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