South Africa: NUM Charts 2021 Priorities After Sudden Death of Its General Secretary


David Sipunzi, the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, died suddenly on Christmas Day. Speaking to Business Maverick, Deputy General Secretary William Mabapa outlined the union's priorities for 2021.

David Sipunzi's death after a brief illness comes against the backdrop of the challenges posed by the pandemic, but also at a time of rising profits for much of the industry. Eskom, where the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has 14,000 members, is also forging ahead with its plans to split into three units.

In February, the NUM will pick an acting general secretary, and a new one will be selected at the union's elective congress in 2022. The soft-spoken Sipunzi, who worked his way up the ranks in the gold mines of the Free State, replaced Frans Baleni at the union's helm in 2015 in a closely contested election after the union lost tens of thousands of members, mostly on the platinum belt, to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Eskom will be a key focus. The union will hold wage talks with the ailing state-run power utility in 2021 as the company moves to split into three units, a process which is expected to be...

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