labour hero is no more

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

Veteran trade unionist, ANC MP and a leading campaigner against the government's Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy, John Gomomo, is no more.

Political parties across the spectrum paid tribute to Gomomo, 62, a former Cosatu president who died at a clinic in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, on Tuesday.

He died after a long illness.

The cabinet, Cosatu, the ANC, parliamentarians and the UDM this week sent their condolences to Gomomo's family.

During its lekgotla this week, the cabinet said Gomomo made an "outstanding contribution" to the country's liberation and the post-apartheid reconstruction process.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe paid tribute to Gomomo for his commitment and loyalty to the cause of the mass democratic movement.

According to Cosatu, Gomomo's life reads like a history of the South African trade union movement.

He led the National Automobile and Allied Workers Union (Naawu) while working at Volkswagen in Uitenhage in the 1970s.

Naawu is one of the unions that merged to form the present National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, of which he became a full-time shop steward in Uitenhage.

Known for leading from the front, Gomomo was one of Cosatu leaders who undertook a public HIV test in a bid to help remove the stigma of the virus.

In 1999, the ANC deployed him to the National Assembly where he took part in portfolio committees for trade and industry, agriculture and land affairs.

At the time of his death, he was the chairman of the public service and administration portfolio committee.

"Comrade Gomomo was a long-standing and dedicated member of the ANC.

"He will be remembered as a true servant of the people, a disciplined and a selfless cadre of the movement," said an ANC caucus statement.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has also extended his condolences to the Gomomo family, friends and colleagues.

Holomisa described Gomomo as an "absolute gentleman" and a "cool-headed individual".

ANC Youth League spokesman Zizi Kodwa said: "We lower our revolutionary banner half mast in honour of one of the architects and champion of workers' rights, freedom, respect, dignity and equality.

"We also express our sincere and deepest condolences to the Gomomo family, Cosatu membership, colleagues and friends."

A date for Gomomo's funeral service is yet to be announced.