Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa is a South African politician, businessman, activist, trade union leader, current South Africa deputy president and the deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) – both under President Jacob Zuma.

Born Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa
November 17, 1954
Soweto, Johannesburg
Gauteng, South Africa
Nationality South African
Political Party ANC
Occupation Businessmen, Politician
Trade Unionist
Wife Dr. Tshepo Motsepe
Children Four (4)
Education UNISA

5th Deputy President of South Africa

May 26, 2014 – to date
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Kgalema Motlanthe

Chairman of the NPC

June 03, 2014 – to date
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Trevor Manuel

Deputy President of the ANC

December 18, 2012 – to date
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Kgalema Motlanthe

Secretary General of the ANC

1991 – 1997
President Nelson Mandela
Preceded by Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo
Succeeded by Kgalema Motlanthe

Cyril Ramaphosa was born Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa in Soweto, Johannesburg – then Transvaal, today Gauteng province of South Africa.

He is the second of the three children of Erdmuth Ramaphosa (mother) and Samuel Ramaphosa (father), a retired policeman.

Cyril Ramaphosa was raised in Soweto where he attended Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano-Ntoane High School.

In 1971 he finished his matric at Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, then Venda Bantustan – today part of Limpopo province of South Africa.

In 1972 Ramaphosa registerd at the University of the North (today’s University of Limpopo – as of January 1, 2005) to study law. It was there that he got involved in student politics and joined South African Students Organisation (SASO), and the Black People’s Convention (BPC).

In 1974 Cyril Ramaphosa was detained in solitary confinement for eleven months under Section 6 of the Terrorism act, for organizing pro-Frelimo rallies.

In 1976 he was detained again in the wake of the unrest in Soweto and held at John Vorster square for six months under Terrorism Act.

After his release Cyril Ramaphosa became a law clerk for a firm of attorneys based in  Johannesburg and continued his with his articles through correspondence with the University of South Africa (UNISA).

In 1981 Cyril Ramaphosa obtained his Baccalaureus Procurationis (B. Proc. Degree – now undergraduate LL.B. degree, as of 2004) from the UNISA.

That year he also completed his articles and joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) as an advisor in the legal department.

Council of Unions of South Africa later became National Council of Trade Unions (NCTU) as a result of a merger of itself and the Azanian Confederation of Trade Unions (AZACTU).

In 1982 CUSA requested that Cyril Ramaphosa start a union for mineworkers, he obliged, that year a new union was launched and was named the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Upon it’s formation he became NUM’s first secretary and was conference organizer in the preparations leading to the formations of the Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu).

Cyril Ramaphosa was arrested in Lebowa Bantustan (now part of Limpopo province of South Africa, on the charge of organizing or planning to take part in a meeting in Namakgale which was banned by the local magistrate.




Activism in the twilight of Apartheid South Africa

In 1985 the National Union of Mineworkers (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 (NP) apartheid government of P. W. Botha, Cyril Ramaphosa took a leading role in what became known as the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).

In December 1985 Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a keynote address at Cosatu’s launch rally in Durban.

In March 1986 he was part of Cosatu’s delegation which met the African National Congress in Lusaka, Zambia.

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected NUM’s first General Secretary, he remained in that position until 1991 when he was elected Secretary General of the ANC. He is credited for it’s early tremendous growth.

In 1992, ten years after the union was founded in 1982, it had grown from 6000 members to 300 000 giving it control of nearly half of the total black workforce in the South African mining industry.

As General Secretary, Ramaphosa, 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.

Nelson-Mandela-and -WinnieIn December 1988 Cyril Ramaphosa and other prominent members of the Soweto community met the Mayor of Soweto to discuss the rent boycott crisis.

In January 1990 he accompanied released ANC political prisoners to Lusaka, Zambia. Cyril Ramaphosa also served as chairman of the National Reception committee, which co-ordinated arrangements for the release of Nelson Mandela and subsequent welcome rallies in South Africa, and became a member of the international Mandela Reception committee.

In July 1991 Cyril Ramaphosa was elected General-Secretary of the ANC in a conference held in Durban. In October that year he was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University in the United States of America.

On February 11, 1990 when Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Prison holding Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s hand in front of amassed crowds and press, Cyril Ramaphosa was on the National Reception Committee. He can be seen on the iconic picture of Nelson Mandela (holding Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s hand) on the extreme left of the picture – out front (third from Nelson Mandela) wearing a black suit.

Following his election as Secretary General of the ANC in 1991 he became head of the negotiation team of the ANC in negotiating the end of apartheid with the National Party government.

After the 1994 General Election, Cyril Ramaphosa became a member of parliament.

On May 24, 1994 he was elected the chairperson of parliament’s Constitutional Assembly and played a central role in the government of national unity.

