SOUTH AFRICA. A lover of fast cars, vintage wine, trout fishing and game farming, South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa is one of the country’s wealthiest politicians with a net worth of about $450m. After he was elected leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December, it was obvious that he would soon achieve his long-held dream of becoming president.
Once a leading trade unionist, he became the symbol of black capitalism in South Africa after the ANC came to power at the end of white minority rule in 1994. But business was never his passion. His first love was politics and he harboured ambitions to become the deputy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president.
He was also well known on the global stage, having served as Mr Mandela’s chief negotiator in the talks that led to the end of apartheid in 1994, and was invited to be one of two international arms inspectors in Northern Ireland – playing a key role in the peace process by inspecting the IRA’s secret arms dumps.
When Mr Mandela overlooked him as deputy President and chose Thabo Mbeki, he was said to have been so upset that he refused to attend Mr Mandela’s inauguration as president.
He also declined to take a post in government.
Instead, Mr Ramaphosa – a lawyer – became an MP and chairman of the constitutional assembly, playing the lead role in drafting South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution, one of the most liberal in the world.
President and The First Lady
President Cyril Ramaphosa at a glance:
- Born in Soweto, Johannesburg, in 1952
- Detained in 1974 and 1976 for anti-apartheid activities
- Launched the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982
- Chairman of the National Reception Committee which prepared for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990
- Became an MP and chairman of constitutional assembly in 1994
- Moved full-time into business in 1997, becoming one of South Africa’s richest businessmen
- On Lonmin board during 2012 Marikana massacre
- Elected ANC leader in 2017
- 15 February 2018, becomes president
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