Don't Miss
Home / Biographies / Cyril Ramaphosa Biography

Cyril Ramaphosa Biography

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (born 17 November 1952) is a South African politician, businessman, activist, and trade union leader who has served as the Deputy President under President Jacob Zuma since 2014. He was elected as Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC) at the ANC National Conference in Mangaung in December 2012. He is also the Chairman of the National Planning Commission, which is responsible for strategic planning for the country

Respected as a skillful negotiator and strategist, Ramaphosa built up the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa—the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)—and 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 its first democratic elections in April 1994.

He has been criticised, however, for his business interests, which include a seat on the board of Lonmin. On 15 August 2012 he called for action against the Marikana miners’ strike, which he called “dastardly criminal” conduct.

He is married to Dr. Tshepo Motsepe and he has four children.

Cyril Ramaphosa
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa - South African Deputy President, politician, businessman, activist, and trade union leader
Deputy President of South Africa
Incumbent
Assumed office
26 May 2014
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Chairperson of the National Planning Commission
Incumbent
Assumed office
3 June 2014
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Trevor Manuel
Deputy President of the African National Congress
Incumbent
Assumed office
18 December 2012
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Secretary General of the African National Congress
In office
1991–1997
President Nelson Mandela
Preceded by Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo
Succeeded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Personal details
Born 17 November 1952 (age 64)
Soweto, South Africa
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Tshepo Motsepe
Children 4
Alma mater University of Limpopo
University of South Africa

Early life and education

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa was born in Soweto, Johannesburg, on 17 November 1952. He 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 (UNISA), where he obtained his B. Proc. Degree in 1981.

He completed his articles in the same year, and joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (Cusa) as an advisor in the legal department.

Political activist and trade union leader

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.

Fight against apartheid

In August 1982, Cusa resolved to form National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and in December Ramaphosa became its first secretary. Ramaphosa was conference organiser in the preparations leading to the formations of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU). He delivered a keynote address at Cosatu’s launch rally in Durban in December 1985. In March 1986 he was part of COSATU’s delegation which met the African National Congress in Lusaka, Zambia.

Ramaphosa was elected as the first General Secretary of the union, a position he held until he resigned in June 1991, following his election as Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC). Under his leadership, union membership grew from 6,000 in 1982 to 300,000 in 1992, giving it control of nearly half of the total black workforce in the South African mining industry. As General Secretary, he, James Motlatsi (President of NUM), and Elijah Barayi (Vice President of NUM) also led the mineworkers in one of the biggest strikes ever in South African history.

In December 1988, Ramaphosa and other prominent members of the Soweto community met Soweto’s Mayor to discuss the rent boycott crisis.

In January 1990, Ramaphosa accompanied released ANC political prisoners to Lusaka, Zambia. Ramaphosa served as chairman of the National Reception committee, which co-ordinated arrangements for the release of Nelson Mandela and subsequent welcome rallies within South Africa, and also became a member of the international Mandela Reception committee. He was elected General-Secretary of the ANC in a conference held in Durban in July 1991. Ramaphosa was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University in the United States in October 1991.

In 1985, the NUM broke away from CUSA and helped to establish the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). When COSATU joined forces with the United Democratic Front (UDF) political movement against the National Party government of P. W. Botha, Ramaphosa took a leading role in what became known as the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Ramaphosa was on the National Reception Committee.

Politician

Subsequent to his election as Secretary General of the African National Congress 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 24 May 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 has stated that he is not interested in the presidency. On 2 September 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 20 May 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 is 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 17 December 2012 and entered the race with the strong backing of the Zuma camp, on 18 December 2012, he was elected deputy president of the ANC. Cyril Ramaphosa received 3 018 votes, while Mathews Phosa received 470 votes and Tokyo Sexwale received 463 votes.

53rd ANC elective conference

Since Ramaphosa became deputy president of the African National Congress in the party’s 2012 elective conference there has been speculation that Ramaphosa would run for the President of the ANC in 2017 and succeed Jacob Zuma as the ANC president.

Ramaphosa faces other prominent high profile ANC politicians like Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union and the former wife of Jacob Zuma, and Baleka Mbete the former Deputy President of South Africa and the current Speaker of the National Assembly.

Ramaphosa has received backing and endorsements from Zweli Mkhize, Bheki Cele, Senzo Mchunu, COSATU and the National Union of Mineworkers.

