Cosatu stands by decision to back Cyril

Cosatu has defended its decision to back ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as its candidate to replace President Jacob Zuma next year, describing him as a “liberator of mineworkers” during apartheid.

The federation dismissed criticism levelled at Ramaphosa over his role in the Marikana massacre, saying it was a ploy to discredit the ANC-led government but not necessarily the ANC deputy president as an individual leader.

Cosatu’s announcement yesterday followed its central executive committee (CEC) meeting this week.

“You keep raising Marikana. A commission was put in place and Cyril was not found guilty.

“Things will be raised – it doesn’t matter who leads the ANC, this war is not against individuals, but the ANC.

“They [opposition parties] want regime change,” said Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi.

Prior to the CEC 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 its affiliates, such as the National Mineworkers Union (NUM), Nehawu, teachers’ union Sadtu and the Communication Workers Union.

The ANC is due to hold its elective conference next year in December and factions within the party and its aligned structures are intensifying lobbying for their preferred candidates.
Cosatu’s first deputy president Tyotyo James said it should be remembered that it was Ramaphosa who had “liberated” workers during apartheid.

“He founded the NUM and became its first general secretary. It was through his actions that mineworkers were liberated from prison-like conditions.”

Cosatu’s decision is seen as a slap in the face of its president Sdumo Dlamini, a staunch Zuma supporter who wanted to rally behind a candidate from an ANC camp aligned to him.
Dlamini, who attended yesterday’s press conference, did not speak on the issue as Cosatu leaders tried to explain that their decision to support Ramaphosa had been unanimous.
In another indication that Cosatu had lost patience with Zuma, it said it supported the institution of a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture as recommended by former public protector Thuli Madonsela. This comes after Zuma, responding to questions in parliament on Wednesday, complained that Madonsela had no right to instruct him to institute a commission of inquiry.

Cosatu also announced yesterday that it had submitted a vote of no confidence in the Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane. It accused Zwane of colluding with other unions against NUM.

“He is a weak and polarising figure who has failed to deal with the biggest issues like retrenchments, illegal mining and the ongoing violence,” said Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. “His collusion with other unions to isolate and attack the NUM was the last straw for the CEC. We are calling for him to step aside or to be dismissed.”