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Bill Andrews

WH (Bill) Andrews, born in England in 1870, emigrated to South Africa in 1893. A railway fitter by profession, he helped form the first Trades and Labour Council and in 1909 was the first chairman of the South African Labour Party. Elected to Parliament in 1912, and later to the Provincial Council, he fought to improve the conditions and rights of workers. He introduced the first bill to give the vote to women in South Africa.

He broke with the Labour Party because he refused to support the Botha-Smuts war effort, and in 1915 helped to form the International Socialist League, a predecessor of the Communist Party. In 1921 he was elected the first secretary of the Communist Party, and later became its chairman.

He consistently fought for the full participation of Africans within political organisations, and for black and white workers to stand together against their common enemy. South African workers were represented at many international conferences by Bill Andrews, and the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in Moscow, November 1922, elected Comrade bill to its Executive Committee. He spent most of the following year in Moscow.

In 1924 he was elected the first general secretary of the South African Association of Employees` Organisations, which was later renamed the South African Trade Union Congress. Throughout most of the 1940s he served as Chairman of the Party. He died in 1950.

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SACP 56 Years in the Frontline of Struggle