Elijah Barayi was born on the 15 June 1930 in Lingelihle, Eastern Cape. He was the youngest of the 10 children. His father, a municipal worker, and his mother, a domestic worker, encouraged his education and he completed his matric at Healtown Institution in 1949. Unable to continue to pay for his studies at Fort Hare University, Barayi went to work as a clerk in the Department of Native Affairs in Cradock. He joined the ANC Youth League in 1948 at the time when he was about to complete his JC. The impetus for him joining the ANC Youth League was preceded with a racist incident in town when some racist young white boys attacked him and Comrade Zinzele Ngalo, they subsequently fought back and defeated them.
Comrade Barayi became actively involved in the activities of the ANC Youth League and his leading role in the -defiance campaign in 1952 led to one-month detention in Cradock. In 1952 he joined the ANC, and was “taught politics” by the Rev Calata, a former ANC secretary general. Barayi 11 recalled in an interview in 1991 how he joined the Defiance Campaign with enthusiasm. He remembered a group of volunteers, without papers, marching to the local police station, in defiance of curfew regulations bar-ring Africans from being on the streets at night.
On his release he came to the Witwatersrand where he was employed as a mine clerk and was later to be become the founding member of the larg-est union in Africa, the National Union of mine workers. As a mine worker, comrade Barayi was always at the forefront of the working class struggles for the betterment of the working conditions. He became a mine worker in the early 1970’s. In 1981 he met then NUM general secretary Cyril Rama-phosa and became the first miners to join NUM. He was elected as a Num shaft steward and soon after was elected vice president of the union.
He became the founder vice president of NUM until to death. He played a prominent role in unmasking the National Union of mine workers to the in-ternational communities such as the Miners International Congress.
Early Life John Gomomo was born on a farm in Adelaide on the 16th De-cember 1946. He was one of the seven children born to the late Ndabeni (Mnzotho) and Nonga Stofile (Mpondo). He received his primary education from Ntlaka lower Primary School and Marry Mount High School. He left school in standard 6, because of family poverty, he subsequently com-pleted his matriculation through correspondence courses.
Gomomo initially worked as a machine operator in a textile factory, then joined Volkwagen of South Africa. It was here that he received assistance to study labour Relations at the University of Port Elizabeth (Nelson John Gomomo Mandela Metropolitan University). Gomomo became a member of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) at Volkswagen in 1977, which subsequently merged with a set of other unions to form the national Auto-mobile and Allied Workers Union (NAAWU) in 1980, affiliated to the Fed-eration of South African Trade Unions. In the early 1980’s, Gomomo be-came a full-time shop 15 steward at Volkswagen.
He and other union members played a role in building civic structures in Uitenhage, but avoided leadership roles because of tensions between community-based organisations and the trade unions. Gomomo was elected vice-president of NAAWU which in 1987 – merged with other un-ions to form the National Union of Metal workers of south Africa (NUMSA). Gomomo is credited as being at the heart of talks that led to the formation of NUMSA. In recognition of his qualities as a leader and metalworker, the federation, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) elected him as 2nd Deputy President in 1989.
He replaced Elijah Barayi as President in 1991, a position he held until 1999. While Cosatu president, Gomomo led the campaign for the Labour Relations Act of 1995 and the Employment Equity act of 1997. He graphi-cally summed up labour opposition to the government’s Growth, Employ-ment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy when he described it as “the re-verse gear of our society”.
Following the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP) in February 1990, Gomomo was appointed to the ANC’s Eastern Cape internal leadership core, and the SACP’s internal leadership group.
He was elected to the SACP’s central committee at its December 1991 congress. Gomomo was an instrumental player in the CODESA negotia-tions and the negotiated transitions in 1994. Gomomo was a Parliamentar-ian for over eight years and chaired the Public Service and Administration Committee, He remained in touch with the National Metal Workers Union despite these additional responsibilities and remained a pillar for metal-workers and leader 16 of the federation.
Tributes: John Gomomo, died on 22 January 2008 at the age 62 at Uiten-hage clinic in the Eastern Cape after being admitted with a life threatening diseases. He is survived by his wife Nontsika and children. Cosatu said Gomomo would be remembered as an icon in the labour movement. “We dip our flags in honour of one of the greatest leaders of South African workers, who devoted his entire life to their service and will be forever re-membered as a hero of the struggle for freedom, democracy and workers’ rights. The mighty workers we see today would never have been built with-out the dedication, commitment and hard work of people like John Go-momo, Cosatu said. He was the embodiment of the best traditions of the Congress movement, a worker, a negotiator, an activists and a leader of the ANC and SACP and one who served the people without any material or personal gains”.
