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The booing of President Cyril Ramaphosa by union members of his political alma mater in the labour movement, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), from the Kloof mine was a tragic twist to a decades-long story.

The impasse at mine owner Sibanye is serious enough that the president expressed his willingness to engage, or to get his colleagues to intervene and facilitate dialogue between the parties. He may have hoped he could draw on the fact that those who had disrupted proceedings came from “his” union, NUM, and the Association of Mining & Construction Union (Amcu), the breakaway it spawned in 1998...

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