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By: Ngoako Matsha
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) held its inaugural Youth Summit at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg in May under the theme: Youth rising in defence and advancement of the NUM – and the overarching slogan: Relax Mchana NUM is here to stay. The conference was attended by over three hundred young worker delegates from all eleven NUM regions. The launch of the NUM Youth Forum is a celebrated milestone for the 30 years old union.
The youth structure was formed in response to a study conducted by the Society for the Sociology of Work (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand on behalf of the union showed that the majority of NUM members are young people. According to the SWOP study about 54% of NUM members are young people between the ages of 18 and 39. But the age limit for membership of the youth forum would be 35. The aims of the youth structure includes advocacy on youth issues, health awareness, improving access to education and training, ideological development and recruiting new members.
When speaking on the need and space for young workers structure, NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni said: “The establishment of such a forum is in itself an important milestone for the union and would take forward the Cosatu‘s commitment towards the development of young workers,” said Baleni. Young NUM members are more militant in their demands, require special attention. The Youth Forum would be a breeding ground for future leaders of the union and would champion the rights and interest of young workers whilst helping to strengthen the union.
The proposal to establish the NUM youth desk was made by the NUM President Senzeni Zokwana at the 2010 Central Committee. In 2011 the initiative to launch NUM youth desk was given a green light with interim structure appointed until a youth summit could be held. In 2012 this proposal was adopted as a resolution in the 14th NUM national congress of the NUM held at Emperors Palace.
NUM hopes the youth forum would be a breeding ground for future leaders of the union and would champion the rights and interest of young workers whilst helping to strengthen the union. The youth forum will work closely with other progressive youth formation, such as Young Communist League of South Africa, ANC YL and SASCO. More importantly, it was very clear at the summit that young workers were convinced that there is a necessity for such structure.
The conference unanimously elected the following comrades to lead the newly formed structure: Comrade Vuyisa Konzai (Chairperson), Comrade Sabelo Mgotywa (Secretary), Peterson Siyaya (Deputy Secretary: membership and campaigns co-ordinator), Lopang Disipi (Deputy Chair: transformation co-ordinator), Yingwani Mahumane (Treasure: Internship, learnership and skills co- coordinator), Vuyo Bangani (Ideological and Political Officer), Rosina Fotoyi (Sport Recreation Arts and Culture).