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By Martin Williams

Councillor at City

First the mineworkers, next the election – Get used to rejection, Cyril

No matter whether Ramaphosa or an RET candidate wins the ANC presidency in December, the next president of the country looks set to come from a different party

One topic dominates ANC discourse until December: who will be president? Will Cyril Ramaphosa be re-elected, or will a radical economic transformation (RET) candidate defeat him?

This is the context for Ramaphosa’s loss of face when he abandoned his Workers’ Day address at a poorly attended Cosatu rally in Phokeng.

Mineworkers had enough

Mineworkers booed him and stormed the stage, demanding that he leave. Does this mean Ramaphosa is headed for defeat in December?


It does suggest he was badly advised and any “intelligence” gathering was pitiful. He should not have been placed at the centre of the Sibanye-Stillwater mineworkers’ strike.

Organised by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the much-publicised strike has been going on for months.

Cosatu, as hosts of the Workers’ Day meeting, couldn’t contain the protest by Sibanye-Stillwater miners, not all of whom are loyal to the union federation.

Much else was wrong too.

No thought for Marikana

Geographically, the Royal Bafokeng Stadium venue is not too far from Marikana, where critics say Ramaphosa has not redeemed himself for his alleged role in the 2012 massacre.

For him, this was not going to be a welcoming place. Cosatu’s inability to draw a crowd to the stadium is also instructive.

The union federation has stiff competition in the area. Like Cyril’s advisors, it is out of touch.

So, with hindsight, it is easy to see that staging Cosatu’s Workers’ Day rally at Royal Bafokeng, with Cyril as keynote speaker in the current climate, was going to be risky, not only for the president.

With the economy in a bad way and unemployment high, there is something awkward about celebrating Workers’ Day.

The location compounded the anomalies.

Also at risk here is the tripartite alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, who all claim to represent workers.

With unemployment at 46% (on the expanded definition), more than two million jobs lost in the past two years and inflation outstripping many wage increases, workers are not happy.

And neither the ANC, nor the alliance can realistically offer them comfort.

These leaders are out of touch. Nothing Ramaphosa could have said would have placated Sibanye-Stillwater’s disgruntled workers.

Cosatu’s value to the alliance is reduced as union membership plummets. Its fabled organisation and mobilising abilities are withering.

And SACP leaders are reportedly feeling marginalised by their ANC partners.

The long-predicted unravelling of the tripartite alliance received a further nudge with some of the negative comments from Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi “warning” the ANC after the abortive rally.

Conflict and further fallout are inevitable as the ANC loses its grip. That is what we are witnessing: the disintegration of the ANC and its alliance.

More to come, Cyril

Ramaphosa’s humiliation on Workers’ Day is another signpost on the road to the 2024 elections.

No matter whether Ramaphosa or an RET candidate wins the ANC presidency in December, the next president of the country looks set to come from a different party.

One that is more in touch with the people.

Ramaphosa must grow accustomed to rejection.

There’s more to come.

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