Chris Dlamini went to Endaleni Training Inst, KwaZulu- Natal, he get Certificate of Economics & Finance from the Institute for Economic Policy, Certificate of State-Owned Enterprises from the Tiring School, United Kingdom.
He was president of Sweet Food & Allied Workers’ Union appointed from 1979 to 1986, he became a FOSATU President appointed 1981 to 1985, president of SATU from 1982 to 1982, deputy president of COSATU from 1985 1994. President of Food & Allied workers Union from 1986 to 1993 and final a chairman of Break-Thru financial Services (Pty) LTD in 2004 Directorships Member of SACP and CEC in 1991 to 1997, director for SA
Centre for Chinese Studies from 1997 to 2001. Chief Executive Officer for Investment Fund, Food & Allied Workers Union in 2001. NEC Member from ANC 1995 – 1997, Treas & Founder Member Civic Association of Southern Transvaal 1990 to 1992. Treas & Founder Member from Re-gional Stay Away Comm from 1984 to 1984. Chair of the Shop Steward Comm at Kellogg from 1979 to 1979. Treas & Founder Member from Engi-neering & Allied Workers’ Union – 1973 – 1973.
Detained one month under Sect 29 of Internal Security Act 1984, banished (house arrest): 3 days in 1982, 10 days in 1986; Elected to Parliament whilst still working for Kellogg’s 1994. Led delegation at Trad. Chairman: Break-Thru Financial Services (Pty) Ltd; Chief Executive Officer: Invest-ment Fund, Food & Allied Workers Union; Detained one month under Sect 29 of Internal Security Act 1984, banished (house arrest): 3 days in 1982, 10 days in 1986; Led delegation at Trade Union Unity talks 1981-85.
Connie September: Personal Information Date of Birth:26-06-1959 Place of Birth: Cape Town Citizenship: South Africa Gender: Female Skilled public and private sector leader with Masters degree in Technology Management and studies in Economics. First women to occupy national office bearer leadership. Knowledgeable background in manufacturing, Government and Parlia-ment.
Various international exposure. Excellent work ethic. Education Magister Scientae, The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management (2008) Dis-sertation topic: How can we improve the productive capacity of women in Townships and Rural areas through Technology? Advanced Diploma in Economic Policy, University of the Western Cape (2008) Economics and Public Finance, UNISA, one year programme (2006) Post Graduate Engi-neering Management, Warwick University (2006). Invited Participant UN Committee- Report on the Independent commission on Africa and the challenges of the third Millennium- Winning the war against humiliation (1998) Experience June 1999 – April 2009 Member of Parliament Chair-person of the Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry. Manage-ment of legislative and constitutional mandate. Ensure capacitating of committee members to fulfil their oversight function. Oversaw the imple-
mentation of government’s objectives in co-operation with Minister and relevant departmental officials, including entities. Equally dealt with entities as per the legislative and constitutional imperatives.
Sydney Mufamadi was born on 28 February 1959 in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. Mufamadi is the eldest of the four children of Masindi and Reuben, who are now both pensioners. He grew up in Meadowlands (Gauteng) and in Tshisahulu (Venda).
In Venda young Sidney first looked after his grandfather’s cattle and then attended school. His father worked in Johannesburg sydney mufamadias did his mother who sold home-brewed alcohol to supplement the family income. Mufamadi’s mother was arrested for illegally selling alcohol and he saw the unjust system first-hand at an early age. In 1973 Mufamadi passed Std. 6 with distinction, and in 1977 completed Std. 8 at Kwevha High School in Shayandima, Venda.
In 1976 with the spread of Soweto Uprising, into other areas of the coun-try, Mufamadi became a member of Zoutpansberg Students Organisation, which led the boycotts in Venda during October 1977. Many student lead-ers were arrested, and others, including Mufamadi, went underground. When the schools re-opened he was refused readmission and was briefly prevented by the apartheid state from completing his schooling. He moved 25 to Johannesburg and enrolled at an international Correspondence Col-lege.
