The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of one of its Central Executive Committee members and the NUM General Secretary, Comrade David Sipunzi. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues, and his friends.
Cde David Sipunzi started working for Harmony Gold in 1985 and joined the National Union of Mineworkers the same year. He became an NUM Shaft Steward in 1986 and in 1987 he was elected the NUM Shaft deputy secretary. In 1991, Sipunzi was elected the NUM Free State Deputy Regional Secretary. In 1993, he was elected the NUM Deputy Branch Secretary and in 1996, Sipunzi was elected as the Branch Secretary.
In 1999, he was elected as the NUM Free State Regional Secretary until he was elected as the NUM General Secretary (GS) at the NUM 15th National Congress at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg in 2015. He was re-elected as the NUM General Secretary (GS) at the NUM 16th National Congress at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg in June 2018.
As a CEC member of the Federation, he will always be remembered as a stickler for the rules. He always insisted that worker control should be at the centre of every decision-making in the federation and in the trade union movement in general.
He was a forthright and principled character who never minced his words but who never held grudges and never took things personally. He took over the leadership of the NUM at a very difficult time in the mining sector and distinguished himself for his bravery, sincerity, and audacity. In His role as a national leader in the Federation, he was a remarkable trade unionist who campaigned tirelessly against oppression and exploitation.
He was part of a generation of a militant and sophisticated cadre of leadership of the federation, who were tirelessly working hard to take the federation to the next level and were ready to navigate the indeterminate future facing the working class in the time of his passing. He strongly believed that the principle of worker control was the safeguard that was going to guarantee the future of federation.
We will forever remember him as one of the principled leaders of the trade union movement who never minced his words but was never a populist and always subjected himself to democratic centralism.
The working-class remains deeply indebted to Cde David Siphunzi for his immense contribution to the struggle for its emancipation. The Federation has taken a big hit and the working class has lost one of its passionate and fearless defenders and advocates.
May his soul rest in peace!
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794