Deputy President

Cyril Ramaphosa meets with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, 2014

Cyril Ramaphosa meets with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, 2014

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(4) of the Constitution. His responsibilities will include: 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 3 June 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 Chairman.

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”.

Foreign Relations

China

In 2015 Ramaphosa arrived in Beijing, China on an official state visit. Ramaphosa led a delegation of Government, state-owned enterprise, and business people. Ramaphosa held bilateral and economic discussions with Vice-President, Li Yuan Chao and met with Li Qiang, the Premier of the State Council of the Republic of China. The bilateral discussions between Ramaphosa and his Chinese counterpart Li Yuan Chao, were focused on trade, investment, cooperation, financial cooperation (including the BRICS New Development Bank), infrastructure development and energy issues.

The bilateral discussions took place within the framework of a five-to-ten year programme that President Jacob Zuma discussed during his state visit ti China in 2014.

Vietnam & Singapore

Ramaphosa went on a two day working visit to both the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Singapore. Ramaphosa said that South Africa and Vietnam needed to expand trade. The two countries have also agreed to cooperate further on education. Both working visits were undertaken to consolidate existing bilateral political, economic and trade relations between South Africa and the two countries. The visit to Singapore provided the South African delegation, led by Ramaphosa with an opportunity to learn from the Singaporean model of economic success and the role of State-owned enterprise and economic growth and national developmental objectives of the country. Bilateral trade has grown significantly with Signapore being South Africa’s second largest trading partner in the Asian Region. By 2014 bilateral trade amounted to R28.9 Billion compared to R23.5 Billion in 2015.

Lesotho

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 Lesotho 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.

Economy

Nedlac

On August 2016 Ramaphosa appointed a seven person panel to advise on the appropriate level at which that national minimum wage could be set. Ramaphosa did this in his capacity as the chair of the Committee of National Principles of the National Economic Development Council (NEDLAC). The committee compromises representatives of government, labour, business and the community. It was charged with determining that national minimum wage.

Corruption

In November 2016 while speaking at the Limpopo Provincial Summit, Ramaphosa said that corruption was the root to the country’s ailing economy. Ramaphosa said that the South African Government and the South African business community had to find a way to combat corruption. Ramaphosa said that the summit should look at addressing quality and depth of leaders within the puclic and private sectors by adhering to tha National Development Plan.

Businessman

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 chairman 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 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 free him up to fulfill his new responsibilities as Deputy President without the possibility of conflict of interest. McDonald’s South Africa announced that that their would be a process underway to replace Ramaphosa as the current development lisensee 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 that Ramaphosa was a wealthy politician.

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 in during the Marikana Massacre in 2012.

Personal life

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.

Ramaphosa later married Dr. Tshepo Motsepe the sister of billionaire and mining magnate Patrice Motsepe. Ramaphosa has four children.

Ramaphosa 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 and estimated networth of $450 million and has appeard in financial magazines such as Forbes Africa and Bloomberg.

Ramaphosa is also the founder of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.

Controversy

The Marikana massacre, as referred to in the media, occurred when police broke up an occupation by striking Lonmin workers of a “koppie” (hilltop) near Nkaneng shack settlement in Marikana on 16 August 2012. As a result of the police shootings, 34 miners died and an additional 78 miners were injured causing anger and outcry against the police and South African government. Further controversy emerged after it was discovered that most of the victims were shot in the back and many victims were shot far from police lines. The violence on 16 August 2012 was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of the apartheid era.

During the Marikana Commission, it also emerged that Lonmin management solicited Lonmin shareholder and ANC heavyweight, Cyril Ramaphosa, to coordinate “concomitant action” against “criminal” protesters and is seen by many as therefore being responsible for the massacre.

Honorary doctorates and awards

Among others, Ramaphosa has received honorary doctorates from the University of Natal, the University of Port Elizabeth, the University of Cape Town, the University of the North, the National University of Lesotho, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Pennsylvania. In October 1991, he was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University.

Ramaphosa received the Olof Palme prize in Stockholm in October 1987.

In 2004, he was voted 34th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

Ramaphosa was included in the 2007 Time 100, an annual list of 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.

International positions

In his role as a businessman, Ramaphosa is a member of the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board as well as the Unilever Africa Advisory Council. He was also the first deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council.

