Cyril Ramaphosa: Mandela's chosen one gets his turn in office

It was the moment Cyril Ramaphosa wanted in 1999. The former anti-apartheid activist was Nelson Mandela's favorite to...

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 12:37 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 12:37 PM

It was the moment Cyril Ramaphosa wanted in 1999. The former anti-apartheid activist was Nelson Mandela's favorite to succeed him as leader of the African National Congress and South African president, but the party overlooked him in a crushing blow to his political ambitions.

Nineteen years later, Ramaphosa finally has his chance -- but under very different circumstances.

He will take the reins from the scandal-hit Jacob Zuma, who resigned as President in disgrace on Wednesday after the ANC abandoned him over an astounding number of corruption allegations against him, deciding he could not possibly take the party through the 2019 general elections.

Following the Mandela years, Ramaphosa would have been tasked with taking a much-loved national hero's vision forward. Instead he must revive the national hero's legacy and save his party from ruin.

The ANC took a battering in local elections in 2016, mired in scandal, corruption and weak governance, and it hopes that in Ramaphosa, they have a leader to change the narrative for the 2019 vote.

Overlooked

Ramaphosa was Mandela's close aide and the ANC's chief negotiator in historic talks that brought the end of apartheid.

Despite Mandela's faith in him, he overlooked Ramaphosa and chose F.W. de Klerk as his first deputy in his historic 1994 election win.

Ramaphosa skipped Mandela's inauguration and didn't take a role in government, serving as an MP and chair of the constitutional assembly. He led the country in drafting its post-apartheid constitution.

At the end of his reign, Mandela wanted Ramaphosa to take over as ANC leader, but when the party chose Thabo Mbeki over him, Ramaphosa left and concentrated on his business efforts, building an empire in the '90s and 2000s', growing his popularity among South Africans outside the political sphere in the meantime.

In 2015, Forbes valued his net worth at $450 million, making him one of Africa's richest people. It was an enormous rise for a man who, like many of South Africa's anti-apartheid activists, came from humble beginnings. He was born in Johannesburg's Soweto township in 1952 to a retired police officer father and worked his way up from being a law student to a prominent public figure and a wealthy businessman.

His pedigree as an activist alongside Mandela and a trade unionist for miners made him highly likeable in a country that still struggles with stark inequality and a floundering economy.

Ramaphosa returned to the ANC in 2012 and dethroned Zuma as party leader in December last year, in what was the clear beginning of Zuma's demise.

Restoring Mandela's legacy

Ramaphosa has made cleaning up the ANC his top priority and told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in January that he wanted to return the party to Mandela's values of honesty, truth and integrity.

"My campaign to become leader of the ANC was pivoted on two things: Renewing the ANC and taking back to the values the were espoused and subscribed to by Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo and many other leaders," he said.

He also swore "to go deep into the roots of this corruption" and address historic allegations, sending a warning to Zuma that his resignation will not necessarily mean immunity.

He told CNN he would set up commission of inquiry to target the individuals and companies that "have captured our state institutions and were just stealing money left, right and center."

A police raid Wednesday on the home of the wealthy Gupta brothers over a corruption case linked to Zuma bore the hallmarks of Ramaphosa's pledge. Zuma and the Guptas deny allegations in the case, which involved benefits to assist poor black farmers.

Uphill battle

But Ramaphosa has had his own moments of scandal. He came under fire over dozens of deaths in shootings at a South African platinum mine in 2012. Ramaphosa at the time sat on the board of London-based Lonmin, the company that operated the Marikana site, in a particularly stinging case for a figure who rose to fame as a prominent union leader for miners.

Forty-four people were reported killed, including 34 miners, in two incidents at the mine. Seventy-eight others were injured.

A judicial report criticized the company, unions and the South African police over the deaths. Ramaphosa later left the board.

He also faces more immediate challenges. ANC infighting has not disappeared. Ramaphosa won the party leadership by a very narrow margin, and old foes and analysts are still openly critical of him.

Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the South African Institute for International Affairs and brother of former president Thabo Mbeki, said Ramaphosa was still part of the old guard that has sunk the ANC.

"(He) was part of the policies that have led to the decline of South Africa, so why do people think all of a sudden he's got some hidden secrets that he is going to put in place?" Moeletsi Mbeki said.

Can a new president halt South Africa's decline?

But there is optimism that Ramaphosa will help bring prosperity to the country.

Since Ramaphosa's appointment as president of the ANC in December, the South African rand has gained 10% against the US dollar.

Rebooting the economy, however, won't be an easy task. Under Zuma, it sank into recession twice -- in 2009 and 2017 -- falling behind its emerging market peers. GDP growth has averaged less than 2% since 2009, one of the weakest rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 39133

Reported Deaths: 1514
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12597787
Ramsey4963229
Dakota242192
Stearns241419
Anoka2266109
Nobles16726
Olmsted114715
Washington113740
Mower9602
Rice8488
Scott7624
Clay59138
Kandiyohi5781
Blue Earth4942
Wright4835
Todd4012
Carver3951
Lyon3272
Sherburne3255
Freeborn2970
Watonwan2380
Steele2371
Benton2203
St. Louis19615
Nicollet17312
Martin1715
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12915
Crow Wing10812
Le Sueur1081
Pine1070
Chisago1021
Otter Tail1001
McLeod920
Dodge880
Carlton870
Unassigned8537
Polk822
Chippewa791
Isanti750
Waseca710
Douglas650
Murray650
Itasca6412
Meeker611
Morrison611
Faribault600
Pipestone592
Becker570
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington520
Renville362
Beltrami340
Brown342
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Rock310
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston270
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood190
Koochiching181
Grant170
Roseau170
Cass162
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Kanabec151
Wadena150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln100
Mahnomen101
Clearwater90
Hubbard80
Lake60
Stevens50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32064

Reported Deaths: 731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6739181
Woodbury326044
Black Hawk232358
Buena Vista171911
Johnson13408
Linn130482
Dallas129129
Marshall106019
Scott84510
Story8063
Pottawattamie74512
Dubuque74222
Wapello70830
Crawford6783
Muscatine64944
Sioux4810
Tama46829
Wright3851
Louisa36313
Jasper32517
Plymouth3245
Warren2911
Dickinson2663
Webster2484
Washington2459
Cerro Gordo1901
Hamilton1891
Boone1501
Clay1370
Allamakee1334
Clarke1333
Mahaska11717
Shelby1170
Clinton1131
Poweshiek1078
Carroll991
Pocahontas981
Bremer957
Franklin950
Des Moines912
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar851
Hardin810
Taylor800
Monona770
Cherokee761
Floyd732
Marion710
Benton681
Guthrie684
Jones640
Sac640
Jefferson620
Osceola620
Buchanan601
Butler592
Hancock551
Humboldt551
Calhoun542
Harrison540
Lee542
Iowa530
Delaware511
Monroe517
Fayette500
Madison482
Lyon450
Clayton443
Davis411
Mitchell410
Palo Alto410
Grundy400
Mills390
Winneshiek390
Kossuth360
Howard340
Jackson340
Union340
Lucas314
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Winnebago290
Cass240
Ida230
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Page200
Worth200
Adair160
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Ringgold150
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont80
Rochester
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 86°
Mason City
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Austin
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 91°
Charles City
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 89°
Heat Advisory in effect until 7pm
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/8

Image

Bishop writes to ask for clemency for Dustin Honken

Image

Catch a ride to stay cool

Image

Free masks in Rochester

Image

Boys & Girls Club back open

Image

Rochester Elementary School releases plans

Image

Working in the heat

Image

Potential job cuts for Austin city employees

Image

Free memory screenings being offered during pandemic

Image

1K Mile March: Alabama to Minneapolis

Community Events