“Capitalist system still remains the enemy of the working class,
Especially now that it is undergoing the international capitalist crisis.
The struggle is still there.A strong and united trade union movement is what we need.”
Eric “Stalin” Mtshali, in “South African Worker and WFTU, Shoulder to Shoulder”,
It is with great sorrow that we heard about comrade’s Eric “Stalin” Mtshali’s death, a historic figure of the class-oriented trade union movement in South Africa and a firm militant against neocolonialism, apartheid and imperialism.
Comrade Mtshali has always stood as a symbol, representing the common struggle of the South African people along with the World Federation of Trade Unions, an example of internationalism and unequivocal commitment to the world working class in its fight for a world without man-by-man exploitation.
A historic cadre of the WFTU, Mtshali was born in Durban and joined the anti-apartheid movement straight after high school. In 1951, he mobilized workers in the Dock and Harbour Workers Union, and workers in the textile industry to protest against the repressive apartheid state. As he had stated : “At the time, the dockworkers were the most militants, really militant workers. The regime feared the dockworkers.”
He represented South African trade union movement in the WFTU Headquarters in Prague, Czechoslovakia and spent more than 30 years in exile. For him, “The WFTU positions always championed the class positions. Were there was struggle for liberation, WFTU was there. It stood on the side of the oppressed”. He participated in many WFTU missions to Ethiopia and Namibia, organizing trade union organizations. He has also served as member of the Parliament, always loyal to the working class principles.
For us, the WFTU, the words of the “Man of Steel” -as his South African comrades used to call him- that “true liberation will only be achieved when the working class becomes the ruling class” stand as a guide for the struggles of today and tomorrow.
The WFTU militants will never forget the moving moment, during the 17th World Trade Union Congress organized in the land cde. Mtshali fought and bled for, when, during the official opening ceremony he was chosen to raise the WFTU flag before all Congress delegates, inaugurating its works.
The WFTU honored his contribution and his selfless commitment to the working class emancipation ideals on several occasions, such as in Johannesburg, on February 2012, in the framework of an honourable ceremony for the stalwarts of the South African Trade Union Movement.
Dear comrades of COSATU and of SACP, please pass on our condolences to his relatives and assure the whole working class of South Africa that for us, the workers and simple people of the world, he will always remain IMMORTAL. We promise to continue his legacy.
The WFTU Secretariat