Profile for new SA ruling party President
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is a South African politician, businessman, activist and trade union leader born November 17, 1952. He has served as the Deputy President of South Africa under President Jacob Zuma since 2014.
Ramaphosa is the second of the three children of Erdmuth and Samuel Ramaphosa, a retired policeman. He grew up in the South Western Township (Soweto), attending Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano Ntoane High School in Soweto.
In 1971, he matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Venda. He subsequently registered to study law at the University of the North (Turfloop) in 1972. While at university, Ramaphosa became involved in student politics and joined the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and the Black People's Convention (BPC). This resulted in him being detained in solitary confinement for eleven months in 1974 under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, for organising pro-Frelimo rallies.
In 1976, he was detained again, following the unrest in Soweto, and held for six months at John Vorster Square under the Terrorism Act. After his release, he became a law clerk for a Johannesburg firm of attorneys and continued with his articles through correspondence with the University of South Africa, where he obtained his B. Proc. Degree in 1981. He completed his articles in the same year.
After obtaining his degree, Ramaphosa joined the National Council of Trade Unions (NCTU) as a legal advisor. In 1982, CUSA requested that Ramaphosa start a union for mineworkers; this new union was launched in the same year and was named the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Ramaphosa was arrested in Lebowa, on the charge of organising or planning to take part in a meeting in Namakgale which was banned by the local magistrate.
He was elected as President of the African National Congress (ANC) at the ANC National Conference in Nasrec, South of Johannesburg in December 2017. He is also the Chairman of the National Planning Commission, which is responsible for strategic planning for the future of South Africa, with the goal of rallying the nation "around a common set of objectives and priorities to drive development over the longer term".
He is respected as a skillful negotiator and strategist who acted as the ANC's Chief Negotiator during South Africa's transition to democracy. Ramaphosa built up the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). He played a crucial role, with Roelf Meyer of the National Party, during the negotiations to bring about a peaceful end to apartheid and steer the country towards it's first fully democratic elections in April 1994.
Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela’s choice for future President. Today, Cyril Ramaphosa is well known as a prominent businessman and has an estimated net worth of over $450,000,000 with 31 properties and previously held notable ownership in companies such as McDonald's South Africa, chairperson of board for MTN and member of the board for Lonmin.
In spite of his credentials as an important proponent of South Africa's peaceful transition to democracy, he has also been widely criticised for the conduct of his business interests although he has never been indicted for illegal activity in any of these controversies.
Controversial business dealings include acting as Chairperson for the MTN Group during the MTN Irancell scandal when that organisation bribed officials in Iran, his joint venture with Glencore and allegations of benefitting illegally from coal deals with Eskom which he has staunchly denied, during which Glencore was in the public spotlight for its tendentious business activities involving Tony Blair in the Middle East; and his employment on the board of directors of Lonmin while taking an active stance when the Marikana Massacre took place on Lonmin's Marikana premises.
On August 15, 2012, he called for action against the Marikana miners' strike, which he called "dastardly criminal" conduct. He also admitted and regretted later for his involvement in the act and it could have been avoided if contingency plans had been made prior to the labour strike.
Subsequent to his election as Secretary General of the ANC in 1991, he became head of the negotiation team of the ANC in negotiating the end of apartheid with the National Party government. Following the first fully democratic elections in 1994, Ramaphosa became a member of parliament; he was elected the chairperson of its Constitutional Assembly on May 24, 1994 and played a central role in the government of national unity.
After he lost the race to become President of South Africa to Thabo Mbeki, he resigned from his political positions in January 1997 and moved to the private sector, where he became a director of New Africa Investments Limited. He came in first place in the 1997 election to the ANC's National Executive Committee.
While not a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Ramaphosa has claimed that he is a committed socialist. The media continually speculated on Ramaphosa joining the race for the presidency of the ANC in 2007, before the 2009 South African presidential election. However, he stated that he is not interested in the presidency.
On September 2, 2007, The Sunday Times reported that Ramaphosa was in the election race, but by that evening he had released a statement once again holding back on any commitment. In December 2007, he was again elected to the ANC National Executive Committee, this time in 30th place with 1 910 votes.
