NUM officially backs Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma as ANC president

The NUM is South Africa’s largest mining union with just under 200 000 members and boasts former leaders such as Ramaphosa. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The NUM is South Africa’s largest mining union with just under 200 000 members and boasts former leaders such as Ramaphosa. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The National Union of Mineworkers’s most senior decision-making structure has officially endorsed Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as ANC president, saying he has been groomed to do so and has already set aside his business interests.

The decision to publicly call for Ramaphosa to replace ANC president Jacob Zuma comes less than a week after the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) refused to do the same, despite voicing its support for the ANC tradition of its deputy succeeding the president.

The NUM confirmed the endorsement of its former general secretary at its national executive committee meeting at the weekend after initially proposing it earlier this year. But the union said it wants Zuma to serve out the remainder of his term as president of the country.

“The NEC supported the view that the president should be able to finish his term as the head of state,” said NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu, who added that the union now plans to openly campaign for Ramaphosa to take over.

“Lobbying has started. The ANC leagues have been lobbying openly for president Zuma’s ex wife [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma], why should others be prevented from lobbying? It started a long time ago.
The ANC can’t ban anyone from lobbying when its own structures are already doing it.”

Cosatu said it refrained from endorsing any candidate publicly to allow its affiliates enough time to express their personal preferences. Last week the M&G revealed that transport and municipal unions Satawu and Samwu were among the unions that objected to the federation publicly backing Ramaphosa, while a majority of the other unions were in favour of the move.

This is the 2nd time the NUM has publicly thrown its weight behind Ramaphosa. NUM general secretary David Sipunzi told the M&G in May that if his predecessor was sidelined from the ANC’s presidential race, this could be interpreted as tribalism.

“We say, if that [ANC] tradition [of the deputy succeeding the president] has to be broken, there should be convincing reasons out there. And we don’t want to make it sound as if this thing has some tribalistic element in it. Now because it is a Venda boy that has to lead the country, that’s a no-no. We don’t want it to take that route,” Sipunzi said.

The union also insisted that the “Ramaphosa for President” campaign was not a leadership decision.

“It can’t be that workers are needed to mobilise for the ANC at the elections but now workers must keep quiet. Some of our members are ANC members and asked NUM to pronounce publicly on succession because they want Cyril Ramaphosa. It’s a mandated pronouncement,” Mammburu said.

The NUM is South Africa’s largest mining union with just under 200 000 members and boasts former leaders such as Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and Kgalema Motlanthe.

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