Cyril Ramaphosa: businessman, lawyer, politician and unionist leader

- Leadership - Jul 17, 2012

Written by....Matthew Staff


Born in 1952, in Soweto, South African Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa has made waves across varying industries during an eventful rise to the top of African business.

Combining, and being very successful in, both politics and business, Ramaphosa continues this day to be one of the leading figures on the continent. In 2004 he was voted 34thin the Top 100 Great South Africans countdown, and he remains in the top 40 on the Forbes list also.

His success has been spread across many facets during his rise to fame, but he is still best known for developing the most powerful trade union in his native South Africa. Building the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has cemented his name in the country’s history, and the significance of his hard work doesn’t end there.

Alongside Roelf Meyer, Ramaphosa was pivotal in aiding the resolution to apartheid negotiations in the early 1990s. This, of course, led to the country’s first set of democratic elections in April, 1994.

Outside of politics, Ramaphosa is also Executive Chairman of the Shanduka Group, which he founded in 2000 as an investment holding group. The group has investments in many sectors elsewhere in South Africa too, including the likes of Telecoms (SEACOM), the resources sector, the energy sector, real estate and banking.

More strings to his illustrious bow include being the Chairman of The Bidvest Group Limited and MTN, as well as being the Non-Executive joint Chairman of Mondi.

Outside of his core businesses, Ramaphosa continues to spread his experience and influence on a more global scale too. He is a member of the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board, while he also became the first Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Business council.

As of 2011, Ramaphosa was thought to have a net worth of around $275 million, but his entire worth extends far beyond monetary value, and global organisations have capitalised on his experience and knowledge over the years.

As well as being appointed as an inspector in Northern Ireland for the Irish Republican Army weapons dumps, he was also named as the Honorary Consul General for Iceland in Johannesburg.

Although Ramaphosa has extensive international power, it is his influence at home in South Africa that remains the most revered aspect of his legacy. This is epitomised by the honorary doctorates that he has received in both South Africa and the wider continent. The Universities of Natal, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town have all recognised the businessman’s efforts while the University of the North has also noted his legacy to go alongside the Law degree he studied there at the beginning of his eventful career.

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