Dumisane Magagula was born in the Vaal Triangle and grew up in Sebokeng township. He started his education Vukuzakhe Combined School and later proceeded to Moqhaka High School, where his studies, along with many other pupils were interrupted by the 1976 uprisings and the Asinamali protests.
However, Magagula did not see the uprisings as an interruption, but rather an opportunity for young South Africans to actively participate in the struggle for freedom, justice, and fairness. As such, he too became an active participant.
In the late 80s, Magagula enrolled for a qualification in Mechanical Engineering at the erstwhile, Technikon Northern Transvaal. He later obtained a National Diploma in Theology and became a Minister at the Mahon Evangelical Church where he still serves as a Minister. He is currently pursuing a Bacher’s Degree in Public Administration.
Magagula’s calling for service is both political and religious, in and out of the workplace. Magagula had an affinity for motor engineering until he was awarded an apprenticeship opportunity to become a motor technician by Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) in 1991.
After completing the BMW program, he was promptly absorbed as a Motor Technician. He continued to hone his skills and craft and was later employed by the Emfuleni Local Municipality in 1997. During his employment at the municipality, Magagula was exposed to SAMWU and the trade union movement.
In 2004, Magagula took up employment at the Moqhaka Local Municipality in the Free State Province as a Motor Technician. As a result of his passion for workers and commitment to fighting the system, Magagula was elected a shopsteward.
Magagula quickly rose through the Union ranks and was elected SAMWU Fezile Dabi Regional Secretary in 2006. Thereafter, he was employed by the Union as a Provincial Organiser and was elected SAMWU Free State Provincial Secretary.
Magagula’s involvement in student politics during his schooling years fueled his passion for social justice and workers’ rights. His political activism aligned with leftist principles prepared him for the journey that was to come in the trade union movement. He remains a member of both the ANC and SACP.
During his tenure in the Free State province, Magagula was inspired and influenced by Cdes Maroele Seroue and Pule Mothibedi, who groomed him and encouraged him to continue serving municipal workers by teaching him to organise, recruit, service, and handle workers’ cases.
In April 2019, Magugula was elected the Union’s Deputy General Secretary, a role he continued in, until being reelected at the Union’s 12th National Congress in 2020.
In 2021, Magagula was elected as the Union’s General Secretary. His tenure as the General Secretary has been marked by a dedication to worker advocacy and Union development. Magagula emphasizes the importance of engaging with Union members to grasp their challenges and push forward the Union’s objectives.
As the General Secretary, Magagula is responsible for the overall administration of the Union. His previous experience as a shopsteward, organiser, and provincial leader has equipped him with the necessary skills needed to keep the steer the ship in the right direction. He has been entrusted with ensuring that Union’s resolutions at all structural levels are implemented and ensuring that policies of the Union are complied with at an operational level.
Magagula currently serves on the Board of the Local Government SETA and is on the Executive Committee and Bargaining Committee of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC). He believes that through the two Bargaining Councils in which the Union negotiates in, conditions of municipal workers and workers in the water sector can be improved.
For Magagula, the unity of workers is sacrosanct, especially during these times wherein the attack and undermining of collective bargaining is on the rise. This has been largely seen in many municipalities that refuse to comply with collective agreements which have been concluded in these Councils.
Magagula is optimistic about the potential of SAMWU in the municipal and water sector. He believes that by going back to basics, listening to members, and properly servicing them, the Union will be in a better position to retain and recruit more members. He argues that recruitment goes hand in hand with service.
He envisages SAMWU achieving its aims and objectives through training and capacitation of leaders across all levels of the Union, from National, Provincial, Regional, and Local levels. As the chief administrator of the Union, Magagula also oversees the operations of the Union. He encourages the Union’s officials to always be willing and ready to respond to the needs of workers. Importantly, Magagula is an advocate for staff development.
Dumisane Magagula’s journey through difficult years of instability to becoming the General Secretary of SAMWU is a testament to the results of dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to worker rights.