The memorial service for Michael “Mike” Nzotoyi, who died at St George‘s Hospital on 14 June 2013 after a battle with heart complications, will be held at the Lillian Ngoyi Community Hall, New Brighton tomorrow (19 June), beginning at 9:00 a.m..
Michael Zwelinzima “Mike” Nzotoyi was born on the 8th August 1940 in Port Elizabeth. He completed his Junior Certificate at the Kwazakhele Secondary School. He completed his Matric through Damelin Correspondence College. He registered for a Bachelor of Administration whilst serving sentence at Robben Island. He completed Public Administration 1, Development Administration 1 and Accountancy 1. As part of his personal development and his passion for human settlements and community development he completed a Diploma in Housing Development and Management Programme.
He started his political activities whilst working as a Clerk at Glenton & Mitchell in 1963-1967. He continued to work as a sales person from 1967-1975 at Port Furnishers. He started reading literature popular known as “UMRABULO “also attending secret political meetings and discussions. His early understanding of South African political and social challenges was greatly enhanced through his association with the residents struggle through the civic movement. Through his acute style and militancy he was able to mobilize and lead the residents. He identified himself with the people and the people’s struggles. Understandably, he became the target of the security establishment of South Africa. He eventually paid the price when he was arrested and detained and eventually sentenced to seven (7) years imprisonment on Robben Island referred to as the Political College.
When he returned from prison he continued with his political activities as a servant of the people. He worked tirelessly mobilizing people of Port Elizabeth behind the banner of the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organizational (PEBCO). He was elected as the General Secretary of PEBCO in 1985. During that time people we mobilized within the Mass Democratic Fold through the United Democratic Front (UDF) which had a popular slogan “UDF Unites Apartheid Divides”. Comrade Mike Nzotoyi was very instrumental in the establishment of the people’s organs to render apartheid government unworkable. He was unstoppable in ensuring that people were mobilized against apartheid and oppression.
During that almost all people on the ground were united to defeat apartheid and were highly politicised. There were only two camps not factions the enemy camp and the people’s camp. When the enemy declared the first state of emergency in 1985, he was amongst the first group of detainees and was released in November in 1985. During that people were highly motivated by the Voice of the African National Congress in Exile through the late long serving President of the ANC Oliver Reginald Tambo to make South Africa ungovernable and apartheid unworkable. The Botha apartheid regime declared the second state of emergency in 1986 and he was again detained from 1986-1991.
When he came back from prison he pursued his passion and love for housing development and served in the Steering Committee of Mzingisi Development Trust that was responsible for housing development of shack areas in Port Elizabeth. Whilst busy with Mzingisi Trust he continued his work as civic leader and was re-elected to South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) Executive Committee as the head of the Subcommittee of Housing and Land Services. By virtue of that position he played a critical role in many community development projects as a coordinator and spokesperson. He played a critical role in various projects that include the following:
- Soweto on Sea upgrading
- Masangwana Housing
- Matthew Goniwe Village Upgrading
- Walmer Upgrading
- St Albans/Greenbushes Housing Investigation
- Masibambane Housing Delivery Process
He served on the Eastern Cape Land Committee (ELO) as a SANCO representative. He was I instrumental in the negotiations with local council authorities for housing funding for development of emergency housing for the Masangwanaville fire victims. He was a SANCO representative during the local government transition phase through the “One City Talks “. He further represented local government in the CODESA 1 & 2 talks in the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park. He served as a SANCO leader for a better part of his life as an outstanding civic leader.
He was appointed as the Councillor in the Port Elizabeth Transitional Local Council (TLC) and was appointed as the Deputy Chairperson of the TLC’s Traffic and Engineering Department. He also served for a very long time as the Cape Provincial Administration Regional Housing Board. Due to his intellectual capabilities and skills he was appointed by the Minister of Housing then as a social compact facilitator in the Eastern Cape Local Government and Housing department. He was later seconded to Bisho as a Housing Development Co-coordinator for the Eastern Cape Province.
As the challenges of governing began to require the tried and tested, this democratic government deployed him again as one of the first cadres to lead the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality. Whilst a councilor Comrade Mike Nzotoyi popular known as ” Monkey ” or ” KGB ” in the municipal corridors played a critical role as a unifier in the council. As a veteran of our liberation movement he played a critical role during the challenging times in council of ill discipline and disunity within the ranks of the ANC councilors. He dedicated all his time in council to unite the ANC cadres and succeeded in doing that. He served in the Portfolio Committee of Housing now called human settlements as the Deputy Chairperson/ Whip as it is referred to now.
Comrade Mike Nzotoyi was a pain in the opposition ranks as he was always harsh in dealing with the opposition in particular the DA and they ended up giving up on him. The African National Congress deployed him as a Chief Whip of council until the end of the term in 2006 played a critical role in ensuring that the voice of the ANC is heard and respected in the ranks of the municipality. By the end of his tenure he had developed very close and good relations not only with the government but with the whole residents of Nelson Mandela Bay. He came at a time when our region was engulfed by many protest marches related to issues of service delivery. He led the political intervention team that was persuading residents to talk rather than burning and taking the fights to the streets.
Comrade Mike Nzotoyi political credentials cannot be doubted within the ranks of the Mass Democratic Movement. Monkey was always seen visible in the ranks of the young people who were always in the forefront of the struggle. In the 1980’s he was very instrumental in the youth struggle that led to the formation of the ” Amabutho ” the people’s revolutionaries who led the struggle at a difficult mobilizing people to make apartheid unworkable. As political commissar comrade Mike led many campaigns related to cadre development. KGB was a true communist who was a loving and caring person.
During the formation of the United Democratic Front Comrade Mike led many campaigns that included the 1 million signature campaign at Bloemendal. He led the bus boycotts, sweet boycotts, consumer boycotts, and mass stay aways that made our region a centre of the political mass struggles. The Monkey was also part and parcel of underground activities of the African National Congress. He also established the necessary infrastructure that enabled many young lions to swell the ranks of the people’s glorious army u “Mkonto Wesizwe “He utilse many areas as a gateway to exile at times pretending as preacher and/or priest.
Comrade Mike was an embodiment of the best traditions of the Congress movement, a leader, a negotiator, a civic leader, an activist and people’s leader of SANCO and ANC. He served the people without any material or personal gains. Monkey displayed high level of discipline although at times he was a difficult person to deal with. He expressed his commitment and availability to carry the tasks of the organization at all times. Owing to his political accountability he was deployed by the organization to serve on various structures of our movement. In Nelson Mandela he played a very important role in building structures of the organization and striving for unity and cohesion at all times. He was assigned many tasks by the movement and served the cause with distinction.
He passed away on the 14th June 2013. Comrade Mike leaves behind a loving, committed, and dedicated wife, Karen.
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