EKURHULENI mayor Mondli Gungubele says power battles and corruption in the ruling alliance are eroding the confidence voters have in the African National Congress (ANC). He was speaking at the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) four-day conference, which began in Boksburg on Wednesday.

The conference will elect leaders on Saturday, with NUM general secretary Frans Baleni facing a strong challenge from his deputy Oupa Komane.

The leadership battle in the NUM, the Congress of South African Trade Unions' largest affiliate, has consequences for elections this year in Cosatu as well as in the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The NUM general secretary post is a powerful platform, boosting the careers of the likes of former ANC secretary- general Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Mr Gungubele, a former trade unionist, said the image of the ANC and its allies was dented by internal fighting and reports of corruption. The support of the millions who back the ANC should not be taken for granted, he said.

Mr Gungubele, asked: "Who will continue to elect us if we continue to be reflected in the newspapers of our country on a daily basis, on issues of corruption?"

The conference will also provide a "sober analysis" of the ANC leadership's progress, and discuss proposals on the nationalisation of the mines.

Under Mr Baleni, the NUM has backed Mr Zuma in ANC power battles. This could change if Mr Komane's team wins this election, insiders say.

With NATASHA MARRIAN

mkokelis@bdfm.co.za