Cyril Ramaphosa Biography

Cyril Ramaphosa is the fifth and present post-apartheid President of South Africa. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Quick Facts

Birthday: November 17, 1952

Nationality: South African

Famous: Presidents Political Leaders

Also Known As: Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa

Sun Sign: Scorpio

Age: 65 Years

Born in: Soweto

Famous as: President of South Africa

Spouse/Ex-: Tshepo Motsepe, Nomazizi Mtshotshisa.

father: Samuel Ramaphosa

mother: Erdmuth

Founder/Co-Founder: National Union of Mineworkers

More Facts

education: University of South Africa

awards: Olof Palme Prize

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Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is the fifth and present post-apartheid President of South Africa. Following the resignation of his predecessor Jacob Zuma and a subsequent vote of the National Assembly, he took office on February 15, 2018. Widely regarded as a skilful strategist and negotiator, he had been picked as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) at the ANC National Conference in Nasrec, South of Johannesburg in December 2017 as well as the Chairman of the National Planning Commission. He had previously served as the ANC's Chief Negotiator during South Africa's transition to democracy. He also founded the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and was instrumental in bringing about a non-violent end to apartheid. Ramaphosa is also a highly successful businessman with an estimated net worth of over $675 million and formerly owned a considerable amount of shares in companies such as McDonald’s South Africa and chaired the board of directors at MTN Group. While he has never been officially indicted for any crime, he had faced several serious controversies in his career, including the MTN Irancell scandal and the Marikana Massacre.

