Windhoek-Swapo president and Namibian head of state, Dr Hage Geingob late yesterday sent a congratulatory message to newly-elected president of South Africa’s ruling party African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa, who ascended to the throne yesterday.
Ramaphosa was elected ANC president at the party’s elective conference over the weekend, and would be deputised by David ‘Didi’ Mabuza.
Geingob, who himself ascended to the Swapo presidency at an elective congress held last month, also thanked outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma, for what he termed an ‘examplary leadership’ of Africa’s oldest former liberation movement over the past ten years.
“To have ascended to the helm of a political party of this stature is no mean feat, and is an endorsement of your character, determination and leadership ability,” Geingob said to Ramaphosa, in a statement issued late last night.
“As you prepare to assume your tenure as president of the ANC, I would like to avail myself, should you need to liaise with me at any time, on matters of political and mutual concern,” said Geingob.
The Namibian head of state urged his new counterpart to reserve efforts to unify the party, which boasted two slates – one led by Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Ramaphosa becomes the 14th president of the ANC.
He became deputy president after his election to the position in the ANC in 2012. At the time he was wooed by President Jacob Zuma’s camp to give the slate “credibility” when then ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe contested Zuma for the top post.
Before that he was the chair of the national planning commission that produced the National Development Plan, the country’s blue print for growth towards 2030.
HIS UPSIDE: Ramaphosa founded one of the biggest and most powerful trade unions in the country – the National Union of Mineworkers.
He is credited as a skilful negotiator, playing a leading role as an ANC negotiator at Codesa, which charted the way from apartheid to democracy.
After the first democratic elections in 1994, he became a Member of Parliament, was elected chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly and played a key role in drafting the country’s constitution, revered the world over.
Ramaphosa led the negotiations for a minimum wage – the first for South Africa to be implemented 1 May 2018. Of all the presidential candidates, he is the only one to have held the two most senior positions in the ANC’s top 6 – as secretary general and now deputy president.
Investors, markets and rating agencies would react positively to his election. This is based on their view that he understands the economy. He has support from the Left wing of the ANC: SACP and Cosatu.
HIS DOWNSIDE: His role in the Marikana killings. Ramaphosa was non-executive director of Lonmin and wrote letters to ministers asking for “concomitant action” in the illegal strike by demanding salary increases. He has since apologised, but miners have disregarded his apology.
After losing to Thabo Mbeki to take over from President Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa joined the business world to build a net worth of R7.4 billion mostly through the Shanduka group. His detractors have used his roles as chair and non-executive director in various private entities to describe him as a “lover” of white monopoly capital seen to be against the ANC’s call for radical economic transformation.
Others have said leaving “active” politics was seen as him “sulking” after losing to Mbeki.
In 2012 he had to apologise for spending close to R20 million on buffalos “amid a sea of poverty”.
Ramaphosa is part of Zuma’s Cabinet and cannot completely avoid being seen as complicit in some of the decisions that he has been “silent” about over the years, only speaking out against Cabinet reshuffles and state capture now as he campaigned to take over from him. Additional Reporting by News24