Cyril  Matamela Ramaphosa was born in Johannesburg, Transvaal (now Gauteng) on 17 November 1952. He is the second of the three children of Erdmuth and Samuel Ramaphosa, a retired policeman. He grew up in the South Western Native Township (Soweto), attending a local primary school and Sekano-Ntoane High School, Soweto. In 1971 he matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Limpopo. In 1972 he registered at the University of the North (Turfloop) for a BProc degree. He became involved in students politics and joined the South African Students Organization (SASO) in 1972. In 1974 he served as the chairman of the branch. In the same year, he was chairman of the Student Christian Movement. After the pro-Frelimo rally at the University in 1974, Ramaphosa was detained for 11 months under section 6 of the Terrorism Act. On his release he joined the Black People’ Convention (BPC), holding posts on various committees. He obtained articles with a Johannesburg firm of attorneys while working for BPC.

In June 1976, following the unrest in Soweto, Ramaphosa was again detained under Terrorism Act for six months and this time held at John Vorster square. On his release he continued with his articles and completed his Bproc degree through correspondence with the University of South Africa (Unisa) in 1981. He completed his articles in the same year, and joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (Cusa) as an advisor in the legal department.

In August 1982, Cusa resolved to form National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and in December Ramaphosa became its first secretary. Ramaphosa was conference organiser in the preparations leading to the formations of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU). He delivered a keynote address at Cosatu’s launch rally in Durban in December 1985. In march 1986 he was part of COSATU’s delegation which met the African National Congress (ANC) in Lusaka, Zambia. In July 1986, after the declaration of the state of emergency, Ramaphosa went into hiding after security police swoops on the homes and offices of the political activists. He traveled to United Kingdom and appeared with NUM president, James Motlatsi, at a conference of the British national union Mineworkers. Ramaphosa was refused a passport to travel to Britain in September 1987, but when he became the recipient of the Olaf Palme prize, was permitted to travel to Stockholm to receive it.

In December 1988, Ramaphosa and other prominent members of the Soweto community met Soweto’s Mayor to discuss the rent boycott crisis. In January 1990, Ramaphosa accompanied released ANC political prisoners to Lusaka, Zambia. Ramaphosa served as chairman of the National Reception committee, which co-ordinated arrangements for the release of Nelson Mandela and subsequent welcome rallies within South Africa, and also became a member of the international Mandela Reception committee. He was elected General-Secretary of the ANC in a conference held in Durban in July 1991. Ramaphosa was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University in the United States of America in October 1991. In his capacity as a General-Secretary he became the head of the negotiations commissions of the ANC and participated in the Covention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). Ramaphosa was present at the ANC’s march on Bisho on 7 September 1992, when Ciskei troops fired on the crowd, killing 24 and wounding 2000. In May 1994 he was elected chairperson of the New Constitutional Assembly. A position he resigned in May 1996 together with that of General-Secretary of the ANC.

Ramaphosa is the Executive Chairman of Millennium Consolidated Investment (MCI) and non-executive Chairman of Johnnic Holdings, MTN Group Limited and SASRIA. He is the past Chairman of the Black Economic Empowerment Commission. His directorships include South African Breweries, First Rand Limited, Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes and Medscheme Limited. In August 2012, Lomnin, a company that Ramaphosa was a non-executive board member was dealing with an unprotected strike. The strike eventually climaxed with the Marikana Massacre that left 34 mineworkers dead at the hands of the police. In December of the same year he was elected as ANC deputy president. On 3 February 2013 he resigned from his position at Lomnim. In 2015, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry cleared Ramaphosa of any responsibility. [1]

President Jacob Zuma appointed Ramaphosa as the Deputy President of the State in 2014 after he was elected Deputy President of ANC in 2012. As a result of this, Ramaphosa resigned from a number of positions; most notably as chairman of the Shanduka Group investment group which he started in 1997. [2] Ramaphosa was then appointed by the President to the position of Special Envoy to South Sudan to act as a mediator in the conflict between different factions in South Sudan. [3] As of 2017, Ramaphosa continues to act in this capacity despite allegations by South Sudanese rebels that he had been receiving bribes. [4]

In September 2017, Ramaphosa headed the unsuccesful South African bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in London. [5]

On 18 December 2017 he was elected to the position of president of the ANC narrowlingly edging out Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Ramaphosa is married to Dr. Tshepo Motsepe and they have four children.He became President following the resignation of Jacob Zuma. Previously an anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader and businessman, Ramaphosa served as the Deputy President of South Africa from 2014 to 2018.Ramaphosa was elected unopposed as President of South Africa by the National Assembly on 15 February 2018. Ramaphosa took his oath of office in the presidential guesthouse, Tuynhuys, by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.


[1] David Smith, ‘South African deputy president cleared over Marikana massacre’,

[2] ‘Cyril Ramaphosa’,

[3] Simon Allison, ‘Cyril in South Sudan: The grooming of an African statesman.’


[5] Tammy Petersen, ‘Ramaphosa heads Team SA in RWC 2023 bid’,


Gastrow, S. (1983). Who’s Who in South African Politics: Vol 2, Johannesburg: Ravan Press.| accessed 03 June 2019

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