- Anthony ButlerAnthony ButlerDepartment of Political Science, University of Cape Town
Cyril Ramaphosa became South Africa’s fifth post-apartheid president in February 2018. He was born close to the center of Johannesburg in 1952 and grew up in the dormitory township of Soweto. A Christian and black consciousness activist in his youth, he was detained and held in solitary confinement twice in the mid‑1970s. He founded the giant National Union of Mineworkers in the 1980s and rose rapidly in the liberation movement after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Ramaphosa led the African National Congress (ANC) team in the negotiations that enabled a transition to constitutional democracy in 1994, before political marginalization forced him to divert his energies into business. The unionist-turned-tycoon returned to political prominence fifteen years later, rising to deputy president of the ANC in 2012, president of the movement in 2017, and then state president the following year. As president, he has wrestled with intractable problems, including a sclerotic economy and public institutions weakened during the tenure of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
- Southern Africa