South Africa

Ramaphosa is going nowhere – Cosatu

Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s most powerful labour union federation, which is allied with the ANC, said any coalition deal struck by the party after its disastrous election performance last week must ensure President Cyril Ramaphosa retains his post and its manifesto pledges are upheld.

The ANC has been thrown into disarray after winning just 40.2% of votes cast on May 29, ceding its majority for the first time in 30 years.

That performance leaves it facing a choice between an arrangement with its bitter rival, the centrist Democratic Alliance, or working with populist parties whose policies and public statements have alarmed investors.

“What’s key is that a coalition be led by the ANC and President Ramaphosa, be progressive and biased toward the needs of working-class communities,” Cosatu, which has supported the ANC in every election since it took power in 1994, said in comments sent to Bloomberg on Monday.

The new government should “defend the rights of workers, grow the economy and create jobs, tackle crime and corruption, invest in public services and unite the nation,” it said, without specifying which other parties it wanted included.

Cosatu, whose affiliate unions represent 1.8 million workers, including those of a labour group founded by Ramaphosa in the 1980s, said it would consult on the way forward with the ANC and the South African Communist Party, a small but historically important political formation that’s been part of the nation’s ruling alliance since apartheid ended in 1994.

Among the priorities included in the ANC’s manifesto are job creation, battling crime and improving infrastructure — all of which could be agreed to by the DA, which, with 21.8% of the vote, is the second-biggest party.

Still, a pledge to phase in a controversial national health insurance system and differences over foreign policy could prove potential stumbling blocks.

The manifesto makes no mention of the widespread nationalisation of land, banks and mines demanded by the populist Economic Freedom Fighters and the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, set up by former President Jacob Zuma.

The latter party has demanded that Ramaphosa step down as a condition of any deal. It won 14.6% of the vote, while the EFF garnered 9.5%.

“Cyril will remain,” said Matthew Parks, Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator. “That’s non-negotiable.”

In an earlier statement, the federation criticised allegations made by MKP, as Zuma’s party is known, about the conduct of the Independent Electoral Commission.

“We reject with contempt the nonsensical attacks on the IEC and the legitimacy of the elections by some desperate politicians,” Cosatu said.

“It is clear to all sober persons that the elections were free and fair.”


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