In 1977 he joined the African National Congress (ANC), in the next year he was a founder member of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), and in 1981 he joined the South African Communist Party (SACP). His in-volvement in AZAPO led to a two-month detention without trial at John Vorster Square, Johannesburg, under section 6 of the Terrorism Act.
Following the successful Transvaal regional stayaway in November 1984, Mufamadi was subpoenaed to appear as a state witness at the trial of some of its organisers. However, when some of the accused fled the coun-try, charges were withdrawn and he was not called to testify. In 1985 when the state of emergency was declared, Mufamadi operated underground to avoid detention, resurfacing to help organise and attend the December
1985 launch of the Congress of South African Trade 26 Unions (COSATU) in Durban. He was elected Assistant General Secretary at its inaugural rally. He operated underground from June 1986 to October 1986, but openly resumed his work despite the continuing state of emergency. He was again detained on 8 June 1987 for political activities.
Jay Naidoo: DATE OF BIRTH 20 December 1954 Early Life Enrolled in University of Durban Westville in 1975 to study a BSc degree in pursuance of a medical career. Became part of the South African Students Organization led by Steve Biko. Was active in student’s politics. Left university in 1977 before completing degree because of Government repression. Then became a community organizer building Jay Naidoomass based civil society organi-zations.
In 1979, joined a fledging trade union movement Fosatu (Federation of South African Trade Unions) as a volunteer. In 1980 became a full time or-ganizer and led the Sweet, Food and Allied Workers Union as General Secretary by 1982. CURRENT: Founder of the J&J Group Development Trust the social development arm of the J&J Group. Chairman of the De-velopment Bank of Southern Africa, a key development fiFinance Institu-tion, owned by the South African Government, driving the expansion of so-cial and economic infrastructure in the SADC region. Was elected General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in 1985 and was re-elected for three terms.
During the 1980s Cosatu became not only the most powerfully organized force working for the improvement of working conditions but also in alli-ance with political organizations like the now governing party African Na-tional Congress (ANC) for the broader political freedoms of our people. Its membership by the 1990s reached one and half million members. In 1993 was elected by Cosatu to lead twenty labour leaders to stand on an ANC ticket for the election of the first democratic parliament in South Africa. Then became the co-coordinator of the Reconstruction and Development Program, which was drawn up in a consultative process of discussion with all of the progressive democratic forces and underpinned the ANC’s elec-tion campaign in 1994.
My political conscientisation began at a very early age from my own ex-perience and from listening to the stories of the suffering my parents and elder brothers and sisters went through. When others went to preschool, I and my brother and sisters were doing chores at the farm without any form of compensation. I think I must have been only five years old when this systematic introduction to the farm labourer’s working life began. I did that until my family relocated in 1971.
To this day, every time my family meet they recount their experiences at the hands of the farmers. They talked of the life of unfair dismissals. They recount details of abuse – the beatings, including of children. They talk of their parents’ awful Zwelinzima Vavi working conditions and poor pay. They talk about the discrimination and humiliation of young and old alike. They talk about hunger in the midst of the plenty they helped to produce. They talk about the life of evictions. They told me in detail how my family, during one of these evictions, ended up spending days literally along the side of the roads, with my parents sleeping in the open whilst the kids crouched under the horses’ cradle in the middle of the cold winter nights. On these occasions my father would every morning walk kilometres from one farm to the next in search of new employment.
COSATU 1st Deputy President: Joseph Nkosi. The ebullient 39-year-old Joseph Nkosi is a veteran of both labour and democratic struggles. Jo-seph Nkosi was born and grew up in Madadeni Township, outside the coal mining centre of Newcastle in what is now KwaZulu-Natal Province. He cut his teeth on student politics while completing his schooling at the local high school, Hlalanathi School, where he participated in the activities of Student Youth Organisation. Career Life : After leaving school, like so many South African he struggled to find a job, Joseph Nkosispending 5 years looking for employment. During this time he studied Administration via correspondence at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He was fi-nally employed at Kilbarchan Mine in Newcastle.
