Bloomberg News

South Africa’s Biggest Labor Union Re-Elects Zuma Ally

May 26, 2012

South Africa’s largest labor union, the National Union of Mineworkers, re-elected Frans Baleni as general-secretary, bolstering President Jacob Zuma’s campaign to win a second term.

Baleni, a Zuma ally, defeated his deputy Oupa Komane at the NUM’s national conference in Johannesburg today, Lesiba Seshoka, a spokesman for the union, said in a text message.

With about 300,000 members, the NUM is the largest member of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the labor group that helped Zuma oust his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, as leader of the ruling African National Congress in 2007. Zuma became president of Africa’s biggest economy two years later.

The NUM has produced some of South Africa’s top political leaders, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Gwede Mantashe, the ANC’s secretary-general and Cyril Ramaphosa, the party’s former secretary-general and one of the country’s wealthiest black businessmen.

Baleni opposed a push by the ANC Youth League to nationalize the country’s mines, saying it is scaring off potential investors, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times reported on July 3. The youth league has dropped its support for Zuma ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December.

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and chrome and also produces gold and diamonds.

To contact the reporters on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at; Stephen Gunnion in Johannesburg at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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