With the exit and resignation of Jacob Zuma as President of South Africa, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who also is the leader of the ANC is expected to step in. He will not seek to remain as President as he will be seeking to get his own mandate in the next general elections in 2019.
The African National Congress (ANC) as the party in power will pick a candidate to take over while the parliament will have 3o days to take a vote.
Mr Cyril Ramaphosai is however expected to win overwhelmingly in next year’s election.
Who and What Is Cyril Ramaphosa?
A piece on the BBC describes Cyril Ramaphosa as the lover fast cars. vintage wine, Strout fishing and game farming. He is one of the wealthiest politicians in South Africa with a net worth of $450 million. As the new leader of the ANC, he is the favourite to become President next year.
He was involved in trade unionist and he became the face and symbol of black capitalism after the end of apartheid and white minority rule in 1994.
He was never passionate about being a businessman; he was more passionate about being a politician and harboured the intention of being the Deputy President to Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black President. However, Madiba overlooked him and this upset him that he refused to attend the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994.
He equally refused any post in government.
Mr Ramaphosa being a lawyer became an MP ( Member of Parliament) and was the chairman of the Constituent Assembly which played an important role in drafting the post-apartheid constitution of South Africa which is the most liberal in the world.
On the world stage, he was well known having been the chief negotiator of Mr Mandela in the talks that led up to the end of apartheid in 1994. He was also one the two international arms inspectors in Northern Ireland that led to the process of peace by inspecting the IRAs secret arms dumps.
He surprised South Africans and the post-Mandela generation when he left politics to become a businessman. He was seen as the most credible politician at that time.
Going into business was not common for black South Africans where whites dominated especially for someone like Mr Cyril Ramaphosa who organized mining strikes against the apartheid government of South Africa.
While the white businesses made efforts to accommodate him, he was acquiring stakes in nearly every important sector of the South African economy; telecoms and the media, fast food (he was the owner of the South African franchise of the US Chain, Mcdonalds) and mining. He also ensured that he gave independence to the newspapers he operated.
As a businessman, Mr Ramaphosa still belongs to the ANC serving in the National Executive Committee position which gave him access to information about government as he expanded his business empire.
The accusation became serious when a police action was taken against miners and that left 34 workers dead in August 2012 at Marikana platinum mine. That was the deadliest of police action since the end of white minority rule.
He was the Director of Lonmin which was the multinational that owns the mine. Ramaphosa was accused of betraying workers he used to fight for and emails were discovered showing he called for action against the miners for “dastardly criminal acts”. These acts refer to their wildcat and violent strikes.
He was cleared by a judge of an enquiry into his involvement in the killings. However, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema portrayed Ramaphosa as a puppet of white businesses and foreigners.
“Every mine has a politician inside. They [whites] give them money every month, they call it shares. But it is a protection fee to protect whites against the workers,” Malema said.
Forbes magazine reported that Mr Ramaphosa,”stepped back from his business pursuits to avoid conflicts of interest” after becoming South Africa’s deputy president in 2014.”
Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has always had a lavish lifestyle even when he was the general-secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1980s.
His biographer Anthony Butler wrote in the Guardian and Johannesburg’s Mail, “Ramaphosa has always believed that education, the arts, vintage wine and fast cars should not be reserved for the rich or middle-class whites. As a union leader, he always flew first class.”
“He also insisted that his regional negotiators, some of whom had never been inside a hotel before, should stay in the same luxury hotels as their management counterparts.”
He is the owner of a highly-prized cattle farm and married to Tshepo Motsepe who is the sister of South Africa’s richest black businessman, Patrice Motsepe. Ramaphosa once bidding for a buffalo and her calf but after offering 19.5 million rand ($2.3m), his could not match what his rival bidder Jaco Troskie (son of South African film magnate Boet Troskie) gave; 20 million rand.
Mr Ramaphosa later revealed that his budget did not allow him to bid further.
“I spent my budget on other animals. And, like any businessman, you must know when to stop.” (South Africa’s City Press newspaper quoted him).
His participation in the auction would later haunt him in the Marikana killings as he was criticized for spending lavishly spending on animals and not paying workers a decent wage.
To save his credibility in the ANC and in the trade unions he apologized on national radio.
“I regret it because it is an excessive price in the sea of poverty. I belong to a community and it was one of those moments when I was blind-sighted.”
Despite these, he became the ANC Deputy leader in 2012 and Deputy President in 2014 and gave legitimacy to the scandal Presidency of Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa, however, was mistaken to think that Zuma will support him as President after him but rather he (Jacob Zuma) pushed for his ex-wife and former African Union Commission Chief, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
This pitched Mr Cyril Ramaphosa against President Jacob Zuma.
Now today and come 2019, Ramaphosa will seek to achieve his ambition of making South Africa, “A moment of great renewal is upon us and we should not let it go by. We should grasp it, unite our country around one goal. The goal of making South Africa great. The goal of making South Africa corruption-free… and getting rid of greedy people, corrupt people within our ranks, ” these he said on the campaign trail.