When workers at the mine were given the options of either retrenchment or transfer, in 1986 he moved to Middelburg Mines Optimum Colliery, in what is now Mpumalanga Province. During the bitter and protracted 1987 miners’ strike, he played a major role as Activities Co-ordinator for the Na-tional Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Comrade Nkosi was subsequently elected NUM Shaft Steward, and became active in the activities around Witbank of the United Democratic Front, a key antiapartheid force. He was also active in COSATU Middelburg Local, becoming Chairperson of the Local. In 1989 he was elected Vice Chairperson of the National Education Structure Committee of NUM.
After the 1990 unbanning of the ANC and other organisation, he was elected as the Chairperson of the ANC Branch. After playing a leading role in the formation of a South African Communist Party (SACP) Branch at Pullenshope, he served on the Mpumalanga Provincial Executive Commit-tee of SACP. From 1992 until 1996 he served as Provincial Chairperson of SACP . During this period he became Vice Chairperson of the COSATU Highveld Region, where he was elected Chairperson in 1995. He was also elected as National Chairperson of Education Committee of NUM, and re-mains a member of the NUM National Executive Committee. Comrade Nkosi stood in Cosatu Special Congress for a vice presidency against Comrade Peter Malepe, but lost. Subsequently the COSATU Central Ex-ecutive Committee elected him unanimously as Acting 1st Vice President after Comrade Malepe resigned.
In 1986, after the birth of her first child, Joyce started work at Robertson’s where she found a liaison Committee and no trade union. Workers faced many problems, the women faced sexual harassment e.g. they had to trade sex for jobs, there were separate bathrooms and canteens for Black & White workers and workers got increases on whim of managers or not Joyce Pekaneat all. Career Life : When asked about her involvement with trade unions, Pekani argued that it may have to do with her background as a student activists during 1976 students riots.
Being a student at that time and involved in such activities exposed her to the South African politics of racial discrimination and inequality. Former Second Vice “President of COSATU She is currently a member of Gau-
teng Legislature. She was instrumental in organising her company under CWIU – (Chemical Workers Industrial Union) and was elected to the posi-tion of 1st Vice President if CWIU in 1997 and she was the 1st woman president in 1997. She was then elected to the position of 2nd Deputy President of COSATU. In 1999 to 2003. In 2004 she was CEPPWAWU’s 2nd Deputy President.
She was appointed to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature as a ANC Mem-ber of Provincial Legislature after the 2004 national elecyions. So Joyce, together with a fellow worker, made contact with the CWIU and began to organise workers in the factory. Soon the company was forced to recog-nise the union as a majority of workers had joined it. For most union activ-ists, participation in the trade union movement also meant challenging the norms and stereotypes of race and gender that were so prevalent in life in apartheid society. Often this meant challenging deep seated beliefs and practices that had permitted individual lives of unionist as people having to survive under apartheid and the collective lives of unions and the move-ment.
Early Life The name Beki (Bheki) was given to me by a white-man official at Home Affairs when I applied for my identity document. This is the legal name I am using even today while my real name given to me my parents is Veli. After completing my Junior Certificate I could not receive my sym-bols to be admitted at High School and I had to wait for my certificate. While waiting I was employed by the school in which I was studying as a Librarian teacher for a year. Career Life Eventually my certificate came but there was no money to further my studies as my younger brothers were at secondary school then. My parents decided that I was the one to be com-promised. I came to Johannesburg undocumented in that I did not have section 10 (1) (a) and I had running battles with police and used all man-ner of tricks available to me to remain in Johannesburg.
I was deported out of Joburg more than four times (issued with 72 hours special to leave Joburg) and every time I was sent off I would get a new ID and came back. Without proper documentation I was almost unemploy-able in Johannesburg. I eventually got employed by my uncle who owned taxis at the time. Here again I got two nick names – Mtshana because it
was how my uncle called me and everybody followed suit but others called me Mshagaan which I would explain some time in the future if I get time. Within a year I graduated in the taxi industry from being a taxi driver to be taxi operator (Owner). My intention was not to stay long in this industry. Due to the nature of the industry, the violence, roughness, greed, rude-ness and the fact that I was street wise, life and death were two sides of the same coin. Many people that I knew died of violence while other closer to me were arrested for all sorts of things I decided to leave the sector. I had enough money to go back to school and look after my young brothers who were at high school by then.
