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COSATU Today  |  COSATU Speeches

Address by the COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi at the funeral of Abe Nduru

21 November 2009

Lindani and your two kids as well as to your family and friends
The parents, brothers and sisters and the family of Abe Nduru
His colleagues and employees
Friends and Comrades

Today as we gather to bid farewell to

Our friend, comrade and confidant!
A husband to Lindani
A father to his kids
A son to his parents
A brother and a family member of the Ndurus and Nogxina family
A Pioneer,
A towering intellectual,
A warrior for the rights of retirement funds members,
An agent of change,
And a man of purpose,

An unassuming man who freely interacted with workers and their bosses without adjusting his manners and or attitude to fit these different classes.

A man who broke the glass ceiling in South Africa by becoming the first Black person to qualify as an Actuary. This he did with honours.

His entrepreneurial flair which started when he was young, and he kept on growing and blossoming. Those who worked with him in the former Southern Life will testify to his thick voice of an assuming intellectual equal to his task.
I have known him since the early to mid 90s. He started working with COSATU during the negotiations on a legislation to distribute pension fund surplus to former and existing members of retirement funds. He was part of our negotiating team during very tough negotiations in NEDLAC.

He further worked as a member of the trustee of the Metal Industries Provident Fund, assisting them in dealing with the distribution of the Surplus in that Fund. The experience proved invaluable for future progress in the Employee Benefits Industry.

August 1996, Abe at the insistence of Graham Kerrigan, joined Alexander Forbes Negotiated Benefit Consultants as the Chief Actuary of the Negotiated Funds and Financial Director of the Division.

He was pivotal in establishing NBC Holdings as an independent and autonomous company in April 1998 and ensured with his team that all clients had the best service.

He retained the confidence of all clients who were in the main union negotiated funds and became a pillar of this Black owned and managed Employee Benefit Company.

Abe showed his great concern for the interests of the members when he highlighted and exposed the subtlety with which reserves were hidden in actuarial reporting during the transfer of the employees from Colgate Palmolive to CINPF which is a CEPPWAWU Fund.

Our own union team worked with Abe in this fight and ensured that the correct benefits were transferred for members.

During the period 1999 to 2000, Abe was part of another change in South Africa, The Pension Funds Amendment Act.

This Act dealt with the surpluses that were due to members and former members. He and Nicky Howard from Cheadle Thomson & Haysom worked tirelessly as advisors of COSATU team led by our policy unit, in formulating Labour’s input into this new Pension Amendment Act of 2001. This Act changed the landscape of the retirement funds industry completely.

I may add that they did so at no cost to the Federation.

In 2001 changes in NBC led him to resign. He operated for while out of Veon Bock’s office from where he launched SA Quantum in September 2002.

He then, with a few staff members and against all odds developed a vision that created a successful business with a staff compliment in excess of 100.

Abraham was a fighter who did not know the meaning of taking risk. He was bold and had guts to always take new initiatives. No one can dare contradict us when we call him a pioneer. As an African, Abe has gone where no one in the Employee Benefits Industry in South Africa had gone before.

He introduced self insurance in the Mining Sector Funds. Through this he saved members and trustees hundreds millions of Rands. He was a true innovator. No problem was too big for him and with Abe there was always a solution.

Abe commanded the respect of his clients, his peers and his staff. He was a person whom especially workers could relate to because of his ability to talk in simple language to everyone. Never did he boast about his accomplishments.

He was an extraordinarily capable man, extraordinarily unique. The idea that all people have value profoundly influenced him.

The death of Abe few days ago is a hard blow, to his family, the labour movement, his friends and the retirement fund industry. Without any doubt it deprived us of one of the most gifted and capable person.

One of Abe’s most wonderful and striking qualities was his capacity to think “Out of the Box”. He had a way of turning the problems of this world around and examining them from what was often the most unusual perspectives.

It was as if he had the gift of seeing things in ways that most us simply didn’t.

How must we face this loss? What would be Abe’s opinion if he had to make a judgement on this matter? I guess he would rather want us to celebrate his life and not mourn.

He would want us to move forward to a “Better life for all!”

I am saying so even though I have no clue how we would move ahead confronting new battles without this young giant. It was too soon and completely unfair on all accounts. We’ve lost a friend; we’ve lost a champion, and it is going to take some time to adjust to this reality.

Abe your presence will be missed!


Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
E-Mail: patrick@cosatu.org.za