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Statement on the Passing of Veteran Trade Unionist, ANC and Communist Party Stalwart, Comrade Archibald Mncedisi Sibeko

30th March 2018

It is with great sadness that the African National Congress has learnt of the passing of cde Archibald Mncedisi Sibeko on 27 March 2018 in Manchester, UK this week.

As a student of agriculture, turned railway worker, he joined the South African Railway and Harbours Workers Union (SARHWU) in 1936, setting the scene for a lifetime of involvement in the South African trade union movement. At the time of his death, he was the honorary President of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union - SATAWU (a merger between SAHRWU and the Transport and Allied Workers Union), a position he held since the early 1990s.

As a trade unionist, he saw the link between the shopfloor struggles of workers and the struggle for national liberation, and became a member of the Communist Party and the ANC. With other trade unionists of the time, they later formed the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), laying the basis for the Tripartite Alliance which exists up to today.

Cde Archie Sibeko (or Zola Zembe - cde ZZ - by his later exile name), was part of the Defiance campaign volunteers and was arrested and part of the Treason Trial of 1956. He left the country as part of the Western Cape contingent and went for military training. He became the Camp Commander at Kongwa, near Dodoma in Tanzania and participated in the Wankie and Sipelelo campaigns.

He was later assigned to be part of the international campaign to isolate apartheid South Africa, and traveled all over the world, mobilising especially his comrades in the global progressive trade union movement, whilst remaining part of the SACTU leadership in exile.

Upon the unbanning of the ANC, cde ZZ returned to Cape Town, he was elected deputy chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape, and continued to work in the trade union movement.

His political and union work included quelling the taxi wars in the Western Cape and running SARHWU nationally. Cde Sibeko suffered a stroke in 1991 and had to go back to UK in Manchester where his wife Dr Joyce Leeson looked after him.

In addition to his political and trade union life, cde Archie Sibeko also authored and co-authored five books, and later in life became a landscape artist of some note. He received many awards, including the Order of Luthuli (Silver).

Cde Archie Sibeko worked tirelessly for a united non-racial trade union movement, and for workers' rights and through his tireless efforts his legacy will continue to live on.

On behalf of the leadership and the entire membership of the ANC, we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Dr. Joyce Leeson, his daughter Shula and other family members, and to all his comrades and friends.

Hamba kahle Mkhonto. May his soul rest in peace.

Issued by the African National Congress

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Pule Mabe
ANC National Spokesperson
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