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4 things to know about Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's new president

4 things to know about Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's new president

As Jacob Zuma resigned as president of South Africa after nine years in office, all eyes are on Cyril Ramaphosa, newly sworn-in president, who may likely win the 2019 general election for ANC and go on to rule South Africa beyond 2019.

The African National Congress (ANC) has been keen for Ramaphosa to take over from Zuma in time to unify a badly divided party before the 2019 general elections, and there are speculations that Ramaphosa may go on to lead South Africa beyond 2019, TIME reports.

Below are four things you should know about Cyril Ramaphosa:

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1. Anti-apartheid figure

Ramaphosa was an integral part of the anti-apartheid movement. He was an activist lawyer who grew up in Soweto, an impoverished township in Johannesburg, and his anti-apartheid activities saw him detained twice in the 1970s. He formed the influential National Union of Mineworkers in the 1980s and led some of the country’s biggest strikes, which shook the foundations of the apartheid-era economy.

2. One of South Africa's richest man

In 2014, he became one of the country’s richest men when he divested from Shanduka, which at the time was worth more than $580 million. His step away from business pursuits was made in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest after Zuma appointed him as South Africa’s deputy president that year.

3. The Marikana killings

In 2012, the police killed 34 workers at the Marikana platinum mine. Ramaphosa was then the director of the multinational company that owned the mine, Lonmin. He was blamed of taking the management’s side over the workers when emails emerged showing him referring to the striking miners as engaging in “dastardly criminal acts.” Ramaphosa later apologized on national radio to save his credibility in the ANC and the trade union movement.

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4. Election to the ANC presidency

Ramaphosa’s bid for the ANC presidency was run on an anti-corruption ticket, which enamored him to middle class, urban black voters and business leaders. In Dec., he beat his main opponent Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife and preferred candidate, by 179 votes. The South African rand surged against the U.S. dollar on the announcement of his victory. previously reported that South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, resigned from office on Wednesday, February 14, after nine years in office.

Zuma resigned after much controversy and threat of impeachment from the National Assembly as well as a vote of no confidence from his political party, African National Congress (ANC).

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