Mpho Phakedi, the provincial secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers’ largest region, PWV [Gauteng], might differ with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s new e-toll dispensation, but he believes the former unionist-come businessman is the right man to lead the ANC and the country after President Jacob Zuma’s term in office ends.
The NUM regional leader also said he would support ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to take over as Ramaphosa’s deputy when the party holds its elective conference in 2017.
Both Ramaphosa and Mantashe previously served NUM as general secretaries. The two ANC leaders delivered speeches at the NUM national congress at the weekend.
Phakedi’s PWV region played an instrumental role in the election of Free State provincial secretary David Sipunzi as NUM’s new general secretary on Saturday – a move which is expected to shift the balance of forces within the labour federation Cosatu ahead of its special national congress this month.
Some within the ANC prefer African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to replace Jacob Zuma as president. Those that have been mentioned for the position of deputy president include ANC policy head and minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe, ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize and Gauteng ANC chair Paul Mashatile.
Cosatu and its affiliates have in the past played a significant role in influencing the leadership direction in the ANC. The federation supported Zuma’s election during the ANC’s national congress in Polokwane in 2007.
Phakedi said while he differed with Ramaphosa on the issue of e-tolls, he regarded him as one of the greatest leaders the ANC has ever produced.
“He [Ramaphosa] is one of the most matured leaders within the ANC. His experience in business and the trade union movement comes as an advantage for him. It has been the tradition of the ANC that the deputy president takes over as president. Ramaphosa and Mantashe still have a huge support within the NUM. I don’t see anything wrong with Mantashe becoming deputy president,” said Phakedi.
Ramaphosa became ANC deputy president in 2012 after then-deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe declined the nomination for the position and contested Zuma for the position of president instead.
Since being appointed as Zuma’s deputy after last year’s general elections in May, Ramaphosa has taken over some important roles in government. These include the responsibility to fix problematic parastatals like Eskom, the South African Post Office and South African Airways. He was also tasked to deal with the controversial e-tolling system, which has divided the ANC-led alliance.
Ramaphosa announced the new dispensation for the implementation of the e-toll system last month, which included reduced tariffs for motorists and discounts on outstanding e-toll bills.
Phakedi and other unionists want a total scrapping of the e-toll system.
Ramaphosa’s detractors are hoping his political career will be tarnished by the outcome of the Marikana report.
Lawyers for the wounded and arrested Marikana workers want Ramaphosa to face criminal charges for his role in the August 2012 Marikana shooting.
Zuma has promised to release the Marika report before the end of this month.