Unfortunately I was arrested near Swaziland for driving a taxi (own car) outside of its operating area without a permit which normally was traffic of-fence that would render one arrested but issue with a traffic ticket. When appearing in court for a bail the charges were added to include suspicions of being a terrorist. Though I got a bail I and to appear in court every month for two years. At the end of the trial I was fined a mere R50 for driv-ing a taxi outside of its operation routes without a permit. I had lost all the interests of going back to school. I found my self employed at Sasol 3 in Secunda, Mpumalanga. It was there that I was recruited to the Chemical Workers Industrial Union (CWIU), a FOSATU affiliate in 1981 as a mem-ber. I was elected as a shopsteward, chairperson of Sasol 3 and Deputy Chairperson of the SASOL Plants SASOL 2 and 3). In 9184 I together with 6500 workers were dismissed by SASOL who was then a parastatal for participating in a political stay away on 5 & 6 November 1984, which was called by UDF in support of COSAS.
Early Life : Violet was born on 18 September 1965. She was a single mother and leaves behind two daughters: Lesogo (24 years) and Lesedi (12 years). Career Life: Violet was an exceptional workers’ leader. She was first elected as a SACTWU shop steward in 1989. She was most re-cently employed at Supreme Hat ‘n Cap, a Johannesburg-based clothing company. Her exceptional talent and dedication as a worker leader re-sulted in her quickly rising through the ranks in SACTWU and in COSATU.
In 1999 she was elected as the first female V Seboni chairperson of the SACTWU East Rand Branch. In early 2001, she was elected as the Re-
gional Treasurer in SACTWU’s Gauteng Region and later the same year as the SACTWU 2nd deputy President, at the union’s 8th National Con-gress held in Durban. She was elected as COSATU’s Second Deputy President in 2003. At SACTWU’S 2004 National Congress, she was elected as 1st Deputy President of this clothing, textile and leather trade union. She also played a leading role in the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and in 2005, she was also elected as a Vice-President for the Africa Region of the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF), a global union federation of tex-tile, garment and leather trade unions.
She was also a member of the Brussels-based ITGLWF’s international Ex-ecutive Committee, representing her union SACTWU. During her lifetime, Violet has served in all structures of SACTWU, from factory level (where she started as a shop steward in 1989) right up to the national structures of the union. She has served in the union’s East Rand branch structures, on the union’s Gauteng Regional Executive Committee, on the union’s Na-tional Co-ordinating Committee as well as on the SACTWU National Ex-ecutive Committee. Besides her work in COSATU, she was also an end-less campaigner for a better and more sustained future for clothing, textile and leather workers. She was also a member of the SACTWU clothing industry wage negotiating team for more than a decade. She has played a broader role to advance the interests of the labour movement in general, in many other areas. At the most recent National Co-ordinating Committee meeting of SACTWU, held in mid-February this year, she spoke passion-ately about the importance for a decisive ANC victory in the April 2009 general elections.
The union movement has lost a great worker leader and revolutionary heroine, a person who was passionate about a better life for clothing, tex-tile and leather workers in particular and all workers nationally and globally in general. She devoted her whole life to the struggle to liberate her peo-ple and build a socialist world. She will be sorely missed and her contribu-tion will never be forgotten. Violet Seboni, a great champion of the work-ers’ struggle Born – 18-09-1965 and Died -03-04-2009. COSATU’s Deputy President, Violet Seboni, passed away in a car accident on Friday 3 April 2009. Typically she died with her boots on, on her way to Mafikeng, where she was to participate in ANC election campaign. Her family, friends and comrades have lost a great champion of the workers’ struggle and a won-derful person.
Early Life: Following the decision to remove Willy Madisha as President of COSATU in terms of Clause 184.108.40.206 of the COSATU constitution, the CEC unanimously elected Sidumo Dlamini, the current 1st Deputy President, to serve as President of COSATU until the 10th National Congress that will be held in September 2009. Career Life: The CEC decided not to fill the resultant vacancy of the 1st Deputy President, which will remain vacant until the Congress. Sdumo Dlamini was born in a very rural village of Ntshingila Hlatsikhulu in Swaziland on the 2nd March 1966.
My father died at his early age of TB or Idliso as I was always made to be-lieve until my Aunt clarified it was TB. Both my parents were very young and never got married except in the customary way where my father just took her to stay with and no lobola was paid nor damages. I am not sure how old I was when my father passed away maybe three or four years, that made me to migrate to SA almost a year or two later. I was separated from my mother and my country of origin at that age. This partly due to disagreements about my custody between the families. My aunt took me as a form of a solution. I started schooling in 1973 at Magugu HP Ingwa-vuma at the S Dlaminiage of seven years and proceeded to Ingwavuma High School in 1980 and finished my matric in 1984. Like any child grow-ing in a rural area with no development at that time I experienced all the hardships all linked to the fact that I had to be separated with my parents at an early age.
