KZN Nehawu man gets national post

2014-06-11 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL National Health and Allied Workers Union provincial secretary Zola Saphetha is the latest provincial union boss to take up a national leadership position within the Cosatu-aligned union.

Saphetha was elected as Nehawu’s deputy general at the union’s special national congress held at the weekend in Gauteng to fill positions left vacant when some of the union’s top brass took positions in Parliament and legislatures.

His elevation comes hot on the election of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa KZN chairperson Basil Cele to the post of union second deputy president.

Yesterday, Saphetha said he was humbled with the confidence shown by those who nominated him.

“Leaders of the union are nominated through structures. When KZN took a decision to release me, they did not ask me how I feel. They reached a determination and I had to comply,” he said.

“I am confident that the KZN and other provinces saw something in me and I will dedicate myself with all the energy that I have to the task at hand and reach the desired outcomes set by the organisation,” he added.

Saphetha cut his political teeth in the student movement and rose through the ranks of the union.

However, his re-election as Nehawu provincial secretary two years ago proved controversial.

Some union members marched to the provincial offices in the Durban to protest against his election and accused him of “dictatorially” suspending four officials.


ZOLA Saphetha is the husband of Arts and Culture MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha.

Saphetha started his political career within the student movement and rose through the union.

He worked as the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s student governance officer in 2008.

Saphetha also served as Nehawu chairperson at the Westville campus branch when it was re-launched the same year.

Later in 2008, he was elected as Nehawu provincial chairperson and later became provincial secretary when the provincial leadership was “reshuffled” after Supa Zuma, now ANC’s Moses Mabhida regional secretary, stepped down as union leader.

Four years later Saphetha was re-elected as provincial secretary.

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