Ramaphosa emerges victorious


Cyril Ramaphosa

JOHANNESBURG - Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged victorious at the ANC&39;s 54th elective conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa won the hotly contested succession race and is the new president of the governing party.


After failing to clinch the ANC nomination to succeed president Nelson Mandela in 1999, Ramaphosa swopped his union roots for a lucrative foray into business that made him one of the wealthiest people in Africa.

His failure came as a surprise to many as he was seen as Mandela&39;s preferred candidate, with Mandela describing Ramaphosa as one of the most gifted leaders of the "new generation".

In 1982, Ramaphosa founded the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which grew to 300,000 members and led massive mine strikes in 1987 that shook the foundations of white rule. Ramaphosa played a key role in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the United Democratic Front (UDF)’s formation of the Mass Democratic Movement (NUM was the largest union in Cosatu).

READ: Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa: Two leaders who sacrificed impeccable legacies

Ramaphosa won global prominence as the ANC&39;s lead negotiator in 1993, with his contribution seen as one factor in the success of the talks and the resulting peaceful democratic handover.

He then led the group that drew up the country&39;s world-renowned new constitution.

Ramaphosa worked closely with former apartheid-era Minister of Defence Roelf Meyer in getting the ANC and then-ruling National Party to the negotiation table.

LISTEN: Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer talk to Melanie Verwoerd

But, while Ramaphosa might have his roots in labour, any union support he might have enjoyed suffered a severe blow during the Marikana tragedy in 2012.

Ramaphosa was a non-executive director at Lonmin at the time of the massacre. Shortly before the worst police killing since the end of apartheid  Ramaphosa had called for a crackdown on striking mineworkers, whom he accused of "dastardly criminal" behaviour.

During his business career, Ramaphosa held stakes in McDonald&39;s and Coca-Cola and made millions in deals that required investors to partner with black shareholders.

He became one of the richest men on the continent, reaching number 42 on Forbes&39; list of Africa&39;s wealthiest people in 2015, with a net worth of $450-million.

READ: Ramaphosa declares more than R76 million

When Ramaphosa bid on a R20-million buffalo in 2012, he was criticised for being extravagant in a country suffering from widespread poverty.

Two years later, he was more active than ever in the game-breeding industry, raking in over R25-million for three of his white-flanked impala sold at an auction in 2014.

WATCH: Why does Ramaphosa love buffaloes ?

Ramaphosa made a return to politics in 2012 when he was elected as the ANC&39;s second in command as part of the Jacob Zuma slate at the Mangaung conference.

He relinquished his private business interests when he became deputy president after the 2014 general elections. 

The question now is whether South Africa&39;s future president can make good on his promises to grow the economy and create jobs.