Guest Column

Cedric Gina: An ineffable voice gone too soon

2019-02-03 06:00
Cedric Gina died at a Durban hospital early on Monday morning.

Cedric Gina died at a Durban hospital early on Monday morning.

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As we grudgingly concede defeat against nature and prepare to lay comrade Gina to his final resting place, we need to draw courage from his relentless sacrifices to build maximum unity amongst workers, writes Castro Ngobese.

Just before the crack of dawn on Tuesday, we woke up to the painful and tragic news that one of our country's upright and astute trade unionists, comrade Sabelo Cedric Gina, has ceased to think and breath. He was barely 47 years old.

He was one of a few vociferous and critical voices of the working class in post-apartheid South Africa. He was arguably destined for a greater role in the broader political reconstruction and socio-economic development of our country outside the trade union movement.

Gina was part of a generation that cut its political teeth in the trade union movement, especially within Numsa and Cosatu. It was not a surprise that at the tender age of 29 years, he was elected to the most powerful position in metalworkers union Numsa. From being its second deputy president, he rose through the ranks to being its president at a time the union boasted a total membership of more than 340 000 red and militant members.

During his tenure at the helm of the union, the union embodied the best and finest traditions of a democratic, anti-capitalist, militant, class orientated and worker-controlled fighting weapon of the toiling and exploited workers.

READ: Ramaphosa pays tribute as condolences for former Numsas president continue to pour in

Comrade Gina was a principled, honest, committed and fearless communist until the end. It was by no mistake that he spoke openly against the SACP's decision to amend its constitution for the position of general secretary to be part-time. He believed the decision would weaken the party and diminish its influence, voice and role in working class struggles against neoliberalism and a struggle to build a socialist South Africa.

He was chastised by party leadership and personally attacked. But he stood his ground and continued to be an active member of the party, because he knew that the party belonged to its membership, and not the front table.

Gina was a disciplinarian too and expected the highest quality in one's work. He was always willing to listen and offer guidance to any official, whenever one experienced personal problems or challenges outside his work. He was more of a father figure, this was his biggest strength, and made him to be loved by union officials, young and old.

As we grudgingly concede defeat against nature and prepare to lay comrade Gina to his final resting place, we need to draw courage from his relentless sacrifices to build maximum unity amongst workers, irrespective of their trade union logos or t-shirt colours, to end inequality and exploitation in the workplace and society. We need a new breed of trade union activists who are going to link workplace and community struggles, as a way to reverse the power and influence of capital over our organisations, and against its continued attack on our chosen path of development as defined in the Freedom Charter.

The grinding poverty, high levels of inequality and mass poverty facing the historically disenfranchised and marginalised black majority, as a result of our apartheid legacy and colonial past, call on all of us to embrace the "New Dawn" and push for the radical and uninterrupted implementation of the 54th national conference resolutions of the ANC.

The working class's patience is not permanent, and the signs are there for all to see, as reflected in violent service delivery protests and struggles for decent wages in the workplace or through struggles for free education.

As we bid farewell to this great servant of the working class, we need to rise to the occasion and elect ethical and incorruptible leaders amongst us to serve our people and country. Whenever we will be visiting his resting place, it will never be an acceptance of death's vengeance, but to continuously communicate important victories we will have scored for the class and its allies.

One of our immediate tasks – let us nurture a million more Cedric Ginas!

- Castro Ngobese is a former national spokesperson of Numsa (2009-2016). He currently works for the Gauteng Provincial Government.

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