racial segregation.

Ramaphosa, 34, is the first general secretary of the mineworkers’ group, which was created in 1982. The union now has more than 300,000 members.

Ramaphosa said the massive mineworkers strike in August ended without management’s acceptance of the miners’ demands for higher wages and other concessions. But he called the strike ″a preparation for future victories.″

He said the mining corporations had lost nearly $300 million because of the strike at 56 mines and at some places, production was delayed up to six months.

The Palme prize was created March 3, 1986, three days after Olof Palme was shot to death in downtown Stockholm. The killer is still at large.

The prize is part of a fund aimed at increasing international understanding. Voluntary contributions total $3.8 million.