NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Numsa mourns the passing away for former MAWU General secretary and longest serving NUMSA official Comrade Thembu Nkuna (Nabe)

23 October 2013, Posted in Press Releases

The National Office Bearers (NOBs’) of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) woke-up to the tragic news that comrade Thembi Nkuna (Nabe), the former General Secretary of our forerunner the Metal and Allied Workers Union (MAWU), is no more.

Comrade Nkuna (Nabe) was a Mawu shop steward from 1978, a General Secretary of Mawu; a staff member of Mawu/Numsa from 1982 – 2011 (33 years) and retired from Numsa in 2011.

Comrade Nkuna (Nabe) succumbed to death after courageous years of unflinching commitment and dedication to the Metalworkers Union and the broader struggles of the cheaply-paid and exploited workers. A mighty tree has fallen, a giant trade unionist and heroine of the trade union movement has left us to join the land of the departed, a courageous fighter of workers has gone, but not for good, her immortal revolutionary ideas still loom large. Her death is a huge loss not only to Numsa, but to Cosatu and whole Congress movement.

We shed our tears in grief for losing such a brilliant Cadre and great servant of the workers. Although nature had endowed her with considerable talents, she used her talents unselfishly to build worker’s power from below. A mother to her offspring, but also a mother figure to many generations that came to join Numsa.

We are shattered and can’t even explain the grief and pain we feel, because comrade Nkuna (Nabe) occupied a special role in the hearts and minds of our members. Death cannot be proud for taking away from us such a humble and caring leader of the workers. Our red revolutionary flags are flying half mask, not because of death’s orders, but as a sign of respect to our dearest comrade Nkuna (Nabe), who was a source of inspiration and fountain of knowledge in our struggle to extricate workers from apartheid poverty wages and apartheid created squalid slums, townships and hostels, that continue to characterise and define the racialised living conditions of Black African workers, 19 years of our freedom.

Our fond memories of comrade Nkuna (Nabe) will live with us for longer and more. Those memories will be celebrated by many a different generations to come within Numsa. She taught us that being a leader is not about being in a leadership position. A true leader emerges out of concrete struggles waged on the ground. Hence, when MAWU, merged with other smaller unions to form Numsa, in May 17, 1987, she relinquished her position of being General Secretary, and became a full-time official, working in the Finance Unit, for many years. A decision nowadays people will resist to make, but instead they will plot and smear an elected leader occupying the position of General Secretary, in order to use the position to advance factional and sectarian agendas.

Though comrade Nkuna (Nabe) can’t breathe and talk to us anymore, we will continue to be guided by her advises as we take to the streets to reject the neo-liberal embedded policies, such as the National De-industrialisation Plan (NDP). Though she will be peacefully resting in her golden deck, in spirit she will be with us, when we fight for the scrapping of e-tolls, which are nothing else, but a commodification and privatization of our public roads. Though she will now be in great company of her former colleagues in the land of the departed, such as Jabulile Ndlovu, John Gomomo, Mtutuzeli Tom and others, she will continue talking to Numsa to fight for the radical and full implementation of the Freedom Charter, as part of dealing with the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality, that continues to ravage our people, especially the working class and the poor.

As Numsa, we send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. We find solace that she joins other gallant leaders of Numsa in the land of the departed. There can be no doubt that we have lost an unsung heroine in the greater national liberation struggle in general and the struggle of South African workers against Apartheid in particular.

Mhlab’awunoni; Hamba kahle Qabane!

Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson
Mobile: 0810111137
Tel (dir): 0116891702
Twitter: @castrongobese