The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from President Jacob Zuma as the next leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
"After an intense and robust debate, the CEC [central executive committee] has resolved to support and lobby for the deputy president of the ANC, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, to take over the reins as the next president of the ANC," Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters on Thursday.
The trade union federation wanted the ANC to avoid a contested elective conference next year.
A number of Cosatu-affiliated unions including the Communication Workers Union and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union have called for Zuma to quit amid growing dissatisfaction with his leadership.
Cosatu holds the membership of the National Union of Mineworkers, South Africa's biggest trade union. It lost significant members in the runup to and after the Marikana massacre that took place in 2012, where 44 people were killed during violence at Lonmin's platinum mine by the same name. Thirty-four of those were miners, and a commission of inquiry was opened following the biggest mass killing of people since apartheid. Their strike demands included a wage of R12,500.
Ramaphosa was a focal point of during that time as he was a nonexecutive member of the mine's board.
This story is developing.
Additional reporting by Deshnee Subramany