By CHESTER MAKANA AND NDIVHUWO MUKWEVHO
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has officially endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s candidacy to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader next year.
The NUM’s move comes less than a week after Cosatu boss Sdumo Dlamini refused to endorse anybody for the ANC presidency, and publicly refused to throw Cosatu’s weight behind any candidate, saying the succession debate had yet to be officially opened in the ruling tripartite structures.
NUM general secretary David Sipunzi said this week that Ramaphosa’s ascendance to power would be in line with the ANC’s tradition that the deputy succeeds the incumbent.
“The NEC reminded itself that the 2016 Central Committee of the NUM had, in early June taken a decision to support the candidacy of Cyril Ramaphosa for president,” said Sipunzi.
“This is not only based on the tradition of the ANC, but also on the suitability of the candidate. We firmly believe that debates on this issue should be organisational and people must stop swearing at others as that only serves to show how intolerant we are.”
The ringing endorsement for Ramaphosa from NUM, one of the influential arms of SA’s trade union federations, will rachet up pressure in the ruling African National Congress where President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s name has been mentioned as a possible leader of the party.
With President Zuma facing growing calls to resign over a series of scandals and loss of support for the party in key metro areas like Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Pretoria, attention is turning to one solid potential contender to succeed him – his former wife.
Dlamini-Zuma, 67, is a long-standing heavyweight in the ruling ANC, holding several ministerial positions since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Addressing a University of Venda graduation ceremony in Thohoyandou this week, Ramaphosa said the current generation in the party faithful had to renew the country. “We have been diverted by self-interest, by factional disputes, by the trappings of power, this generation must return us to the correct path,” Ramaphosa said.
NUM regards itself as a leadership grooming institution hence it has always been willing to avail its graduates to assume important roles within the alliance structures, including Ramaphosa himself who became ANC Secretary General 1995 and currently the Deputy President of the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe who became ANC Secretary General 1997-2007 and who became Deputy President of South Africa 2009, and the current incumbent Secretary General of the ANC Gwede Mantashe.
NUM was the first union to adopt the Freedom Charter and also adopted Comrade Nelson Mandela as its honorary lifetime President.
Through these gestures, it cemented the relations between worker aspirations and the national liberation project.It defined its struggle at the shop floor with the broader aspirations of progressive freedom-loving South Africans.
This maturity was later to be transmitted into Cosatu which signaled a death knell to workerist tendencies within the federation at its inception. – The African Times