Trade Unionist, Deputy President COSATU, member of the ANC and Member of Parliament, Minister of Human Settlements.
Lives of Courage
Cornelia “Connie” September was born 26 June 1959 in the Western Cape and grew up on the West Coast where her mother would send her for holidays. September began her political activism in the trade union and labour movement. She worked as factory worker in Salt River with little interest in politics or trade unions. This changed in 1982, when she attended a meeting for the community newspaper Grassroots, where politics and workers’ rights were discussed. Subsequently, she became an active member of community organizations in the Cape. She served in the Lotus River and Grassy Park (LOGRA), which was formed in 1979 as an umbrella organization for a number of ratepayers and resident organizations.
September was also part of youth political activists serving in other civic organizations. It was while working in Salt River that she began her work in the trade union movement. In 1983, September helped organize workers at the clothing factory into the Clothing Workers’ Union (CLOWU) which was formed by activists of the United Democratic Front (UDF). CLOWU aimed to challenge the Garment and Workers Union which was less progressive. She later served as the treasurer of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTU). September also served as National Secretary of the National Advice Forum which was part of the UDF.
In 1988, September became part of a team that organized and led a strike at Rex Trueform where she was working. Subsequently, she was elected as a shopsteward. She rose to serve as the Regional Chair, and in 1993 she elected as Deputy President of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
In 1996 the Central Executive Committee of COSATU discussed challenges faced by trade unions in the new South Africa. Following deliberations, the Central Executive Committee established a Commission to look at the future of trade unions, September was appointed to head the Commission. Consequently, the Commission was known as the September Commission.
September came to Parliament in 1999 and she served on a number of committees: Trade and Industry, Status of Women, the Public Service and Administrative Committee, Rules and Joint Rules Committee, and was Chairperson on the Portfolio Committee on Water and Forestry. September also ensured greater cooperation between provinces and municipalities in meeting their targets.
After the 2009 elections, September became the Adviser on the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs. In 2010 she returned to Parliament where she served once again in the Trade and Industry Committee, and she later went to work in Public Enterprises as member and International Relations. In July 2013 September was appointed as the Minister of Human Settlements.
September holds a Masters degree in Technology from the Da Vinci Institute and an Advanced Diploma from the University of Western Cape. She is studying for a Master Degree in Economics from the University of London.
• Ms Connie September Human Settlements Minister, from the Department of Human Settlements, [online], Available at www.dhs.gov.za [Accessed 7 August 2013]