Cyril Ramaphosa: ‘Transformation of economy non-negotiable’

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 20: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 30th anniversary celebration of The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville Campus on October 20, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. The celebrations will take the form of a lecture on the history of the union dating back to 1987 when the giant public sector union was founded. (Photo by Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

NAME: Cyril Ramaphosa

AGE: 64

IN GOVERNMENT: Cyril Ramaphosa became deputy president after his election to the position in the ANC in 2012. At the time he was wooed by President Jacob Zuma’s camp to give the slate “credibility” when then ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe contested Zuma for the top post.

Before that he was the chair of the national planning commission that produced the National Development Plan, the country’s blue print for growth towards 2030.

UPSIDE: He founded one of the biggest and most powerful trade unions in the country – the National Union of Mineworkers.

He is credited as skilful negotiator, playing a leading role as an ANC negotiator at Codesa, which charted the way from apartheid to democracy.

After the first democratic elections in 1994, he became a Member of Parliament, was elected chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly and played a key role in drafting the country’s constitution, revered the world over.

Ramaphosa led the negotiations for a minimum wage – the first for South Africa to be implemented 1 May 2018. Of all the presidential candidates, he is the only to have held the two most senior positions in the ANC’s top 6 – as secretary general and now deputy president.

Investors, markets and rating agencies would react positively to his election. This is based on their view that he understands the economy. He has support from the Left wing of the ANC: SACP and Cosatu.

DOWNSIDE: His role in the Marikana killings. Ramaphosa was non- executive director of Lonmin and wrote letters to ministers asking for “concomitant action” in the illegal strike by demanding salary increases. He has since apologised, but miners have disregarded his apology.

After losing to Thabo Mbeki to take over from President Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa joined the business world to build a net worth of R7.4 billion mostly through the Shanduka group. His detractors have used his roles as chair and non-executive director in various private entities to describe him as a “lover” of white monopoly capital seen to be against the ANC’s call for radical economic transformation.

Others have said leaving “active” politics was seen as him “sulking” after losing to Mbeki.

In 2012 he had to apologise for spending close to R20 million on buffalos “amid a sea of poverty”.

Ramaphosa is part of Zuma’s Cabinet and cannot completely avoid being seen as complicit in some of the decisions and he has been “silent” about over the years, only speaking out against Cabinet reshuffles and state capture now as he campaigns to take over from him.

ON RET: “I would say those who are dismissing this term, sit down, listen, smell the coffee… realise that the transformation of our economy is non-negotiable,” Ramaphosa said.

He has proposed a “new deal” to accelerate radical transformation with an ambitious plan to grow the country’s economy by up to 3% by 2023 and create a million jobs in the next five years.

ON STATE CAPTURE: This has been the mantra of his campaign. He wants a judicial commission of inquiry, however he has never mentioned the controversial Gupta family or President Jacob Zuma by name during his campaign trail.

“I support, there should be a judicial commission of inquiry. It is possibly the only process that will be able to get to the bottom of these allegations and determine the truthfulness or lack thereof,” he said.

SUPPORT BASE: Ramaphosa is expected to get pockets of support across the country as the ANC branches are divided. He has already been nominated by Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape. He is expected to also get majority support from Limpopo.

He has been backed by trade union Cosatu, who previously campaigned for Zuma in 2007 and 2012.

SLATE: It has changed throughout the course of the election campaign. His challenge is that he needs a woman as deputy president to counter his rival Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign mantra that “it’s time for a woman to lead”.

He faced criticism for announcing his “running mates”, an unprecedented move as per tradition the ANC presidential contenders leave it to their lieutenants to “guide the branches”.

Deputy President: Naledi Pandor

Secretary general: Senzo Mchunu

Treasurer general: Paul Mashatile

National Chairperson: Gwede Mantashe

Deputy secretary general: Zingiswa Losi