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Mbuyiselo Ngwendah

1964 - 1999

Worker leader, communist, revolutionary!

mbuyi.jpg (3649 bytes)


 COSATU, the SACP and the workers of South Africa have lost  a thinker, a fighter and a leader!

 Hamba Kahle Comrade Mbuyi!

COSATU, indeed each and every South African worker, is devastated by the sudden and untimely death of National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa General Secretary, Mbuyiselo Ngwenda. Comrade Mbuyi, who died on 10 March 1999.

Although Comrade Mbuyi struggled with poor health in the recent weeks, everybody believed that he was on his way to recovery. His sudden death comes as a shock to his family, friends and comrades.

Comrade Mbuyi Ngwenda was a worker leader in a class of his own. He was a true revolutionary, and an educator. Like hundreds of other freedom-loving comrades, Mbuyi, did not know his youth as he sacrificed those years in the struggle for the National Democratic Revolution and socialism.

Comrade Mbuyi emerged through the ranks of the labour movement, as a member of NUMSA at Volkswagen, rising to become a Shopsteward, an organiser, an educator, a COSATU Eastern Cape Regional Secretary, NUMSA General Secretary and member of the Central Committee and Politburo of South African Communist Party.

He was a grassroots activist and member of the African National Congress underground structures. For this, Mbuyi, like millions of others, spent years of detention without trial, often being subjected to severe torture at the hands of the infamous apartheid police force.

Comrade Mbuyi's death represents a terrible loss not only to the entire labour movement but the National Democratic Revolution and the struggle for socialism. He was young and energetic - an organic intellectual who was loved and respected by his colleagues in NUMSA and all the COSATU affiliates, as well as in the SACP, and throughout the Alliance and the
Democratic Movement as a whole.

This loss to COSATU cannot be quantified. We mourn his passing away as we celebrate his life. Our only consolation is the legacy he leaves behind. It will be remembered for decades to come.

We pass our condolences to his wife, children, family friends and comrades.  

NUMSA Mourns Comrade Mbuyiselo Ngwenda!

Comrade Mbuyiselo Ngwenda passed away on the night of Wednesday, 10th March 1999, after a short and painful illness. NUMSA is deeply shocked by the sudden and untimely death f its General Secretary Comrade Mbuyiselo Ngwenda at the youthful age of 35 years. The labour movement as whole has lost a consistent and charismatic leader of the workers. He
was a fearless campaigner and fighter for the rights of workers. He steered many workers' programs and dedicated all of his life to the national democratic revolution.

The memorial service for the late General Secretary of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa Mbuyiselo Ngwenda, will be held at the City Hall, Johannesburg, on Tuesday 16 March from 13:00 15:00. The main speakers for the service will be Mbhazima Shilowa, COSATU General Secretary , Charles Nqakula SACP Chairperson, Vincent Mabuyakhulu, Numsa First Vice President, and a speaker from the ANC. The funeral for the late Numsa General Secretary will in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.


Comrade Mbuyi joined the struggle in the 1970s as the media and publicity officer for the Port Elizabeth Youth Congress, which was affiliated to the United Democratic Front. In 1984, he was arrested and put into detention and was released in 1986. He was then employed in the same year at Volkswagen South Africa, in Uithage. It was at Volkswagen where Ngwenda's intelligence was noticed by NUMSA and he was immediately elected as a shop steward. Two years later the union appointed him as a factory education officer and later made him in charge of education in the whole Eastern Cape region.

Teaching labour politics was no problem for the charismatic and soft-spoken leader of the workers. In 1990, he was elected an executive member of the regional executives of both the ANC and SACP. He worked with labour movement heavyweights such as John Gomomo, Mbhazima Shilowa, former NUMSA president Daniel Dube and his predecessor Enoch Godongwana. He was elected as COSATU regional secretary and member of the executive committee to deal with economic strategies. He was also a member of the ANC and SACP central committees and political Bureaus, as well as the COSATU Executive Committee.

Comrade Mbuyi also served in the Executive committee of the International Metal Workers( IMF), the IDC Executive Board and the ESKOM Electricity Board.


He was married to Shalati, a nursing sister, with whom he had two children.

NUMSA has lost a good leader who had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and was always prepared to teach others. He will be a great loss for workers and the mass democratic movement. His humble example in his daily work of leading the workers will be missed by the toiling masses. He will also be sorely missed by all negotiators of the federation in their daily
work of negotiating and fighting for a better life for all working men and women.


Future workers will be made of generations of men like him. He left us his example, and, as the final fruit of his clear mind, his Spartan character and his heart of steel steel for sacrifice for the rights of workers, for suffering of many impoverished noble people. His intelligence, his heart and his calm hand will be remembered by the metal workers.

Comrade Mbuyi was a talented and capable person. His ideas and tactics will be with the workers eternally. He was imbued with a sense of lifelong commitment to improving the working and living conditions of the working class, and he always came forward to take a calculated risk. His unfailing confidence and courage to lead saw him taking up the task at the time when the tranition was throwing many organisational challenges to the labour movement.


Comrade Ngwenda's entry into NUMSA was not just perchance: it was just what the doctor ordered for the union. He has placed the union into more strategic role in our economy and has improved the working conditions not only for immediate members but for workers as whole.

NUMSA will keep his memory alive because it helps us to learn and to be better human beings. He was a real symbol of workers during his brief and creative life. He will be remembered for his selflessness, nobility, altruism, and heroism. He was a banner, a model, a fighter. He was a monument to all that is noble to the spirit of justice, reconciliation and peace. In short he
was a model as a fighter and the leader of the working people.


His Revolutionary Activism will be with us forever!  
               Lala Kahle Comrade Mbuyi!