My eighth “Top Operatives of South African Socialism” profile looks at South African Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Sydney Mufamadi.
Fholisani Sydney Mufamadi was born in 1959 in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. He grew up in Gauteng and Venda.
In 1976 during the spread of the spread of Soweto Uprising,throughout South Africa, Mufamadi joined the Zoutpansberg Students Organisation, which led the boycotts in Venda during October 1977.
After many student leaders were arrested, Mufamadi and others, went underground. When schools re-opened Mufamadi was denied entry and had to put his education on hold.
He moved back to Johannesburg and enrolled at an international Correspondence College and in 1977, joined the African National Congress.
In 1978, Mufamadi was a founder member of the Azanian People’s Organisation and in 1981, joined the South African Communist Party. For his work with AZAPO, Mufamadi spent two months in detention without trial, under section 6 of the Terrorism Act.
In 1984 Mufamadi was detained twice more in the Ciskei for his political activities.
In 1981 Mufamadi, joined the General and Allied Workers Union and participated in a union organised stay-away. His employers saw a newspaper photo of him addressing workers and he was sacked.
Mufamadi began working voluntarily for GAWU and in 1984 was elected General Secretatary of the union.
In 1983 Mufamadi was involved in the launch of the United Democratic Front in Cape Town. He later became Transvaal publicity secretary of the UDF, until he gave up the position in 1990.
In 1985 when the state of emergency was declared, Mufamadi operated underground, resurfacing to help organise the December launch of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in Durban. Mufamadi was was elected Assistant General Secretary of COSATU.
He went underground from June 1986 to October 1986, but was again detained on 8 June 1987 for political activities.
In January 1990 Mufamadi travelled to Lusaka, Zambia to meet with the African National Congress Executive Committee and in 1991 was elected to the party’s central committee. The same year he was elected to the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
In July 1990, Mufamadi was named as one of the South African Communist Party’s, 22 person Interim Leadership Group
Mufamadi was later a SACP delegate at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, working group dealing with the future of the independent Bantustans/ homelands.
Elected to Parliament on an ANC ticket in 1994, Mufamadi was appointed Minister of Safety and Security, by President Mandela, with a mandate to bring crime under control. Widely regarded as a failure in that position, Mufamadi was moved to his current job in 1999.
Mufamadi is a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.