Cyril Wily Matemela Ramaphosa is a titanic politician in South Africa, a labour Aristocrat, businessman and a very wealthy person amongst the people of the country. He was born in Soweto, Johannesburg on November 17, 1952. He attended the Universities of Limpopo, South Africa and studied law at the local Bantustan University, the University of the North (Turfloop), where in some years later became the theatre of violent clashes between the black African students and the apartheid state of South Africa. He was a committed student union activist until he became the Chairman of the local branch of the two black consciousness organisations, the South African Student’s organisation and the student Christian Movement in 1974.
In December 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the 14th President of the African National Congress (ANC). He was elected the party’s Deputy President in 2012. In order to justify his quick ascendancy to political prominence, it is relevant to further delve into his political profile. Cyril was also the Chairman of the National Development Plan, the country’s establishment which defined the blueprint for growth towards 2030. He was the Secretary General of the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers.
Cyril Ramaphosa is credited to be a skilful negotiator who played a leading role as an ANC negotiator at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) who steered the political ship of the country from apartheid to democracy, and the sovereignty of the South African people, and especially the black race.
In 1994, he become a duly elected member of Parliament and Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly. He played a key role in drafting the country’s constitution. Ramaphosa also led the negotiations for a minimum wage. His failure to become Nelson Mandela’s deputy in 1994, was a mighty blow. He was however persuaded by Mandela to remain calm. Consequently, Ramaphosa went into business, which ranged from mining to fast foods. He floated a large investment Holding Company, Shanduka. The impressive success of the group confirmed his reputation as a skilled dealmaker and negotiator.
The period of his business venture spanned for a period of 20 years, during these years Cyril established deep links in the private sector in South Africa. The marvellous achievement set him at odds with sections of the members of the ANC who had the strong opinion that the post-South African apartheid regime delivered political power but not economic freedom. The opinions have become louder under President Jacob Zuma’s tenure with calls for radical economic transformation and action to tackle white monopoly capital. It is however the duty of Cyril to cope with these demands by implementing an all-inclusive social compact.
It is time to acknowledge the fact that Cyril Wily Matemela Ramaphosa as the leader and President of the ANC, shall all things being equal, automatically become the President of the Republic of South Africa. This is in view of the fact that there is not a single strong opposition political party in the country between now and 2019. It will then be time for him to exercise leadership, power, authority and influence, and to take tough decisions. The question is; will he be able to summon enough political will to cope with these teething issues of state and especially on how to wipe-out the President Jacob Zuma’s corruption legacies?
Subsequent development tended to suggest that Ramaphosa will either call the shots or that Jacob, as an ex-President in 2019 would bend over to lobby and win favour at Luthuli House, the seat power. Even to deliver this after election victory broadcast as leader of the ANC, it took a period of five clear days before Cyril was able to deliver it. It was an indication that some rough edges needed to be cleared, perhaps, by Jacob Zuma himself. Zuma’s shambolic nine-year rule as President is drawing to an ignominious end. The previous day, the ANC’s 86 strong National Executive Council told Zuma to resign his presidential post. In spite of this interim sack of the incumbent President, he is yet to comply in accordance with the ANC’s constitution.
To expect too much from Ramaphosa is to expect more than expected because it is unlikely that he will veer completely far from the traditional path of the ANC’s economic policy. It might be a herculean task for the new leader to confront this traditional blueprint. Ramaphosa is likely to emphasize stability in government and the ANC in term of economic rather than pursue radical interventions. It has been alleged by political commentators that parts of the state have been taken over by corrupt civil servants and some private sector interest, high levels of unemployment and increasingly fractions public debates.
How effective will Ramaphosa be in the running of the affairs of the country? Although he has been the Deputy President of the ANC and of the country for five years, a school of thought is of the view that his influence has been minimal and that he has not been able to stamp his leadership feet on the party or the country. Perhaps, his present leadership status of the party and his envisaged victory in 2019, will make a difference.
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