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Ramaphosa sweet-talks S.African trade unions

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed Tuesday to rebuild ties between the ruling ANC party and the influential Cosatu trade union federation ahead of next year’s election.

The African National Congress (ANC) has held power since 1994, supported by an alliance with Cosatu and the South African Communist Party.

But the partnership broke down under former president Jacob Zuma, who was ousted from power in February after nine years in office.

“These coming elections is where we, as an alliance, have to be united,” Ramaphosa said after meeting with Cosatu leaders in Johannesburg.

“We have to play a key role together as we lead our people… We are a campaigning alliance.”

Cosatu — the Confederation of South African Trade Unions — clashed with the ANC by calling for Zuma to step down, while the Communist Party threatened to campaign as a standalone party against ANC in the upcoming elections.

Ramaphosa will lead the ANC into the 2019 general election against the main opposition Democratic Alliance and the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

But the party’s declining popularity was revealed in the 2016 local elections when the ANC lost controlling power over three key cities including the country’s capital Pretoria.

Before the election, Ramaphosa — a former trade union leader — faces the challenge of reviving the party’s image which was marred by corruption scandals under Zuma.