In January 1997 he resigned from his political positions after he lost race to become President of the ANC and South Africa to Thabo Mbeki.

Cyril Ramaphosa came in first place in the 1997 election to the ANC’s National Executive Committee.



Cyril Ramaphosa moved to the private sector, where he became a director of New Africa Investments Limited. He is executive chairman of Shanduka Group, a company he founded.

He is also chairman of The Bidvest Group Limited, MTN and non-executive director of Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes and Standard Bank

In March 2007 Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed Non-Executive joint Chairman of Mondi, a leading international paper and packaging group, when the company demerged from Anglo American plc.

Cyril Ramaphosa was also on the board of SAB Miller plc until July 2013 when he retired from it. He is a member of the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board as well as the Unilever Africa Advisory Council.

Cyril Ramaphosa was also the first deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council.

Forbes estimates Ramaphosa wealth to be at $675 million, making him one of South Africa’s richest people.


Return to Politics

Ahead of the then much anticipated 2007 Polokwane Elective Conference of the ANC, the media speculated that he joining the race for the presidency of the ANC and later the presidency of South Africa in the 2009 General Election.

Cyril Ramaphosa dismissed the speculations citing that he was not interested in the presidency.

On September 2, 2007 The Sunday Times reported that he was in the election race, but by that evening Cyril Ramaphosa had released a statement once again holding back on any commitment.

In December 2007 at the Polokwane Elective Conference of the ANC Jacob Zuma would challenge Thabo Mbeki who was running for third term of the the ANC presidency – and Jacob Zuma became President of the ANC while Mbeki would eventually be recalled from his position as President of South Africa after the ANC lost faith in him, Kgalema Motlanthe, who was Jacob Zuma’s deputy at the time, was deployed by the ANC to complete Thabo Mbeki’s term.

Cyril Ramaphosa was again elected to the ANC National Executive Committee, this time in 30th place with 1,910 votes.

On May 20, 2012 ahead of the the 2012 Mangaung Elective Conference of the ANC, Derek Hanekom asked Cyril 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”. Cyril Ramaphosa responded by saying “You can’t read anything [into what he said]. He was joking”.

On December 17, 2012 Cyril Ramaphosa officially became a candidate for the Deputy Presidency of the ANC when then deputy president of the ANC and South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe challenged Jacob Zuma for the presidency of the ANC.

On December 18, 2012 Cyril Ramaphosa was elected deputy president of the ANC beating challengers Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale.

On May 25, 2014 following the 2014 General Election and ANC’s victory, Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed Deputy President of South Africa by President Jacob Zuma replacing Kgalema Motlanthe and sworn into office by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on May 26, 2014.

After his appointment he was made Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly in terms of section 91(4) of the Constitution.

On June 3, 2014 President Jacob Zuma announced that Cyril Ramaphosa would be appointed as Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC), with Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Jeff Radebe serving as the Commission’s deputy Chairman.

In July 2014 Cyril Ramaphosa called for unity in the country, following calls by Julius Malema to scrap the singing of the Afrikaans portion of the national anthem. Cyril 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”.


International Commitments

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

In the wake of the December 2007 disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki and the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis which followed, Cyril Ramaphosa was unanimously chosen by the mediation team headed by Kofi Annan to be the chief mediator in charge of leading long-term talks.

Mwai Kibaki’s government expressed dissatisfaction with the choice of Cyril Ramaphosa, saying that he had business links with Kibaki’s opponent Raila Odinga.

On February 4, 2008 Kofi Annan accepted Cyril Ramaphosa’s withdrawal from the role of chief mediator.

Cyril Ramaphosa later stated that Raila 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 process.



In October 1987 Cyril Ramaphosa received  the Olof Palme prize in Stockholm, Sweden.

In October 1991 he was a visiting Law Professor at Stanford University.

In 2004 Cyril Ramaphosa was voted 34th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

In 2007 he was included Time 100 list of 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.

Cyril Ramaphosa has also 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 among others.



On August 16, 2012 the single most lethal use of force by South African police against civilians since the end of the apartheid era occurred when the South African Police Service (SAPS) elite special unit opened fire on a group of striking mine workers (mostly employees of Lonmin) killing 34 people and wounding a further 78 in what would later be dubbed The Marikana Massacre by the media.

During The Farlam Commission of Inquiry sanctioned by President Jacob Zuma headed by retired Judge Ian Farlam, it also emerged that Lonmin management solicited Lonmin shareholder and ANC heavyweight, Cyril Ramaphosa, to coordinate “concomitant action” against “criminal”  striking mine workers and is seen by many as therefore being responsible for the massacre

On August 11, 2014 Cyril Ramaphosa appeared for the first time before The Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Centurion, Gauteng.