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November 24, 2016 | Uhuruspirit

ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

The decision by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to adopt Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the person it will support to take over from President Zuma has been criticized by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Cosatu, which is part of the ruling political alliance led by ANC and represents about 1.8 million workers, became the latest to weigh in, telling reporters on Thursday that it has "resolved to campaign" for Ramaphosa after a three-day central executive committee (CEC) meeting.

Cosatu's decision came after some of its affiliates have made their intentions clear that Ramaphosa is their choice. The public sector union National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), have publicly gave Ramaphosa the nod with more affiliates expected to support the call.

But the ANC has since fired back, saying that Cosatu's action will not help to foster party unity.

"We have noted some interested parties that have expressed publicly their preferences. These preferences do not help to bolster and foster unity in the ANC," the party's national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told News24.

Cosatu essentially became the first organisation to launch Ramaphosa's presidential campaign, endorsing him to take over from Zuma when his term expires in 2017.

This puts it in direct conflict with ANC structures including the women's and youth leagues which have said they want the next ANC leader to be a woman.

Zuma is expected to stand down as African National Congress (ANC) president at a party conference in December next year, ahead of national elections in 2019 when his tenure as president will end.

Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid leader popular with investors, is likely to face strong competition if he does throw his hat in the ring, including from Zuma's ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is head of the African Union.

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has also come out strongly against Cosatu's pronouncement, saying the party cannot be dictated to by Cosatu.

"If Cosatu wants Cyril as president, they can make him president of Cosatu at their own national congress," ANCYL president Collen Maine said.

A lawyer by training, Ramaphosa, 64, was a founding member of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), forged in the crucible of the struggle against white-minority rule in the 1980s. NUM, which has 200,000 members, backed Ramaphosa in September.

He went on to become the ANC's chief negotiator in talks that led to the end of apartheid and Nelson Mandela's election as South Africa's first black president in 1994. His business interests have ranged from mining to McDonald's outlets.

Ramaphosa's position as a director on the board of platinum producer Lonmin when South African police shot dead 34 wildcat strikers in 2012 could also cut into his popularity.

The ANC's dominance of South Africa since apartheid's demise means it is widely expected to win the 2019 election, making its next leader almost certain to become president.

with Reuters/News24

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