Ramaphosa wins Cosatu affiliates’ backing for top job

South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa got a major boost in his bid to succeed President Jacob Zuma when affiliates of the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) backed him for the presidency in 2017.
In an implicit endorsement of Mr Ramaphosa succeeding President Zuma as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) put forward a proposal that sought a reaffirmation of the principle that the ANC deputy president would accede to the party’s top position and also to the presidency of the country when the vacancies arose.
The proposal was seconded by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the National Union of Mineworkers, the South African Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (SACTWU) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa.
SADTU deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi said Cosatu should take the same position it did in 2005, when it first came out in support of Mr Zuma, who was then deputy president and whose future role in the party was uncertain.
“It cannot be that each time the ANC goes to a national elective conference, it suffers from instability which affects the alliance and the country as a whole,” said Mr Dolopi.
Mr Ramaphosa faces the Africa Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race for South Africa’s top job.
As the unions plumped for Mr Ramaphosa, SACTWU voiced concerns about discussing succession issues so early. 
The clothing and textiles union said succession debates could destabilise the alliance and suggested they be dealt with by the Cosatu central executive committee after next year’s local government elections.
But SADTU general secretary John Maluleke said his union’s position was not factional.
“Knowing that the deputy president will be the president will stop factions from forming. It will be good for the economy, for the country and for the ANC,” he argued.
NEHAWU’s first deputy president Mike Shingange said it supported Mr Rampahosa in the interests of consistency and stability.