Famous South African Presidents

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite South African Presidents

 1 Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Famous As: Anti-Apartheid Activist, President of ANC and Former President of South Africa
Birthdate: July 18, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mvezo
Died: December 5, 2013
Revered as the Father of the Nation by the South Africans, Nelson Mandela was a statesman who rose to become the country’s first black head of state. He reconciled a nation divided along racial lines and dismantled the legacy of apartheid.

 2 Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma
Famous As: Fourth President of South Africa
Birthdate: April 12, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal

Jacob Zuma is a South African politician and fourth president of South Africa. During his presidency, which lasted from 2009 to 2018, Zuma was accused of racketeering and corruption which ultimately led to his resignation. Apart from being a politician, Zuma also runs the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which aims at building houses for the poor and sending children to school.

 3 Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa
Famous As: President of South Africa
Birthdate: November 17, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Soweto

Cyril Ramaphosa is a politician and the current president of South Africa. Also the president of South Africa's popular political party African National Congress (ANC), Ramaphosa played a key role during the nation's transition to democracy during which he served as ANC's chief negotiator. He also played a crucial role in ending apartheid and was considered Nelson Mandela's political heir.

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 4 F. W. de Klerk

F. W. de Klerk
Famous As: Former State President of South Africa
Birthdate: March 18, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa
F. W. de Klerk served as the State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as the Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. He was also the National Party leader from 1989 to 1997. His government helped crush the apartheid system and established universal suffrage. 

 5 Paul Kruger

Paul Kruger
Famous As: President of South Africa (1883-1902)
Birthdate: October 10, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Steynsburg, South Africa
Died: July 14, 1904

Paul Kruger was a South African politician who served as the last State President of the South African Republic. Revered by his admirers as a tragic folk hero, Kruger was one of the most influential military and political personalities in 19th-century South Africa. His life inspired the 1941 German film Ohm Krüger, in which Kruger was played by Emil Jannings.

 6 P. W. Botha

P. W. Botha
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of South Africa
Birthdate: January 12, 1916
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paul Roux, South Africa
Died: October 31, 2006
Better known as PW, Pieter Willem Botha had been the president and prime minister of South Africa. A law school drop-out, Botha grew up to unsuccessfully attempt a reconciliation between apartheid sympathizers and all-Black student and labor organizations. His refusal to testify before the TRC invited a fine.

 7 Marthinus Wessel Pretorius

Marthinus Wessel Pretorius
Famous As: President
Birthdate: September 17, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Graaff-Reinet, South Africa
Died: May 19, 1901

Apart from founding Pretoria, Marthinus Wessel Pretorius had also been the president of the South African Republic and of the Orange Free State. The son of the Great Trek leader Andries Pretorius, Marthinus attempted to unite the Boer factions but failed to do so and eventually retired.

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 8 Marthinus Theunis Steyn

Marthinus Theunis Steyn
Famous As: President of Orange Free State
Birthdate: October 2, 1857
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rietfontein, South Africa
Died: November 28, 1916

Marthinus Theunis Steyn was a South African lawyer, politician, and statesman. As a young man, he studied law at the Inner Temple in London and returned home to set up his practice. He became the sixth and last president of the independent republic the Orange Free State in 1896, a position he held till 1902.  

 9 Jacobus Johannes Fouché

Jacobus Johannes Fouché
Famous As: President of South Africa
Birthdate: June 6, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wepener, South Africa
Died: September 23, 1980

Known to his followers as Oom Jim, or Uncle Jim, Jacobus Johannes Fouché had served as the president of South Africa. A Nationalist Party MP, he had also served as the minister of defense but failed to lift the embargo on arms supplies that was imposed by the UN.

 10 Thomas François Burgers

Thomas François Burgers
Famous As: President
Birthdate: April 15, 1834
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Graaff-Reinet, South Africa
Died: December 9, 1881

As a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, Thomas François Burgers questioned the authenticity of the events in the Bible and was even suspended once. As the president of Transvaal, he was infamous for letting the British annex his kingdom. He spent his final days in poverty.