AS THE debate over whether members of different arms of the ruling alliance can serve the ANC, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu simultaneously, the movement mourns the death of Curtis Nkondo, the first deputy president of Sadtu, who also dedicated his life to the ANC and civic society.
Nkondo died at the age of 82, having played a leading role in every facet of the liberation struggle and subsequent efforts to build a democratic South Africa.
He departs as the organisation hails the role of veterans and calls for their direct participation in the future direction of the ANC broad church. Yesterday, leaders of the ANC, Cosatu, SACP and the SA National Civics Organisation celebrated his life during a memorial service at Regina Mundi in Soweto.
This week President Jacob Zuma announced that Nkondo - who died on December 3 while high commissioner to Namibia - would be granted an official provincial funeral.
The funeral will be held at St Charles Catholic Church in Victory Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Throughout his life, Nkondo was hailed for his passion for better education, having been a high school teacher for 20 years at Pimville High School in Soweto and principal of Lamula High School in Meadowlands.
The ANC said: "Comrade Curtis was a tireless champion of the people's education for people's power and a true patriot to the end.
"He had great passion for education. He always emphasised the importance of learning."
In the mid-70s, Nkondo "played an active role in the Soweto Teachers Action Committee that emerged after the June 1976 riots and was also involved in the English Language Teaching Information Centre".
He endured repeated arrest, detention and torture in the 70s and 80s.
Cosatu said Nkondo was the "founding president of the National Education Union of South Africa and was elected as the first deputy president of its successor, Sadtu, at its launch in 1990".
In 1983, Nkondo was elected as vice president of the United Democratic Front in Cape Town and in 1985 was elected chairperson of the Release Mandela Campaign, Cosatu said.
"He was banned as a teacher, imprisoned and subjected to house arrests, when he could only have one visitor at a time."
After 1994, Nkondo became an MPL in the Gauteng legislature and was involved in the Association against Women and Child Abuse and the Etwatwa Community Trust.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: "Cosatu pays tribute to a stalwart liberation fighter who inspired generations of activists with his commitment to the struggle for a non-racial, equal education system and who will continue to be a role model for generations of students to come."
Nkondo is survived by Rose, his wife of 52 years, four children and grandchildren.