My life was a struggle, I learned at an early age to work for schooling and a plate of food. I had to look after cattle and ploughed mealies on the ox hough and the hand hough. My first taste of the bitter end of the apartheid system was when I was forced to abandon my SiSwati language as I would not be accepted at school so I had to learn to speak Zulu before school. In 1984 I was one of the ring leaders of the first strike at high school challenging corporal punishment and the system of education and the abuse of the school fund and fees. Only to discover months later that the strike had been spear headed by the ANC underground operatives when many of my fellow comrades were arrested and detained for almost a year. I was only 17 years. In 1986 to 1988 I did my training as pupil
nurse, the first to have in area as only woman were known to be nurses. Failing to find a job.
I moved to Durban and got a job at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in a KwaZulu government where the IFP reigned. I later studied for diplomas in General Nursing and Midwifery. This institution was the backbone and the source of the notorious black on black violence led by the IFP. We the workers fought tough battles against the system and many were killed I had joined NEHAWU after we had embarked on an illegal strike in 1990 September. Actually I was elected a shopsteward on the 3rd and have led 6 major strikes in that institution. I have led Nehawu at branch or regional level as chairperson and provincial level.
In 2000 I was elected Cosatu provincial chairperson, served two terms and elected to a third term in July 2006 to be later elected 1st Deputy Presi-dent at the ninth national congress of COSATU. I also serve in the PEC,PWC as a member of the SACP since 2000 and 2003. I am a loyal member of the ANC which I formally joined in 1990 and participates in its community programmes. Has paralegal background a strong negotiator with developed conflict management skills. Combined with disputes reso-lution. Married with three children.
Alina Rantsolase works for Checkers-Vereeniging as an Inventory Control-ler. She joined the Commercial Catering and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (CCAWUSA) in 1978 and served in the union’s Regional and Central Executive Committee. In 1984, she became a National Negotiator representing the union in negotiations with Checkers.
Two years later, Rantsolase became a Regional Chairperson of the Com-pany Council (and internal bargaining council). In 1987, she became CO-SATU’s Western Transvaal Regional A RantsolaseEducation Officer coor-dinating shopstewards and was elected SACCAWU’s regional treasurer – rising to become the union’s regional chair in 1993. Rantsolase was elected the union’s National Treasurer the same year.
Like other members of COSATU, she is a member of the ANC and serves in the movement’s Vaal Region’s disciplinary committee. Challenges faced by women activists Alinah highlights the challenges faced by women activ-
ists within their affiliate unions in terms of convincing the leadership on adoption of gender equity policies and implementation of such policies. Her argument also indicates that the adoption of policies at the COSATU national congresses is fruitless without changing male sexist attitudes that dominate key decision-making structures. It also brings to the fore the fail-ure of the federation to have in place effective system for monitoring pro-gress on gender equity policies, and for making affiliates and leadership accountable.
Growing up in a family of activists prompted, Zingiswa Losi, COSATU’s Second Deputy President to be politically aware at a young age. She cut her teeth in politics in COSAS while she was still at school. She also served in the ANC Youth League structures in the Eastern Cape. “I be-came politically aware at the age of 10 when my two brothers went in exile and little did I know that I will follow them when I grow up,” said Losi.
Losi is a trained soldier and at some point she served in the South African Defence Force for three years. She becomes extremely emotional when she talks about the conditions under which members of the SANDF work, particularly those at lower levels. She described what happened at the un-ion buildings as a gun powder keg that was long waiting to explode as the government has been dragging its feet to improve the working conditions in the army. She said the current COSATU leadership has its work cut out on the matter because it cannot allow a situation where members of the SANDF can be de-unionised. “The issues that are being raised by soldiers are legitimate and the management has not been willing to address them since the integration process took place after 1994,” she said.
