Absolom Zithulele Cindi

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An activist and trade unionist. Secretary General of Black People’s Convention (BPC)s and National Chairperson of Azanian People's Organization (AZAPO).

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Alexandra Township, Johannesburg,South Africa

Absolom Zithulele Cindiwas born in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg in 1950. Cindi began his primary education at Entokozweni Nursery School. The 1960s forced removals saw his family relocating to  Diepkloof in Soweto where subsequently attended Orlando West High School. In October 1968, he was arrested and sentenced to 14 days hard labour for failing to show the security police a “dompass”on the eve of his examinations.

 In 1972 he became part of the Black People’s Convention (BPC) during its formation. Cindi rose through the ranks and became a Secretary General of the BPC in December 1973 at the age of 23. On the 6 December 1973 Cindi wrote a letter of inviting the South West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO), the liberation movement in Namibia to attend the 2nd Annual Congress of the BPC, as observers.

 In September 1974 Cindi was arrested following student ralliesthat were held to celebrate the triumph of FRELIMOin Mozambique. FRELIMO’s victory followed a ten-year liberation war against the Portuguese. He was then charged under the Terrorism Act and became a defendant in the lengthy trial of the South African Student Organisation(SASO) Nine in 1975-76. After guilty verdict of "committing acts capable of endangering the maintenance of law and order," he was sentenced to five years on Robben Island.

 In December 1981, Cindi was released from Robben Island, he wasted no time as he joined AZAPO and two years later (1983) he became the organizing secretary of the National Forum. In 1986 he got involved in trade unionism when became part of the Electrical Workers Union affiliated to the National Council of Trade Unions. In 1989, his passion as a trade unionist earned him the post of assistant General Secretary for the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA). In 2006 Cindi was elected as the National Chairperson of AZAPOa position he still holds.

Cindi is currently the Executive Director at Unity Incorporation.

• Digital Innovation South Africa,‘Interview with Absolom Zithulele Cindi’, [online], Available at https://disa.nu.ac.za[Accessed: 07 October 2011]
• Conciliation Resources: ‘Profiles’, [online] Available at www.c-r.org[Accessed: 07 October 2011]
• Afdev Info, ‘Zithulele Cindi’, [online], Available at www.afdevinfo.com[Accessed: 07 October 2011]

Last updated : 04-Jul-2018

This article was produced for South African History Online on 07-Oct-2011