Mbeki mourns passing of union stalwart


President Thabo Mbeki has sent condolences to the family and friends of the late Ray Alexander, who died on Sunday 13th September.

In a statement today, President Mbeki described Ms Alexander as a giant of South African non-racialism.

"Together with other brilliant minds such as Jack Simon, comrade Ray worked throughout her life to see that freedom's brightness would reach these shores. Her energy and moral seriousness lit up our long march to freedom.

"Even now she still strengthens our determination to create a better life for all," he said.

Born Rachel Alexandrowich in 1913 in Latvia, she became active in the underground Latvian Communist Party while still a teenager. She arrived in South Africa on 6 November 1929, and joined the Communist Party of South Africa on 11 November, five days afterwards.

She was involved with all facets of the Party's work, and after being dismissed from a job for attending the founding conference of the Anti-Fascist League, became increasingly involved with trade union activity.

She helped organise workers in many different trades, but the union, which became synonymous with her name was the Food and Canning Workers Union (FCWU).

In April 1954, together with other anti-apartheid icons, Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi and Florence Mkhize, she helped found the Federation of South African Women, which fought for women's rights and pioneered a Women's Charter.

In September of that year, a banning order forced her to resign as general secretary of FCWU. Another banning order, in April 1954, forced her to resign from the Federation of SA Women.

Source: BuaNews