After resigning from the army, Losi was employed by Ford, a car manufac-turer in Port Elizabeth in 2002 as an operator in the engine components and assemble division. She later became a quality inspector. In the same year, Losi became a NUMSA shop steward at the plant. At the same time, she served in various NUMSA committees such as finance and education in the Eastern Cape region. As a senior leader of the federation, Losi is acutely aware of the challenges facing the organization. “The critical chal-lenge is that of building a strong federation. To accomplish this task we need to have shop stewards and leaders who are clear about COSATU’s mandate. Our task is also to build strong branches and strengthen our af-
filiates,” said Losi. Another issue that Losi highlighted as critical for the cur-rent COSATU leadership is to ensure that women swell the ranks of the federation’s leadership. “I would love to see women taking their rightful place in the federation not for the purposes of achieving gender equity, but for the transformation of the broader society. This will go a long way to-wards eradicating the patriarchal tendencies that still exist in our society,” she said. Losi has a passion for drawing, something that now is going to take a back seat as she will have to immerse herself on the federation’s work. Apart from drawing, she enjoys spending quality time with her family.
2018 in the 13th National Congress, She was elected as the new Cosatu President, taking over from comrade Sidumo Dlamini
Tyotyo James, COSATU’s First Deputy President grew up as a fine rugby player. His prowess on the field of play attracted the attention of a NUM organizer who was on a recruitment drive in Welkom in 1984, where James worked as a miner for the President Steyn Mine. During this time there was a massive recruitment drive in my area and one of the NUM or-ganisers who saw me playing rugby visited me at the mine’s hostel and convinced me that my rugby skills could be better utilized in the union,” said James.
Tyotyo James Given the pathetic working conditions that were prevailing in the mine, James felt compelled to join the union. Since 1984, James has-n’t looked back. In 1989, he has become the shop steward at the mine. Two years later, he was elected as the Deputy Branch Secretary at the same mine.
James’ dedication to the work of the union saw him climbing the ladder and being elected as the branch chairperson. His leadership qualities were not only recognized by the branch members in the mine, but they caught the attention of the regional structure which subsequently elected him as the NUM’s deputy regional chairman in 1996.
In October last year, James was elected as the Free State regional chair-person, a position he held until the 10th COSATU Congress in September where he was elected as the Federation’s First Deputy President .
James said that he was humbled by the confidence the delegates shown in him and vowed not to disappoint them.
He attributed his rise in the NUM and COSATU’s leadership structures to the passion he has for everything that he does. I derive pleasure from see-ing things getting accomplished,” said James.
His preferred leadership style is that of being honest and open. I always enjoy a situation where union members are free to approach me anytime and on any issue,” he said. His vision for COSATU is to see the federation adhering to the tradition of its forebears, that of focusing on issues affect-ing the poor and being a coherent organization believing in a collective leadership.
As one of the most influential labour federation in the continent, James said that COSATU work harder in strengthening and sustaining the rela-tions it had with other federations internationally. Also part of my vision is to see us ultimately realizing socialism in this country said James. If he is not locked up in meetings discussing issues affecting the workers and the poor James loves to listen to jazz. And since he doesn’t play rugby any-more, he spends his spare time by exercising.
She was born, grew up and attended school in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria.
In 1984 she was employed by Pick ‘n Pay and joined the Retail and Allied Workers Union (RAWU) as a rank and file member and this Union, to-gether with the Hotel And Restaurant Workers Union (HARWU) later merged into the Commercial and Catering Workers Union of South Africa (CCAWUSA). This where her ideological acumen was sharpened and her organised labour activist initiated.
During the period between 1987 and 1989, CCAWUSA unfortunately suf-fered a split, with the two parts declaring themselves the right successors in title thus fighting to maintain the right to use the CCAWUSA name. CO-SATU intervened and following the adoption of the position of One Indus-try, One Union, the two factions in the split reconciled and SACCAWU was born.
Cde Boitumelo was elected as a Shopsteward in 1988, subsequent to which she was elected (in 1990) into the Executive Committee and later in that same year elected as Chairperson of the Pretoria Local. This auto-matically qualified her to be a member of the Regional Executive Commit-tee.
SACCAWU structures recognised her commitment and leadership abilities and tasked her to form part of the programmes to establish Gender struc-tures. In this context and having appreciated the reality that there was a need to compel companies to support women emancipation within the workplace, particularly in the Retail Sector (where young women workers are in the majority), the struggle of Child Care Facilities in the workplace became the primary
objective. She was also a strong protagonist in the struggle to ensure that women workers are not exposed to long working hours without due regard for safety, security and wellness of working mothers.