Along with the ex-president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, he was appointed an inspector of the Irish Republican Army weapons dumps in Northern Ireland. Ramaphosa is the Honorary Consul General for Iceland in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis, which followed the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007, Ramaphosa was unanimously chosen by the mediation team headed by Kofi Annan to be the chief mediator in charge of leading long-term talks; however, Kibaki’s government expressed dissatisfaction with the choice of Ramaphosa, saying that he had business links with Kibaki’s opponent Raila Odinga, and on 4 February Annan accepted Ramaphosa’s withdrawal from the role of chief mediator. According to Ramaphosa, Odinga had visited him in 2007, but he did not have any “special interest” that would lead him to favor one side or the other; however, he said that he could not be an effective mediator without “the trust and confidence of all parties” and that he therefore felt it would be best for him to return to South Africa to avoid becoming an obstacle in the negotiation.

CURRENT POSITIONS

Deputy President | African National Congress
December 2012 – present
Social Development and Community Services

PREVIOUS POSITIONS

Non-Executive Chairman | Board | PAN AFRICAN RESOURCES PLC
2009 – 2011
Non-Executive Director | ASSORE LTD
2006 – 2011
Non-Executive Director | STANDARD BANK GROUP LTD
2004
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Non-Executive Director | THE BIDVEST GROUP LTD
2004
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Non-Executive Chairman | MTN GROUP LTD
2002
ICT and Telecommunications
Non-Executive Director | Alexander Forbes Limited
2002 – 2014
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Independent Non-Executive Director | MTN GROUP LTD
2001
ICT and Telecommunications
Independent Director | SABMILLER PLC
1997
Consumer Goods, Fashion and Retail
Chairman | Johnnic Holdings Limited
1996 – 2006
Secretary General | African National Congress
1991 – 1996
Government, Public Administration and Defence
General-Secretary | National Union of Mineworkers
1982 – 1991
Mining, Energy and Natural Resources
Non Executive Director | Property Fund Managers | CAPITAL PROPERTY FUND
1982 – 1991
Property and Real Estate
Chairman | Sasria SOC Limited
1982 – 1991
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Legal Advisor | National Council of Trade Unions (NCTU)
1982 – 1991
Government, Public Administration and Defence
Vice Chairman | Commonwealth Business Council
1982 – 1991
Consulting and Project Management
Non-Executive Chairman | THE BIDVEST GROUP LTD
1982 – 1991
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Chairman | Alexander Forbes South Africa
1982 – 1991
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Non-Executive Director | LONMIN PLC
1982 – 1991
Mining, Energy and Natural Resources
Chairman | Mondi Shanduka Newsprint
1982 – 1991
Publishing, Printing and Print Media
Executive Chairman | Millennium Consolidated Investments (Pty) Limited
1982 – 1991
Building, Construction and Engineering
Chairman | Vancut Diamond Works
1982 – 1991
Mining, Energy and Natural Resources
Chairman | KreditInform (Pty) Limited
1982 – 1991
Accounting, Banking and Finance
Chairman | Black Economic Empowerment Commission
1982 – 1991
Social Development and Community Services
Deputy Chairman | Rebserve Holdings Limited
1982 – 1991
Executive Chairman | Shanduka Group
1982 – 1991
Accounting, Banking and Finance

EDUCATIONAL HISTORY

SECONDARY EDUCATION

Mphaphuli High School , Sibasa, South Africa (1971)

TERTIARY EDUCATION

University of the North
Baccalaureus Procurationis – Law
National University of Lesotho
Awarded in 2002 – Honorary Doctor of Laws
University of the North
Awarded in 2002 – Honorary Doctorate
University of South Africa
Awarded in 1981 – B. Proc. Degree – Law
University of Massachusetts, United States of America
Awarded in 1981 – Honorary Doctorate
University of Cape Town
Awarded in 1981 – Honorary Doctorate
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Awarded in 1981 – Honorary Doctorate
University of Port Elizabeth
Awarded in 1981 – Honorary Doctorate

Source:

  • Gastrow, S. (1983). Who’s Who in South African Politics: Vol 2, Johannesburg: Ravan Press.
  • http://www.gov.za/about-government/leaders/profile/987
  • http://whoswho.co.za/cyril-ramaphosa-1113
  • http://citizen.co.za/news/news-national/981959/ramaphosa-not-born-in-limpopo/
  • http://buzzsouthafrica.com/cyril-ramaphosa-facts-biography/
  • https://www.jacana.co.za/book-categories/biography-a-memoir/cyril-ramaphosa-detail

About HistoryMag

Comments are closed.

Scroll To Top