Cyril Ramaphosa is the leader of the African National Congress (ANC).
Ramaphosa earned his political stripes through his involvement in the liberation struggle for a democratic South Africa.
His repertoire, however, extends far beyond political prowess and includes an astute business acumen and a sincere penchant for social philanthropy.
He became the country’s fifth president, following the resignation
of Jacob Zuma, who had been mired in political scandal for more than a decade.
Ramaphosa’s childhood in brief
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa was born in Johannesburg on 17
November 1952. His father, Samuel, was a retired policeman who had worked for a
government which was, at the time, intensifying its policy of racial
Ramaphosa, along with his two siblings, grew up in Soweto,
attending Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano-Ntoane High School. Despite most
of his childhood being spent in Soweto, Ramaphosa matriculated from Mphaphuli
High School in Sibasa, Venda – modern-day Limpopo – in 1971. During his final
year at Mphaphuli High School, Ramaphosa was elected head of the Student
How Ramaphosa got involved in politics
Before CUSA resolved to form the National Union of
Mineworkers (NUM) in 1982, Ramaphosa was arrested once more for planning a
meeting in Namakgale which had been outlawed by the local magistrate. Luckily
for Ramaphosa, no real jail time followed this particular transgression.
He continued his work with the unions and eventually fled to the United Kingdom, where he met with NUM president, James Motlatsi, and addressed a conference of the British national union of Mineworkers.
Ramaphosa was subsequently denied a British passport but found fortune when he became the recipient of the Olaf Palme prize, which he was granted permission to collect in Stockholm.
He returned to South Africa in 1988. By the time South Africa had transcended into democracy, Ramaphosa had become a highly respected ANC cadre. Following the pomp and ceremony associated with Mandela’s release, Ramaphosa was elected General-Secretary of the ANC in a conference held in Durban in July 1991.
A trade unionist, capitalist and Marikana
Ramaphosa’s charm and appeal, many believe, is that he straddles the line between unions and business with ease. Away from politics, he has held several business interests. But it’s that same approach that has earned him the label of “traitor” in some circles.
This exact juxtaposition caught up with him on 16 August 2012. The Marikana Massacre, in which 34 striking miners were gunned down by police officers, is undoubtedly one of the most disastrous stains on Ramaphosa’s political resume.
During the subsequent commission, it was revealed that
Lonmin management had solicited Ramaphosa, as a Lonmin shareholder and ANC
executive, to coordinate “concomitant action” against “criminal” protesters. As
such, Ramaphosa has been viewed as responsible for one of the deadliest
massacres in South Africa’s recent democratic history.
The Farlam Commission, the inquiry into the Marikana
massacre, mostly exonerated Ramaphosa from wrongdoing and he apologised for the
words he used, saying in his first ever state of the nation speech:
“I would like to use this opportunity to address what role I played in my capacity as a Lonmin director in the events of the tragic week. Notwithstanding the findings of the Farlam Commission on my responsibility for the events that unfolded‚ I am determined to play whatever role I can in the process of healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana‚” he said.
Cyril Ramaphosa: Interesting facts and achievements
- Ramaphosa is the man credited with bringing McDonald’s to South Africa, at one time owning over 145 fast food outlets. Ramaphosa is a member of the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board.
- Ramaphosa has been married three times and has fathered five children. He is currently married to Tshepo Motsepe, a medical doctor and the sister of South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe.
- Ramaphosa is known to be one of the wealthiest people in South Africa, with an approximate net worth of R5.67 billion. The president owns multiple properties all over the country, including farms and a luxury mansion at the foot of Lion’s Head in Cape Town.
- Ramaphosa was an acting professor of law at Sanford University in 1991.
- The president is famous for his prized Ankole cattle. In 2017 one of his bulls sold for a R640 000 at auction.
- Ramaphosa has resolved to donate half of his presidential salary to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.