Mlobiseni Rolek Bango

1963 Secretary for Labour, ZANU.
1974 Secretary of the National Transport, Telecommunications and Power Committee, ANC.
1974 Member, Executive Committee, ANC.
1975 (Sept.) Member National Executive Committee, ANC (Nkomo).

Mlobiseni Bango was born on 20 October 1926 “about 20 miles (32 km) south—east of Marula, near the Tshatshani river in the Matopo mountain range”. His father was a chief in the Kalanga tribe, his domain covering a large area between Plumtree and the Matopos. His grandfather was a “warrior in the Igaba I Division of the Matabele regiment during the reign of King Lobengula”. His mother was “a dealer in native clay pots, which she made and sold for cash, as well as cattle”.

He attended Bango Primary School from 1940 to 1942; St Joseph’s Mission, Simukwe, in 1943; and Empandeni Mission at Plumtree from 1944 to 1946. After leaving school he studied with the (South African) Lyceum Correspondence School and obtained his Standard VII in 1948.

Bango trained as a medical assistant at Salisbury (Harare) Hospital during 1947 and 1948. It was during this period (1948) that the General Strike took place and “the excitement and curiosity” engendered by this event determined him to go into the trade union movement. Thus it was that, in 1951, after completing his medical training and after working at Kezi and Antelope hospitals, and for a brewery in Bulawayo, he became a trade union worker. For two years he was an organiser for the African Transport Workers’ Union, becoming its General Secretary (in 1953) on a full-time basis. He attended a trade union seminar organised by the British TUC at Oxford in 1959. In the same year he was a workers’ delegate to the International Labour Conference in Geneva. In 1960 he was responsible for the registration under the Industrial Conciliation Act of the first ‘controlled’ trade union – in the face of opposition from white unionists and employers as well as from African union leaders. He was editor of the Transport Workers’ journal from 1960 to 1973.

During the 1960s he attended many seminars conducted by the ICFTU at Ranche House College, Salisbury (Harare). In 1964 he was again a delegate to the ILO Conference in Geneva. In 1970 he received a Fellowship under the Special Commonwealth Africa Assistance Plan and studied industrial relations in Britain. From 1970 to 1973 he studied economics and finance by correspondence with the British TUC Postal Courses College at Tillicoultry, Scotland.

Bango became involved in politics in 1957, being secretary of the steering committee which led to the re-formation of the ANCongress on 12 September of that year. He was later a member of NDP, ZAPU and ZANU (of which he was Secretary for Labour). He joined the ANC on its creation, and in December 1974 was appointed a member of the Executive Committee as well as Secretary of the National Transport, Telecommunications and Power Committee. When the split occurred in September 1975 he adhered to Joshua Nkomo. He attended the special congress on 27-28 September and was elected to the National Executive Committee.

Mlobiseni Bango is married, with six children — three boys and three girls (one of whom is training as a nurse). He is interested in both traditional African music (especially Kalanga ngungu drums) and in western classical music — his favourite composers being Tchaikowsky and Brahms. He is a voracious reader of newspapers and journals, particularly The Times, The Guardian and The New Statesman.