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Ramaphosa Mediates in Bid to Prevent South Africa Union Split

April 09, 2014

Former Labor Union Leader Turned Tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa won Zuma’s appreciation by heading the appeals panel that upheld the party’s expulsion of Julius Malema, the former leader of the youth league who backs Motlanthe as ANC leader. Photographer: City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, is mediating between rival factions of the country’s biggest labor federation in a bid to prevent it from splitting.

Members of the 1.2-million-member Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu, have been at loggerheads since last year over the suspension of General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, Cosatu’s largest affiliate, threatened to withhold its membership dues and refused to endorse the ANC in next month’s election, risking its suspension or expulsion from the federation.

In an address to Cosatu’s central executive committee yesterday, Ramaphosa called for a “cease-fire” and for all parties to stop undermining the group’s unity, the federation said in an e-mail today. The committee agreed to the proposal and adjourned a scheduled meeting for 14 days.

“All comrades would need to persuade and convince one another to reach agreement on issues,” Cosatu said. “The timescale for completing the process should be no more than one month.”

Vavi was suspended on Aug. 15 after Cosatu investigated him for alleged irregularities in the sale of the federation’s headquarters in Johannesburg and having an affair with an employee he hired and suspended.

On April 4, the High Court ruled his suspension illegal and invalid because due process wasn’t followed.

To contact the reporters on this story: Amogelang Mbatha in Johannesburg at; Mike Cohen in Cape Town at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at Karl Maier, Michael Gunn

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