Last updated: 08 June 2011
Chris Ndodebandla Dlamini was born in Swaziland and moved to South Africa at the age of four. He was a fierce and dedicated trade unionist and political activist who from an early age, took an interest in politics. At the tender age of twelve, when he heard the speeches of the late Walter Sisulu and former president Nelson Mandela in which they addressed audiences in a Transvaal township to seek support for the ANC. Even at this age, comrade Chris was already aware of the political situation in the country at the time, as his father from Swaziland often visited him and his mother and was arrested and had to pay bail to be released as the marriage was not recognized in South Africa.
In 1963, he started working as a warehouse manager in Springs, Johannesburg and ten years later he became a founder member and the treasurer of the Steel, Engineering and Allied Workers' Union where workers won an extra Christmas bonus during the union's first protest.
After this, he worked for Kellogg's, also in Springs where he joined the Food and Allied Workers' Union. Here, he started off as a shop steward in 1979 until 1994. He was also the President of FAWU from 1979 until 1993 while at the same time being President of the Federation of SA Trade Unions from 1981 to 1985.It is here where he played a crucial role in the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in 1985, where he was elected as its first ever 1st Deputy President and remained until 1994.I nv 1994 he was elected into Parliament as an ANC Chief whip. In 1997, he resigned from Parliament to become the ambassadors of North Korea, China and Mongolia respectively. Comrade Chris had his fair share of trouble with the apartheid government and was twice detained under the Internal Security Act for three days in 1982, a month in 1984 and 10 days in 1986.
In 2001, he returned to FAWU to run its investment wing until 2006 when it was reintegrated into the office of the General Secretary.
Comrade Chris remain steadfast in his support of worker issues. Although frail and just discharged from the hospital, he made a surprise appearance at COSATU's 10th National Congress in September 2009 where he demanded support for the federation's policies and the key roles of trade unions in the formation of government policies that affect workers and the unemployed. He also called upon migrant workers to mobilize or face Comrade Chris was a shining example of a leader who did not care about material things. He spent his last couple of years farming on a modest smallholding in Delmas, Mpumalanga. On 19 November 2009, Comrade Chris passed away after a battle with a ruptured ulcer. He leaves behind his wife, Busi, seven children, seven grandchildren , two brothers and two sisters.
FAWU salutes a great comrade and friend who was committed to the revolution until the very end. We will take forward the workers' struggle and lift the spear on the road towards worker's liberation!
Hamba Kahle Comrade Chris Dlamini!!!!