Trade union federation Cosatu has defended its decision to back ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as its preferred candidate to replace President Jacob Zuma next year, calling him a liberator of mineworkers under apartheid.
Cosatu also dismissed the criticism Ramaphosa had been facing over his role in the Marikana massacre, saying it was a ploy to discredit the government but not necessarily the ANC deputy president as an individual leader.
The federation yesterday publicly backed Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency following its central executive meeting this week.
Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi said: “You keep raising Marikana [after] the commission [found] Cyril not guilty.
“This war is not against individuals, but against the ANC.
“[Opposition parties] want regime change.”
Cosatu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said: “We are mindful that we are not a voting structure of the ANC but represent workers.”
Prior to the central executive meeting, Cosatu had said it would allow its affiliated unions to decide who should be endorsed as Zuma’s replacement.
But indications are that the labour federation buckled under pressure from affiliates the National Mineworkers Union (NUM), Nehawu, Sadtu and the Communication Workers Union, which had recently expressed public support for Ramaphosa.
The ANC is scheduled to hold its elective conference in December next year and various factions are intensifying lobbying for their preferred candidates.
Cosatu first deputy president Tyotyo James said it should be remembered that it was Ramaphosa who had liberated workers during the dark days of apartheid.
“We should not forget that Cyril Ramaphosa founded the NUM and became its founding general secretary,” James said.
“It was through his actions that mine workers were liberated from prison-like conditions.”
Cosatu also said yesterday that it had submitted a vote of no confidence in Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. – Additional reporting by Zine George and Silusapho Nyanda