Pretoria - The regional chairperson of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) in Tshwane, Nkhetheni Muthavhi, was yesterday unveiled as the new national union deputy general secretary.
This was announced during the workers union’s national march in Joburg, after Muthavhi was elected into the position on Wednesday night at the ordinary central executive committee in Boksburg.
A firebrand in labour politics, Muthavhi has been at the helm of the regional structure since 2019.
His life in labour politics was shaped by his humble beginnings as a petrol attendant. At the time he was also pursuing his studies in municipal administration at Tshwane University of Technology in the 1990s.
The 46-year-old worked as a petrol attendant for five years, and it was his first job. He attributed his success to humility and hard work, which developed him as a person and into a formidable leader.
In 2003, he started working in the City of Tshwane as a contract worker and he is currently a superintendent in production at the Pretoria West power station.
Muthavhi was also involved in student politics.
“When I came to the City in 2003 I experienced the exploitation of contract workers, especially how they were treated differently from permanent workers. That activated that thing within me that I need to be the voice of the voiceless,” he said.
He believes a good leader needs to be a very humble person and always responsive to people’s grievances.
“Those are some of the characteristics that people look at and say this person can lead us. I relate to anyone in the working environment.”
On June 5, 2015 he was elected as the provincial Samwu chairperson in Gauteng, but he lasted until February 2016.
Muthavhi believes the union must be preoccupied with fighting for equality and workers’ rights at all times.
He announced that Tshwane municipal workers would next week embark on lunch-hour pickets to reject the zero percent wage and salary increase for 2023/24 proposed by the metro.
Workers, he said, were aggrieved by the current administration, which also didn’t give them a salary increase in 2021/22.
He has constantly highlighted that the City is still faced with addressing the issues of pay parity among the workers.
Workers were also troubled by issues such as occupational health and safety, always lamenting about shortage of uniforms or not having tools of the trade, he said.
He previously told the Pretoria News that he looked up to former president Thabo Mbeki.