Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected as the new president of the ANC. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

Johannesburg - The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says the working class and the poor majority of South Africans have "no reason to celebrate" Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's election as the new leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Patrick Craven, Saftu Acting Spokesperson, said in a statement late on Monday that his federation of unions "has no confidence in new ANC leadership".

Ramaphosa edged out Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the former chairperson of the African Union Commission, to succeed President Jacob Zuma.

David Mabuza, the Mpumalanga premier, was elected deputy president of the party, which will now be chaired by Gwede Mantashe. Paul Mashatile was elected treasurer. Ace Magashule, premier of the Free State, is the new secretary general. His deputy is Jessie Duarte, the only member of the Top Six to retain her position.

Reacting to the ANC leadership change, Craven said: "None of the major problems facing the majority of South Africans will be any closer to a solution as the leadership is placed in the hands of a multi-billionaire who has been reported at one stage to be sitting on boards of over 100 private companies".

"The immediate positive response of the money markets and business leaders is a clear indication of who will be celebrating today. Big business has one of their own at the head of the ruling party. They will see more of the same market-friendly economic policies as the National Development Plan which he has championed."

The rand responded well strengthening against the US dollar the election of the 65-year-old former union leader and businessman. At the close of business on Monday the rand was trading 2.6% firmer at 12.75/dollar as of 1749 GMT.

"This may persuade the ratings agencies to soften their recent decisions to downgrade the economy to junk status, but nothing to persuade workers and the poor that we are going to see more jobs, less poverty, and a more equal society," said Craven.

"On the contrary Ramaphosa, the architect of the poverty nation minimum wage of R20 an hour, is more likely to respond to calls from the ratings agencies, World Bank and International Monetary Fund for their usual medicine for a country facing economic crisis - austerity, public spending cuts and moves to further limit the rights of trade unions.

"By far the biggest reason not to have any trust in Ramaphosa was his role as a director of Lonmin when 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead in Marikana in 2012, after he had urged the police to take 'concomitant action' to end the strike." 

Saftu also took issue with the election of Mabusa, Magashula and the re-election of Duarte citing allegations of impropriety.

"Mabuza was exposed in 2014 in Mazilikazi wa Africa’s brilliant book 'Nothing Left to Steal' as a ruthless provincial warlord, linked to a series of scandals including being accused of complicity in the alleged murders of political opponents," said Craven in his lengthy statement. 

"Magashule has been embroiled in one corruption scandal after another. In 2015, he received R8-million of public money for an aesthetic upgrade of his Free State residence. The Free State government said that Magashule needed a new swimming pool because his existing one was too large and unnecessarily deep”.

Craven said Magashule emerged as one of the key figures in the GuptaLeaks emails. AmaBhungane and Scorpio detailed how the Guptas lavished Magashule’s sons with gifts and financial rewards. 

"It was under Magashule’s watch that the Guptas were given a free piece of Free State land and R184-million of taxpayers’ money to start a bogus dairy farm, and then used some of this money to pay for the infamous Gupta wedding in Sun City," said Craven.

"Duarte has been one of President Zuma’s most consistent supporters and has opposed any move to pursue charges of corruption against him. Saftu must also condemn the fact that Duarte is now the only woman in the top six."

The Saftu acting spokesperson said even if Ramaphosa, Mantashe, and Mashatile want to prosecute those facing prima facie evidence of corruption and other crimes, the other three could cause a deadlock and block any united action to enforce such a move. 

"How can this top six be expected to wage a serious fight against corruption?"

Craven lamented that while delegates at the Nasrec conference were spending three days electing their new leaders, politics was barely discussed. There was no attempt to grapple with the crisis the country, which is affecting ANC voters in particular. 

"The time has come for workers and the poor to accept that the leadership of this once mighty national liberation movement has degenerated into a gang of factional wolves, fighting over the quickest way to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies at the feeding trough."

African News Agency/ANA