President Jacob Zuma’s faction in the ANC has suffered another blow as the country’s largest worker federation, Cosatu, has thrown its weight behind deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as president of the ANC.
The group made the announcement during a press briefing, following its executive council meetings held this week.
This is counter to supporters of the pro-Zuma camp, who have come out in support of his preferred candidate, ex-wife and current AU chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
This is a major blow to Zuma, as the internal factionalism of the ANC starts drawing lines ahead of the ruling party’s elective conference set for 2017.
A number of affiliate unions within Cosatu, including Nehawu and CWU, have outright called for Zuma to step down as president, following a number of high-profile scandals associated with president in the past few years.
Cosatu’s move away from the pro-Zuma narrative is especially significant, as it signifies that all alliance members of the ANC – Cosatu, the SACP and some within in the ANC itself – are steering away from a Zuma-defined presidency.
The same parties which are moving away from his preferred candidate were vital in getting him elected in 2009.
Dlamini-Zuma has been endorsed by Zuma-aligned leagues within the ANC (specifically the ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League and the so-called “Premier League”).
However, analysts says that Zuma’s extremely divisive and controversial presidency has made the party wary of the Zuma name and legacy, and will likely move away from those associated with him.
In Cosatu’s press briefing, the union said that it was concerned about how the 2016 local elections failed to unite the party, and that the alliance was struggling to define itself.
The federation said that the ANC was divided, and that the alliance itself was dysfunctional, failing to implement its resolutions.
It was troubling that the movement continued to be preoccupied with internal struggles, while the country suffered as a result, it said.
“We are mindful of the fact that we are not a voting structure of the ANC – but we represent workers,” the group said, adding that it would work to influence structures within the ANC to back Ramaphosa.
The federation sees Ramaphosa as the figure who will be able to unite the ANC, and push back against corruption.