Durban - Although seen as President Jacob Zuma’s right-hand man, Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini has broken ranks with Zuma’s camp by following his federation to endorse Cyril Ramaphosa as the next president of the ANC and the country.

Those who are known as Zuma loyalists - which are the ANC and ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal, and the ANCYL national leadership - had been lobbying for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over the reins.

Zuma is also believed to be supporting his former wife to replace him.

Durban political analyst Xolani Dube said that if most Cosatu members supported Ramaphosa, Dlamini was left with no choice but to follow suit. He said his decision to go with Ramaphosa followed a robust debate during Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting last month.

“This was the decision of the Cosatu central executive committee, not an individual. It doesn't matter what individuals felt,” he said.

The CEC had debated the question of who should rescue the ANC from its political gridlock. It then chose Ramaphosa to take over the reins.

Dlamini said the CEC had seen Ramaphosa as a unifier, capable of working with the collective leadership and taking the ruling party forward.

“The central executive committee was looking for a person capable of working for the poor,” he said.

When asked if Dlamini-Zuma had such qualities, Dlamini said she wasn't discussed.

Dlamini was part of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting near Pretoria at the weekend, where Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom tabled an unsuccessful motion of no confidence against Zuma. He was supported by Naledi Pandor, Aaron Motsoaledi and Pravin Gordhan, among other ministers.

When asked how he felt about Zuma’s leadership, Dlamini declined to respond.

Since the unsuccessful motion, Hanekom had been attacked by Zuma’s backers, with the ANCYL KZN and in the eThekwini region - the biggest in the country - calling for all those who didn't trust Zuma to resign from the NEC and the cabinet.

As it was predicted that the ANC's elective congress would take place towards the end of next year, Dlamini said,Cosatu would put its support for Ramaphosa before the ANC structures to be debated.

“Since Cosatu has no voting power in the ANC conference, we will lobby them and see how they respond,” he said.

Dube said that showed Dlamini had lost control of Cosatu.

The Mercury