Biographies

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.