The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have called out on the ANC to still maintain the culture of deputy presidents succeeding the president in the coming elections.
The group warned that the election of any candidate from KwaZulu-Natal to succeed Jacob Zuma as the ANC’s president in 2017 could be interpreted as tribalism.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with a news media, Mail & Guardian, NUM secretary general David Sipunzi supported the move that the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa take over from Zuma, saying he has the capacity to lead the governing party and the country.
Sipunzi also said only exceptional reason(s) would be needed to justify why the party’s long-standing tradition of the deputy succeeding the president should be broken.
“We say, if that tradition has to be broken, there should be convincing reasons out there. And we don’t want to make it sound as if this thing has some tribalistic element in it. Now because it is a Venda boy who has to lead the country, that’s a no-no. We don’t want it to take that route,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s bid to take over the ANC will probably be contested by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, outgoing chairperson of the African Union Commission, or Baleka Mbete, speaker of the National Assembly.
The tuzzle for power has resulted to what is now known as the premier league – the rise of a powerful group of “kingmakers” in the party who are lobbying for a female president to succeed President Jacob Zuma next year.
The party’s dominant faction including Mpumalanga, Free State and North West party chairpersons, has indicated it would support a woman candidate to succeed Zuma. While COSATU supported the endorsement of the ANC’s tradition that its deputy automatically becomes the leader of the party and the country when the current leader’s term comes to an end.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has said South Africa is ready for a female president but Sipunzi sees no contradiction in backing Ramaphosa despite the perception that Ramaphosa sold them out when he left trade union politics and entered private business.
“The [workers who think he sold them out] are a lot but if you were to compare those workers with those who would favour him to be president, they are a fraction,” Sipunzi said.
NUM however, accused the party of being in favour of some classes ahead of workers. The union’s secretary Sipunzi said they are disappointed but that at the same time, they are aware that being president of the country means you have a broader constituency.
He added that the union wouldn’t give the party a zero out of 10, they would rather give them four out of 10.