Activist in service since 2006

Mbuso Ngubane, affectionately known as ‘Mbovu, was elected the Deputy General Secretary at Numsa’s 11th National Congress in 2022. Born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal during a very fraught time in our country’s history meant that political activism was never far from the life of comrade Mbuso. As a young man he entered student politics. His leadership roles as provincial secretary within Congress of South African Students [COSAS] and South African Students Congress [SASCO], that inspired his militancy and political consciousness to commit himself to the genuine struggle of the proletariat. As well as holding leadership positions in COSAS and SASCO comrade Mbuso was also the deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party – Youth [YSACP] for KwaZulu-Natal. Training as a young communist intensified his commitment to working class struggles deeply grounded within the Marxist-Leninist traditions.

His commitment to working class politics and the upliftment of workers meant that his natural trajectory would take him in to the labour movement where he joined the trade union Police and Prison Civil Rights Union [POPCRU] as Provincial organiser working his way up to regional organiser. While at POPCRU comrade Mbuso developed a good scope of experience discerning that:

“When I worked at POPCRU which is a public sector union, I was privileged to be exposed to the structures of COSATU. It was then that I got exposed to all the various types of unions. This then led to me developing an interest in the private sector unions.  Since I was once part of the student movement, I found that private sector unions also had similar ideologies and beliefs that I had developed as a politically conscious student. I felt that I had common interests of the working class struggles within the private sector unions. I believed that there was a genuine fight of the proletariat within this private sector. I was inspired by their political consciousness and the militancy they displayed. This then pushed me to make a conscious decision to join Numsa. Even though I took on a downgraded position of a local organiser, I believed in the cause of the metalworkers and joined the union.”

The year comrade Mbuso joined Numsa was 2006 as a local organiser, 16 years before he became the deputy general secretary of the same union. Having worked in POPCRU a public sector union it became apparent to comrade Mbuso that the public sector trade unions were more equipped to defend themselves than their counterparts in the private sector. Comrade Mbuso observed that he believed the reason why there was both space for negotiations and better conditions of employment within the public sector and that workers were in the public sector were more likely to be managed by comrades or understood the history of exploitation in this country. However, the working class in the private sector, especially in sectors Numsa organises are exposed to the outright vagaries of capitalism. They are deeply exploited and oppressed by the bosses whose only desire is to turn a profit, rather than contributing to build a better society.

Being a Numsa organiser provided educational and enriching experience that helped groom him into being a leader that he is today.

“I was provided with opportunities to prove myself by being deployed in many companies that had serious challenges. I was also trusted by many locals with a lot of tasks that were outside my jurisdiction. I learned later that this was done to groom me to be a Regional Secretary. These comrades had made a collective decision that they wanted me to be their candidate for the Regional Secretary position in the then upcoming regional elections.”

Comrade Mbuso has exhibited without fail his abilities to lead. This quality has always been apparent from his time in the student to his current position as the Deputy Secretary General of Numsa.

Despite his strong leadership skills, it was not always an easy path as he had inherited a region that was divided. This did not deter him as he was clear he had a mission to unite the region for it to thrive, stating that:

“It was a difficult process to unite the region, but I pushed for all to unite under getting work done, our main focus was service delivery and growth of our membership” I would create social gatherings that allowed us all to interact beyond the boardrooms and workplaces. This allowed the comrades to be more relaxed and to get to know one another beyond unionism and workplaces. Everyone started getting along and we got to work to grow KZN to be a force and a voice to be heard in the organisation and outside.”

His achievement in KwaZulu-Natal is all too apparent with the region currently boasting more than 50 000 united members. As a newly elected Deputy General Secretary comrade Mbuso does not shy away from the fact that there is still more to be done at Numsa. He wants a truly unified union that is sacrosanct. “Without unity, the organisation will not be able to prosper. To achieve that I believe that we need co-ordination and synergy of the work from the OCCB department. As well as all regions to support the work of departments like the Education, Research, Legal department and our communication structures, to ensure quality services.  We need to have a strong machinery at the centre that constantly has its ear to the ground to ensure a flow of communication that is two ways between the members and the leaders.

Staff is to be provided with quality working tools to ensure that they deliver without fail. I also believe that traditional sectors should do away with the mentality that it is them vs the new sectors. We are all one, with a common goal of socialism in our lifetime. We must also join forces with civil society movements and international counterparts support working class campaigns across the world. As working class as a class is exploited and oppressed by capitalism. The global nature of capitalism means that our struggle must have a global character.

“Numsa is compelled to act in the international arena to unite workers of the world and fight against capitalism.”

“Workers of the world unite” from shop floors across the world, “you have nothing to lose but your chains.

Mbuso Ngubane’s political credentials

  • COSAS provincial Secretary

  • SACCSA General Secretary

  • SASCO provincial Deputy Secretary

  • Deputy secretary of YSACP

  • Branch Executive Committee of ANC

  • SACP District committee members

  • POPCRU regional organiser

  • NUMSA local organiser

  • NUMSA regional Secretary

  • NUMSA Deputy General Secretary

“United we stand, divided we fall” – Mbuso Ngubane