The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) mourns the passing away of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) General Secretary-Comrade Kolekile David Sipunzi-on 25 December 2020. We further extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and his working-class constituency.
Exploited at the point of production at Harmony, on one hand, and oppressed at a social level, on the other, Comrade Sipunzi understood that the liberation of South Africa and the African working-class, in particular, had to take place through a multifaceted class struggle. His working-class activism was activated after joining the NUM in 1985. This was the same year the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was established. During this period, Comrade Sipunzi was involved in a struggle to overthrow the apartheid regime and its repressive industrial/workplace relations.
Comrade Sipunzi’s rise within the layers of NUM cannot be separated from historical moments/conditions that shaped South Africa’s political, social, and economic landscape pre and post the 1994 democratic breakthrough. In 2015, Comrade Sipunzi was elected as a General Secretary at the 15th NUM National Congress. The National Congress tasked him and his leadership collective to renew and reconstruct the NUM by going back to basics. This decision was a consequence of unforgettable seismic shifts that affected the unity of the working-class. The turning points include but not limited to the Marikana tragedy, internal divisions within the Tripartite Alliance, and sequential ruptures in COSATU and its affiliates such as NUM and SATAWU, etc.
The passing of Comrade Sipunzi comes at a time the South African working-class is at its most vulnerable stage in development. The current health and economic crisis have aggravated the precarity of workers as a result of a collapsing social protection system, hyper industrial restructuring, retrenchments, and undermining of collective bargaining, etc. Though the current lockdown regulations affected the NUM’s revitalisation process, Comrade Sipunzi remained committed to serving the interests of the industrial proletariat. He equally supported SATAWU in its efforts to steer the union towards greater heights. His contribution to the ever complex and permanent workers’ struggle will always be remembered.
𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠-𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐏𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐍𝐨𝐛𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐚!!!
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