About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Ramaphosa, Matamela Cyril

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Cyril Ramaphosa was born in Johannesburg on 17 November 1952. He attended secondary school in Soweto and later went to high school in the Northern Province where he matriculated. He obtained his B.Proc through UNISA.

Cyril registered at the University of the North (Turfloop) for a B Proc degree. At university he became involved in student politics, which resulted in him being detained, for eighteen months under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, in solitary confinement for opposing apartheid.

On his release he obtained articles with a Johannesburg firm of attorneys and continued his studies through UNISA.

After finishing his articles Cyril joined the Council of Unions of South Africa in 1981as an advisor in its legal department. In December 1982 Cyril was elected as the first General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers. He occupied this post until July 1991.

In July 1991 Cyril was elected Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC). He became head of the negotiation team of the ANC in negotiating with the apartheid government. In May 1994 he became a Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly. He resigned from these positions in January 1997 to move into the private sector. He remains a National Executive Member of the African National Congress (ANC).

Cyril is the Executive Chairman of Shanduka Group; he is non-executive chairman of Johnnic Holdings, MTN Group Limited, The Bidvest Group and SASRIA. He is the past Chairman of the Black Economic Empowerment Commission. His directorships include South African Breweries plc, Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes and Medscheme Limited.

Cyril received the Olof Palme prize in October 1987 in Stockholm. In October 1991 he was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University in the United States of America. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Natal, the University of Port Elizabeth, the University of Cape Town, the University of the North, the University of Lesotho and the University of Massachusetts (USA).

Internationally, Cyril was the first Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council. He is a Vice Chairman of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS. He sits on The Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board and the Unilever Africa Advisory Council. He was appointed, along with President Maarti Ahtisaari, as a weapons inspector in Northern Ireland. He also sits on the International Commission of Intervention and State Sovereignty, on the UN SG's Panel on International Support to NEPAD and is the Honorary Consul General for Iceland in South Africa.

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