Nelson Maila Mokgotho was born in Burgersfort, Limpopo. He completed his secondary studies in 1991 from Sekoba Secondary School. Thereafter, he enrolled at the University of Limpopo, erstwhile University of the North, where he completed his BA Degree majoring in English and Psychology.
Mokgotho has also obtained a Diploma in Labour Law and is currently studying towards his Honours Degree in Public Administration.
His activism led him to become a member of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) and the Student Representatives Council (SRC) while at the University of Limpopo. He was elected the Regional Chairperson of the ANC Youth League at the Sekhukhune inaugural Conference, while also serving in the ANC PEC.
Mokgotho is currently serving as an ANC branch Chairperson and a member of the South African Communist Party.
A teacher by training and profession, Mokgotho served as a ward Councillor at the Greater Tubatse Local Municipality from 2001 to 2005. Thereafter, he was appointed as an Local Economic Development (LED) Officer at the same municipality.
Mokgotho is currently employed by the Greater Tubatse Local Municipality as LED Manager. After his appointment at the municipality, Mokgotho joined SAMWU and was elected a shopsteward in 2008 and later the Union’s full-time shopsteward.
Mokgotho rose through the ranks within the Union and served as a Regional Chairperson and ultimately the Deputy Provincial Chairperson.
In 2019, Mokgotho was elected 1st Deputy President of SAMWU, a position he held until being elected President at the Union’s 12th National Congress in 2020. As SAMWU President, Union, Mokgotho is the Union’s political head, playing an oversight role along the collective of National Office Bearers.
Mokgotho is currently serving as a Board member of the Local Government Sector Education Training Authority (LGSETA) and as the Deputy Chairperson of the African Network of Municipalities.
He also sits in the Executive Committee and Bargaining Committee structures of South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
Mokgotho placed greater emphasis on his leadership’s ability to understand what workers demand and strike a balance between the different category of workers so the Union can represent them equally.
For Mokgotho, the importance of the media space is critical for the Union and its survival. He argues that the Union should embrace the technological advancements which have made it easy for organisations to reach wider audiences.
It is for this reason that he firmly believes that the Union’s media department should be capacitated to communicate with its members efficiently and effectively in a timeous manner.
Mokgotho argues that the Union, and the trade union movement in general should appreciate the fact that the workplace is getting younger.
Consequently, trade unions are seeing an increase in young people joining. He however adds that much work needs to be done by trade unions to attract young workers into the trade union movement.
According to him, the Union’s 12th National Congress made a correct decision by constitutionalising the Young Workers’ structure as it will enable the Union to groom a second layer of leadership. “The future of this Union, and the trade union movement in general lies in the hands of young people” he adds.
He further adds that he, along with his collective NOBs have a responsibility and duty to handover this Union to the next generation while it is still intact, strong and vibrant.
Mokgotho admits that the roles and responsibilities that have been bestowed upon him by the National Congress are demanding and physically draining. He however believes that he is a servant of municipal workers. “With service comes great sacrifices” he adds.
Mokgotho is a proponent of discipline and ethical behaviour. According to him, SAMWU can only fully achieve its core missions and visions through dedicated servants who conduct themselves in a disciplined and ethical manner.
The same can be said for municipalities which are in the main facing many challenges ranging from governance, finances and service delivery.
Mokgotho strongly believes that the country’s municipalities have the potential to deliver services to residents as per their constitutional mandate. This is however currently not the case given the fraud and corruption in municipalities and the politicisation of service delivery.
Mokgotho believes in the training and education of leaders and workers as a vehicle to improve workers’ representation. He adds that the SAMWU Trades Academy and other institutions of learning should be used to equip and capacitate shopstewards.
By having shopstewards and leaders who are capacitated, the Union will improve on its service to members. “This is what we want to achieve in this year of the member”