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AFRICA/CARIBBEAN NOW: ‘It’s Not About Me,’ Zingiswa Losi Says

Had she not been mature enough to separate personal feelings from leadership responsibilities, Zingiswa Losi could easily have been lost to Cosatu, instead of making history as its first female president, the Johannesburg-based City Press reported September 23.

Never take things personally in any organization, says Losi, because when they have been addressed and dealt with, you still have to lead those who were raising the issues. “I have learnt to separate myself as Zingiswa from the position that I occupy. If I fail to do that, emotions will come in, because Zingiswa will not understand that the issues are about the office and not about her as an individual.”

There is a painful background story to her sentiments. She had a bruising experience in 2013 with her then union, Numsa, when she was suspended by her Eastern Cape home region over charges of bringing the union into disrepute.

In the end she resigned from her position at a local Ford plant and found refuge in Popcru to avoid losing her position as Cosatu’s second deputy president.

Losi, also a former soldier in the SA National Defence Force before joining Ford in 2002, almost burst into tears when she told national congress delegates this week about the support she received from her family in Port Elizabeth when “the road was filled with potholes”. She said her father, sisters, children and nieces held her hand, helping her to “identify the potholes.”

Losi says she appreciates the Numsa experience because “if you focus on emotions, you are easily dislodged without really understanding the reasons behind some of the questions that are being asked. Had I addressed it differently, I would have burnt many bridges. But now I’m able to meet my former comrades and we greet, we smile and we hug.”

“I have never taken issues personally and I will never do. I must first understand why this person is raising this issue and then put myself in the shoes of that person. Perhaps they do not have information and maybe it is an opportunity to share information,” she says.

Losi describes herself as “one person who genuinely cannot hold grudges,” saying it takes a lot of energy and drains her if she cannot speak to somebody. “It completely destroys me internally and that is why I refuse to carry any baggage for anyone. You bring your baggage; you shall take it back with you. But I only reject the baggage and not the person, because next time you may be bringing something that is worth taking note of,” she says.

The road ahead may not be without new potholes for Losi, with workers increasingly agitated because they feel they are getting a raw deal in their alliance with the governing ANC. The federation’s 1.6 million workers have always voted for the ANC during elections, but their loyalty to the party has not always resulted in government policy and decisions that push the interests of the workers.

Among Losi’s first tasks in office is to persuade the ANC to listen and respond to the workers’ concerns by agreeing to the reconfiguration of the alliance so that all partners have an equal say in the running of government. President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ANC was amenable to the proposal, but urged that for now the general elections next year should be the alliance’s first priority.

The ANC is feeling the heat from the SACP regarding the same matter, because the latter agrees with Cosatu that the alliance should be reviewed. It is going a step further and threatens to contest elections against the ANC if it does not respond favorably.

$6M Fire and Police Station Opens in Grand Bahama

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis officially opened a new $6 million fire and police station in Grand Bahama Friday, September 23.

The Nassau Tribune reported that the state of the art facility has been named in honor of the late Albert J. Miller, former Deputy Police Commissioner and Grand Bahama businessman.

The 22,000-square-foot complex is built on three acres of land donated by the Grand Bahama Port Authority Authority (GBPA), where Sir Albert had served as a co-chairman and president for three decades.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames and Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson attended the opening. Also in attendance were Sir Albert’s children Russell and Tony Miller and Debbie Archer along with their spouses.

Sarah St. George, vice chairman of the GBPA, Rupert Hayward, executive director, and Ian Rolle, president were also present.

The old fire station on Settler’s Way was destroyed by the hurricanes in 2004 that struck the island, leaving firefighters without a facility of their own. The fire team was relocated to cramped quarters at the Police Canteen where it has remained for the past 15 years.

The prime minister said Sir Albert was instrumental in ensuring property for a new facility was donated by the Port Authority.

“I am especially pleased to be here at the inauguration and dedication of this state of art police and fire station named in honor of the late Sir Albert Miller, a great Bahamian who made tremendous contributions to nation building and to Grand Bahama,” he said yesterday during the ceremony.

He noted that Sir Albert rose through the ranks of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to become Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Sir Albert served 28 years on the police force before leaving to join the Grand Bahama Port Authority, where he also moved through the company becoming president and later co-chairman. He retired after more than 30 years at the GBPA to run his private businesses. He died Aug. 18, 2015, at age 89.

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