On May 20, 2012, prominent Afrikaner ANC member, Derek Hanekom, asked Ramaphosa to run for President of the ANC, stating that "We need leaders of comrade Cyril's calibre. I know Cyril is very good at business, but I really wish he would put all his money in a trust and step up for a higher and more senior position". Although it was unknown whether or not Ramaphosa will run for President of the ANC, he attempted to quiet the speculation by responding to Hanekom's comment by stating "You can't read anything [into what he said]. He was joking".
He officially became a candidate for the Deputy Presidency on December 17, 2012, and entered the race with the strong backing of the Zuma camp. On December 18, 2012, he was elected as Deputy President of the ANC. Cyril Ramaphosa received 3 018 votes, while Mathews Phosa received 470 votes and Tokyo Sexwale received 463 votes. On December 18, 2017, Ramaphosa was finally elected as the President of the ANC.
Ramaphosa was appointed Deputy President by Jacob Zuma on May 25, 2014, and sworn into office by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng the following day. Following his appointment, Ramaphosa was made Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly in terms of section 91 of the Constitution. His responsibilities included: The affairs of the national executive in Parliament; the programming of parliamentary business initiated by the national executive, within the time allocated for that purpose and ensuring that Cabinet members attend to their parliamentary responsibilities.
On June 3, 2014, President Jacob Zuma announced that Ramaphosa would be appointed as Chairman of the National Planning Commission, with Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Jeff Radebe serving as the Commission's Deputy Chairperson.
In July 2014, Ramaphosa called for unity in the country, following calls by Julius Malema to scrap the singing of the Afrikaans portion of the national anthem. Ramaphosa said: "We are about building a nation and we must extend a hand of friendship, a hand of continued reconciliation to those who feel that the national anthem does not represent them any longer, and it can happen on both sides".
Ramaphosa paid a visit to Lesotho in 2016 as the South African Development Community (SADC) facilitator. Ramaposa paid a courtesy visit to His Majesty King Letsie III and Prime Minister, Phakalitha Mosisili and his coalition leaders. Ramaphosa went to Lssotho to consolidate peace and security ahead of the SADC Summit of Heads of States and Governments. Ramaphosa was among the mandate at the SADC Double Troika held in June 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana, to facilitate the return of opposition political party leaders to Lesotho from South Africa.
Among other positions, he is executive chairman of Shanduka Group, a company he founded. Shanduka Group has investments in the Resources Sector, Energy Sector, Real Estate, Banking, Insurance, and Telecoms (SEACOM). He is also chairperson of The Bidvest Group Limited, and MTN.
His other non-executive directorships include Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes and Standard Bank. In March 2007 he was appointed Non-Executive joint Chairman of Mondi, a leading international paper and packaging group, when the company demerged from Anglo American plc. In July 2013 he retired from the board of SABMiller plc.
He is one of South Africa’s richest men, with Forbes estimating his wealth at $675 million.
In 2011 Ramaphosa paid for a 20-year master franchise agreement to run 145 McDonald's restaurants in South Africa. Shortly after the 2012 general election, Ramaphosa announced that he was going to disinvest from Shanduka to fulfill his new responsibilities as Deputy President without the possibility of conflict of interest.
McDonald's South Africa announced that there would be a process underway to replace Ramaphosa as the current development licensee of the fast food chain operation in South Africa. In 2014 after becoming Deputy President of South Africa the Register of Members' interests, tabled at parliament, revealed Ramaphosa's wealth.
Over and above the more than R76 million Ramaphosa accumulated in company shares, the documents showed that the former trade unionist and businessman owned 30 properties in Johannesburg and two apartments in Cape Town. The register also confirmed Ramaphosa's resignation from Lonmin, a directorship for which he was criticised during the Marikana Massacre in 2012.
Ramaphosa is private and not much is known about his private life. Ramaphosa had previously been married to business woman Nomazizi Mtshotshisa, but the couple divorced. He later married Tshepo Motsepe, the sister of South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe.
Ramaphosa has four children. He owns a R30 million luxury mansion at the foot of Lions Head Cape Town. Ramaphosa is known to be one of the richest people in South Africa, with an estimated net worth of more than $450 million, and has appeared in financial magazines such as Forbes Africa and Bloomberg. Ramaphosa is also the founder of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.
On December 18, 2017, Ramaphosa became President of the ANC at the party's 54th conference after defeating his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of Zuma, with 2 440 delegates to 2 261.