She was instrumental and part of the activists that were key to the strug-gles for and achievement of the Parental Rights Agreement, which to date remains one of the most progressive in the Country, which provides for 9 months paid maternity leave. This represents a milestone yet to be matched in SACCAWU and many other unions.
She was a members of the Regional Education Committee and had coor-dinating responsibility as a worker. In 1999 she was elected to the position of 1st Deputy President of SACCAWU, and allocated as a NOB designated to oversee Gender and Education amongst other responsibilities. During this period, she served in the Central Executive Committees of both SAC-CAWU and COSATU.
In 2013 when the then-President could not continue serving as President, Cde Louisa became the Acting President, until 2017 when she was for-mally elected to the position of President by Congress, a position she still holds today.
The comrade served and continues to serve her union with distinction and has been tasked or delegated to represent it at various institutions and or-ganisations both with the beyond the borders of South Africa. Amongst others, she represents SACCAWU in COSATU through active participation in the Gender Structure as well as Industrial Relations Committee.
Internationally she serves in various UNI Global Union structures including the Global Commerce Committee, Women’s Committee globally. She has also represented COSATU in a number of missions and was part of the mission that was barred from entering Zimbabwe for the purpose of union-to-union engagement.
2018 in the 13th National Congress, Louisa was elected 2nd Deputy President, taking over from comrade Tyotyo James
Comrade Solly Phetoe grew up in the farming area of Broederstroom, an area located between Brits and Lanseria airport.
And later moved to Skeerport where he grew with her grandmother after the death of his father. He did primary school until grade 7 [then standard 5] and completed his standard six at Kleifontein around Brits before he went to a boarding school at Hans Kekana High school in Hammanskraal where he completed his Matric.
He furthered his studies at the Eden College of Braamfontein in Business Leadership and Management, completed a Certificate in Dispute Resolu-tion Procedures and Organizing Skills with DITSELA, and also completed Computer Studies through Ambassador Training and Development.
The school was under the draconian rule of the former Bophuthatswana regime under Mangope. The school became a focal point of student activ-ism and that’s where he learned about the struggle against oppression.
‘I started working at the Firestone company in 1982 as a machine operator and joined MAWU [before NUMSA was established in 1987]. We partici-pated in the process of merging of MAWU and MICWU’, said Phetoe
‘As workers we were united to fight against exploitation at the point of pro-duction. In NUMSA, I became a Shopsteward and later was appointed as a full-time Shopsteward in the tyre industry. And I served in various sub-committees such as the Public Relations Unit. And also became a national negotiator under NUMSA for the tyre and rubber sector’
During the burning of the Anc I was the branch secretary under the structure called action committee, I played a role for the unbarning of the Anc during apartheid time the 1980.s, work with Trac ( transvaal action committee) fighting against eviction of poor communities and farm workers, I mainly played a role in communities such as Braklagte Mmutse, Hartbeesfontein, also fighting against incorporation of those areas in to Bophutatswana,played role in down fall of Mangope
In short ,in 2000 I joined Sadtu as provincial organizer, 2003 elected as the provincial secretary of cosatu till 2015 and DGS in 2015 national Congress
I have represented the federation in the South African Qualification Author-ity [SAQA] Standards Governing Body during the formation of the SETA’s where we led the campaign on skills revolution at the workplace’,said Solly Phetoe
He has participated in the Tyre Training Board acting as Deputy Chairper-son and was responsible to oversee formulation of Recognition of Prior Learning Policies in the sector.
Solly Phetoe has been part of the teams which developed and imple-mented various training manuals for organisers and shop stewards on key union work such as Labour Relations Act [LRA], Skills Development Act [SDA] and the Basics Conditions of Employment Act [BCEA]
He has been instrumental to ensure that employers comply with Occupa-tional Health and Safety legislation and visited many workplaces in liaison with the Department of Labour, to enforce these pieces of legislation.
He has been leading the Brits COSATU Local as a chairperson for almost fifteen years and the Local became the most vibrant structure in that re-gion.
He has practised Back to Basics campaign at various levels of the federa-tion.
2018 in the 13th National Congress, he was elected for the second time to the position of Deputy General Secretary of Cosatu.