‘Bro’ Bicks Ndoni laid to rest

The funeral service of Nelson Mandela Bay chief whip Bicks Ndoni who passed away earlier this month took place at the Feather Market Hall in Port Elizabeth.
The funeral service of Nelson Mandela Bay chief whip Bicks Ndoni who passed away earlier this month took place at the Feather Market Hall in Port Elizabeth.
Image: Werner Hills

In the months leading up to his death, Nelson Mandela Bay’s ANC chief whip Bicks Ndoni had become increasingly concerned about the state of politics in the metro.

“Comrades like Bicks felt the toll, they felt emotional about the crisis of this city, the crisis of the current politics,” former finance minister Mcebisi Jonas told mourners at Ndoni’s funeral yesterday.

 “They lived through of process of knowing that most of what they fought for was not necessarily there. They knew that the fight was for the emancipation of our people,” Jonas said.

“We have a municipality that is semi-functional and this is the central hub of the Eastern Cape.

“The metro is the nerve centre of the provincial economy, of the national economy,” Jonas said.

Ndoni’s funeral, held at a packed Feather Market Centre in Port Elizabeth, was attended by a host of ANC and government luminaries, including state security deputy minister Zizi Kodwa, and the deputy minister of public works and infrastructure, Noxolo Kiviet.

Prominent Eastern Cape and Bay politicians as well as business executives also attended.

Ndoni, 61, died on Monday last week after collapsing shortly after wrapping up a meeting with councillors at the party’s regional offices, Florence Matomela House, in Govan Mbeki Avenue.

Before collapsing, his colleagues told how the former Uitenhage mayor and ex-deputy mayor of the Nelson Mandela metro had shared jokes with them in his final moments.

In his tribute, Jonas reflected on how Ndoni immersed himself in the workers’ struggle during his time as a shop steward at Goodyear.

He said Ndoni came from an era when unions put the struggles of workers ahead of their own personal gain.

“Bicks came from a different type of unionism than what is found today.

“He comes from a unionism that saw the shop floor as an anchor because in times of corporatism, sometimes the shop floor became secondary.

“Sometimes most of our unions and labour movements are concerned about their lives and deployment,” Jonas told mourners.

“Sometimes most of our unions are more concerned about positions and labels, and less so about driving the rigorous transformation for the country.

“He came from the unionism that understood shop-floor politics,” Jonas said.

The funeral was attended by members of the ANC ranging from those who worked within regional structures to national.

The corner of Baakens Street, Military Road and John Kani Road were closed off to motorists to allow the funeral procession to take place.

Prominent businessman and African Pioneer Group CEO Stephen Dondolo spoke fondly of his friendship with Ndoni.

Dondolo said those who had worked with Ndoni during his time as mayor of Uitenhage knew the work he did in building the town and developing it.

“He brought business people and politicians together because he knew they would enhance our community.

“He brought the right laws in Uitenhage in order for there to be order, not what is currently happening there where people randomly demolish their walls and have overnight shops.

“There were bylaws,” he said.

Dondolo said one thing that frustrated Ndoni with the current administration in the metro had been fights over positions.

“We lost focus on delivering services and continued fighting over power.

“Some want power, not to liberate the masses, but for their own selves.

“We’re a metro that is complimented for its beauty but you have places like Uitenhage and Summerstrand that have not been developed in the last 15 years,” Dondolo said.

Nelson Mandela Bay acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye said Ndoni managed to win the admiration of political opponents.

He played a pivotal role in the establishment of local government structures.

“He was humble, sincere and patient.

“He stood his ground on what he thought was right.

His brave and principled conduct should inspire us as a great legacy.

“He’s fought a good fight. He leaves a big void.

“He served with distinction and we can only be left with a sense of pride,” Buyeye said.

Ndoni, who was born in Uitenhage on May 7 1958, matriculated at Limekhaya High School in 1979.

He joined the SA Students’ Movement in 1977, and became an active promoter of the resistance to apartheid which erupted in Uitenhage that year.

After the dawn of SA’s democracy in 1994, Ndoni played an active role in politics and business.

He was first elected as a part-time councillor in 1996.

He was later elected mayor of Uitenhage, a position he held for three years.

With the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in 2000, Ndoni served on the mayoral committee under the leadership of Nceba Faku.

He was elected deputy mayor a year later.

But after a council reshuffle in 2009, Ndoni was moved back to the mayoral committee.

He was not nominated to stand for council in the run-up to the 2011 municipal elections and became a businessman, before returning to politics in 2015, serving as deputy mayor under then-mayor Danny Jordaan.

He remained a councillor until his death.

Ndoni is survived by his wife, Mpho, and their children.

He was buried at the Matanzima cemetery in KwaNobuhle.