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Motsoaledi, Elias (1924–1994)

Lucien van der Walt


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Elias Motsoaledi was born in Sekhukhuneland, South Africa, in 1924, the third of eight children. Coming to Johannesburg for work at 17, Motsoaledi worked in a leather factory from 1943, joined the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in 1945, the African National Congress (ANC) in 1948, and the Leather Workers' Union in 1949, and was fired for his union work. The ANC, the country's main African nationalist organization, was adopting an increasingly confrontational position and developing into a mass-based party, and Motsoaledi was one of several CPSA members elected to its Transvaal executive. He was involved in the Council of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU): formed in 1941 with 100,000 members, CNETU was led by CPSA activists and reached perhaps 150,000 members by the close of World War II ( Alexander 2000 ). CNETU split in 1947 in the wake of the failed general strike launched by its affiliate, the African Mineworkers' Union, but played an important role in the national day of protest against the Suppression of Communism Act in 1950. Motsoaledi was elected CNETU chairman in 1953. The CPSA meanwhile dissolved, and was replaced by the underground South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1953. The 1950s saw the “Congress Alliance” – ANC, the Colored People's Congress, the (white) Congress of Democrats, and the Indian National Congress – organize civil disobedience campaigns, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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