The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in the Eastern Cape has  learnt with shock about the sudden passing away of former SADTU Provincial Chairperson and Chairperson of COSATU, Comrade Tabile Kunene. He  passed away on Saturday the 15th of April 2023 after a short illness.

Comrade Tabile was born in 1970 in the rural village of Xilinxa in the Ngqamakwe Magisterial District. He did his primary education at Xilinxa Junior Secondary School. He furthered his studies at Nyanga Senior Secondary School. He did his tertiary education at Butterworth College of Education studying for the Secondary Teachers Diploma. It was there where he associated himself with the student movement, SANSCO which later became SASCO.

Due to his active role in the student movement, he was among those that were recruited to join SADTU when he started teaching in 1992. He rose through the ranks from being the site steward until he was elected as Regional Secretary of the Eastern Region which is now called Polly Gabada Region. He was also elected as Regional Chairperson of the same region until 2011 when he was elected Provincial Deputy Chairperson.

Comrade Kunene served as SADTU Provincial Chairperson in 2014 and was re-elected SADTU Provincial Chairperson at the 9th Provincial Conference in 2017, a position he held until 2022. His leadership qualities led to his election as COSATU Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson in 2018 and was re-elected in 2022. He also served in the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party in various capacities.

Comrade Kunene was a true champion of workers’ rights and this he showed through his leadership of the union in the various engagements with the employer. He was unflinching in his support for the improvement of working conditions of employees in the education sector and the broader working class. He fought for decent work conditions for workers and public servants in particular. He championed shopfloor struggles and dedicated his energy in defending the gains of the workers. He espoused Marxist- Leninism ideology and had political clarity.

His passing is a huge loss not only to his family but to the country he served with distinction. He will be sorely missed by all in the education sector and his comrades in SADTU. The union is deeply saddened by the loss of such a committed and experienced leader.

We dip our banners in honour of this fallen leader of the workers who led SADTU and COSATU unwaveringly.

We send our sincere condolences to the Kunene family, friends, and comrades in the labour movement.

The memorial service of Comrade Tabile will be held on Thursday 20th ofApril 2023 at WSU Great Hall in Mthatha. This will be preceded by a visit to his family on Wednesday 19 April 2023, in Ngqamakwe.

We wish his family strength and courage in the period of dealing with this loss.

Issued By                   :        Provincial Secretariat

Secretary                    :        Ntame Malibongwe: 066 249 8639

Deputy Secretary      :        Ntombodumo Maqashalala: 060 520 1447