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Cyril Ramaphosa
Childhood & Early Life
  • Born on November 17, 1952, in Soweto, Johannesburg, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is the son of Erdmuth and Samuel Ramaphosa. His father was a retired policeman while his mother was a homemaker. Ramaphosa has a brother named Douglas. He grew up in the impoverished township of Soweto.
  • He studied at the Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano Ntoane High School and matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Venda in 1971. He then enrolled at the University of the North (Turfloop) in 1972 to study law.
  • While still a university student, Ramaphosa joined active politics and became a member of the South African Students Organization (SASO) and the Black People's Convention (BPC). As a result, he was put in solitary confinement for 11 months in 1974 under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act due to his involvement in organizing pro-Frelimo rallies. The authorities captured him a second time in 1976 under the Terrorism Act after an unrest in his native town. He was detained for the next six months.
  • Following his release, he began to work as a law clerk for a Johannesburg firm of attorneys and simultaneously carried on his legal studies through correspondence from the University of South Africa (UNISA), receiving his B. Proc. Degree in 1981.
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Political Career
  • After graduating from law school, Cyril Ramaphosa immediately became a member of the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) as an advisor in the legal department. In 1982, prompted by his seniors, he set up the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). *Serving as the new organization’s first secretary, he organized conferences that ultimately led to the establishment of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU). He was the keynote speaker at COSATU’s launch rally in Durban in December 1985.
  • He was eventually chosen as the general secretary of the union and served in that position till June 1991. Under his leadership, the union saw exponential growth, expanding from 6,000 members in 1982 to 300,000 in 1992.
  • By 1990, he had emerged as one of the leading figures of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. He joined the released ANC political prisoners in their journey to Lusaka, Zambia. He was appointed the chairman of the National Reception Committee, which was formed to organize the release of Nelson Mandela and the welcome rallies that followed after. He was also a member of the international Mandela Reception Committee.
  • In July 1991, he emerged as the new General-Secretary of ANC, after winning an election in a conference in Durban. Ramaphosa led a selected group of ANC members to negotiate the end of apartheid with the National Party government.
  • In 1994, the first fully democratic election in South Africa’s history was conducted and Ramaphosa was elected as a member of the parliament. Nelson Mandela was made the President of South Africa the same year.
  • Ramaphosa later chaired the parliament’s Constitutional Assembly and played a crucial role in the government of national unity.
  • Despite not being a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Ramaphosa has maintained over the years that he is a socialist. After Nelson Mandela declined a second term, Ramaphosa contested in the South African presidential election but lost to Thabo Mbeki. Following the defeat, Ramaphosa resigned from all of his political positions and entered the private sector, where he was employed as a director of New Africa Investments Limited.
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  • After a lot of speculations, he returned to national politics to run for the office of deputy president in December 2012. On 18 December, he was elected as the Deputy President of the ANC with 3,018 votes. He became the Deputy President of South Africa on May 25, 2014. He was appointed by the then-President Jacob Zuma and sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
  • Soon the president appointed him the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly in terms of section 91(4) of the Constitution and the Chairman of the National Planning Commission.
  • Ramaphosa was elected the President of ANC on September 18, 2017, after winning a close race against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of President Zuma. On February 15, 2018, Ramaphosa became the fifth and current President of South Africa following Zuma’s resignation from the office.
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Business Career
  • Cyril Ramaphosa is one of the most successful businesspersons in South Africa, with Forbes estimating his wealth at $675 million. He has made investments in the resources sector, energy sector, real estate, banking, insurance, and telecom (SEACOM).
  • In 2001, he founded Shanduka Group, an investment holding company. He also served as the chairman of The Bidvest Group Limited and MTN and as non-executive director of Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes, and Standard Bank, to name a few. In 2011, he signed a 20-year master franchise agreement to run 145 McDonald's restaurants in South Africa.
  • Following the announcement of his participation in the 2012 general election, Ramaphosa stepped down from all the positions he previously held in the private sector.
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Other Ventures
  • Ramaphosa is the owner of the Ntaba Nyoni farm in Mpumalanga, where, as of August 2017, he had about 100 Ankole breeding cows. In 2017, he co-authored the book ‘Cattle of the Ages, Stories and Portraits of the Ankole Cattle of Southern Africa’.
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  • He had also published the books ‘Organising on the Mines’ in 1985 and ‘Constitutional Law: Analysis and Cases’ in 2002. The latter was co-written by Ziyad Motala.
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Controversies & Scandals
  • During his tenure as the chairperson of the MTN Group, a former MTN employee named Chris Kilowan accused the company of bribing government officials in Iran. This incident was dubbed by the media as the MTN Irancell scandal.
  • A commission chaired by retired British judge Lord Hoffmann was set up to investigate this scandal. The commission found MTN “not guilty” of any of the charges and concluded that Kilowan was a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist.
  • On August 16, 2012, the police fired shots at a gathering of striking Lonmin workers on a "koppie" (hilltop) near Nkaneng shack settlement in Marikana. Thirty-four miners were killed in the shooting and seventy-eight others were injured. It was later revealed that most of the victims were shot in the back and far from the police line. Dubbed as the “Marikana Massacre” by the media, it was the single most lethal act of institutional violence since the end of the apartheid era and caused national outrage.
  • It was revealed later that Ramaphosa, who was a Lonmin shareholder, had been solicited by the company’s management to organize "concomitant action" against "criminal" protesters. As a result, many saw him as the person responsible for the massacre. However, it was ultimately concluded that as the deaths had already occurred, his intervention was not the reason for the increased police presence on site.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Cyril Ramaphosa was awarded the Olof Palme prize in Stockholm in October 1987.
  • He was named an Honorary Actuary by the Actuarial Society of South Africa for his remarkable work in the development of actuarial professionals from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
  • He has been given honorary degrees by many renowned universities, including 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 Boston and the University of Pennsylvania.
  • In October 1991, he began teaching law as a visiting professor in Stanford University, USA.
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Personal Life
  • Cyril Ramaphosa has been married two times. His first wife was businesswoman Nomazizi Mtshotshisa. The couple divorced in 2008. He later married Dr Tshepo Motsepe, the sister of mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe. They have four children together. In 2017, there were allegations of extra-marital affairs leveled against him, but he vehemently denied them, claiming them to be politically motivated.
  • He established the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation in 2004. The organization’s mission is to foster the development of an inclusive society that is empowered.
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Trivia
  • Ramaphosa was appointed the first deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Cyril Ramaphosa Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/cyril-ramaphosa-11821.php
Last Updated
- February 17, 2018

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