Profile: Meet South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa



Fri, 16 Feb 2018 - 02:29 GMT


Fri, 16 Feb 2018 - 02:29 GMT

Mr Ramaphosa's speech marked 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela- Reuters

Mr Ramaphosa's speech marked 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela- Reuters

CAIRO – 16 February 2018: Cyril Ramaphosa, who joined Zuma's cabinet as a deputy in 2014, was elected as South Africa's new president on Thursday. He has given his first official speech to the nation on Friday.

Jacob Zuma resigned as president of South Africa on Wednesday in a televised address to the nation, and his deputy showed to succeed him and vowed to fight corruption in a direct reference to accusations leveled at Zuma.

Zuma’s resignation over political pressures

Former President Jacob Zuma resigned following intense pressure against him from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) after having been president for nine years. Zuma took office as president in 2009.

In 2005, he was suspected of receiving a large amount of bribes over weapons trading and was also charged with women's assault charges.

Ramaphosa played a major role in the resignation of Zuma, but now he faces many challenges in correcting the political path of his country, which has been suffering due to corruption.

Ramaphosa’s political life

Cyril Ramaphosa, born in 1952 in Soweto near Johannesburg, studied law at the University of the North at Turfloop. In the 1970s, during the period of student uprisings in South Africa, he started his political activism and supported the black consciousness movement, which came to head during the June 16, 1976 massacre.

He founded the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) that was established mainly to improve the rights of black African workers in the early 1980s.

From the first half of the 1980s, he emphasized efforts of union workers and worked hard to improve the rights of black workers.

In 1987, he led the NUM, staging one of the largest and most effective industrial strikes in South Africa, which led to a three-week shutdown of the entire mining industry.

South African president Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are seen attending Cabinet Committee meetings in this government handout picture, in Cape Town, South Africa, February 7,.JPG

In 1991, Ramaphosa pursued a career in politics and was elected to the position of ANC secretary-general at the National Conference under the presidency of Nelson Mandela, who saw Ramaphosa as his “successor.”

He is an anti-apartheid activist who held the microphone for Mandela during his famous City Hall speech. In the early 1990s, Ramaphosa was a key negotiator during the nation's transition to democracy.

In 1994, Ramaphosa became a member of parliament following South Africa’s first fully democratic election. He was considered a potential deputy for Mandela.

In 1997, Ramaphosa resigned from the parliament, starting a new investment firm, called Shanduka Group. He became a multi-millionaire businessman. His wife Tshepo is the sister of fellow South African tycoon Patrice Motsepe. He bought shares of Coca-Cola and McDonald, with estimated assets of $450 million.

In 2014, Ramaphosa returned to politics and became deputy president of the Republic of South Africa.

In 2015, Forbes listed Ramaphosa among the 50 richest people in Africa, with a net worth of $450 million.

He was elected as head of the ANC in December 2017, considered the 13th president of the ANC since its founding in January, 1912.

Ramaphosa vowed to fight Zuma’s corruption

Ramaphosa has pledged to boost growth and combat corruption, while Zuma faces over 780 criminal charges, including money laundering. According to South Africa’s top court, Zuma violated the constitution following an investigation of multi-million-dollar upgrades to his private home. The investigations stated those amounts of money were paid from the state treasury.

One day before submitting his resignation, Zuma denied corruption in a speech given to the nation, alleging that he “has done nothing wrong.”

“Zuma must go to jail if found guilty after investigating corruption charges against him,” said opposition leaders, according to local media outlets.

ANC is a prestigious party chaired by Mandela, a leading figure who led to the end of apartheid (race isolation). Zuma also joined ANC at the age of 17 and was active as a fighter of the black liberation movement.

South Africa has achieved steady economic growth. Along with Russia and other countries, it has occupied a part of "BRICS" (five emerging countries), but under the rule of Zuma the unemployment rate has reached 28%, limited to young people. There is also a view that it will exceed 50%. The economic downturn put pressure on people's livelihoods, and anti-government demonstrations were an everyday occurrence.



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