South African Mining Union Backs Ramaphosa to Be ANC’s President

  • President Jacob Zuma should serve out his term, union says
  • Union working on recruitment as membership numbers decline

South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers said it will back Cyril Ramaphosa to be president of the country’s ruling African National Congress after Jacob Zuma.

"This is not only based on the tradition of the ANC, but also on the suitability of the of the candidate,” NUM General Secretary David Sipunzi told reporters in Johannesburg Monday. “Zuma must serve his term.” Ramaphosa, 63, co-founded the NUM in the 1980s.

Zuma, 74, is scheduled to depart as the ANC’s leader in 2017 and as the nation’s president in 2019. The contest to replace Zuma is intensifying as calls mount from ANC veterans, civil-rights groups and church officials for him to quit or be fired after he was implicated in a series of scandals. The nation’s next leader will probably come from the party since it’s won every parliamentary vote since the end of apartheid 22 years ago by more than 60 percent.

The nation’s top court in March found that Zuma violated the constitution by failing to repay taxpayer funds spent on his private home. Critics accuse him of allowing the Gupta family, who are his friends and in business with his son, to use their connections for financial gain. Both Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.

Ramaphosa, a lawyer, helped to negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid and draft South Africa’s first democratic constitution. He lost out to Thabo Mbeki in the contest to succeed Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and went into business, amassing a fortune before returning to full-time politics in 2012 when he became ANC deputy president.

Recruitment Drive

The NUM has been displaced by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union as the biggest representative of employees in the platinum industry. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of the metal.

The NUM is working to recruit members after numbers declined to 192,0000 from 206,000 in July last year, Sipunzi said.

The union’s relationship with Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane is “non-existent,” Sipunzi said. “We are concerned that he does not deem it important to form a relationship with us when we are part of the major stakeholders; instead he is busy with other things.”

This month, the presidency repudiated Zwane when he caused a storm of protest from business leaders by saying the cabinet recommended a judicial inquiry into banking oversight bodies after lenders cut ties to the Gupta family.

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