Cyril Ramaphosa: From Detention to Presidency, the Life and Career of South Africa’s Leader

Cyril Ramaphosa: From Detention to Presidency, the Life and Career of South Africa’s Leader

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa was born on 17 November 1952 meaning he turns a respectable 69 years old in 2021
  • The head of the ANC entered into university in 1972 where he became involved in student politics and part of the South African Students Organisation (SASO)
  • Ramaphosa is a well-respected political figure in Mzansi and has been praised by many for his response to the Covid-19 pandemic

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Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa was elected President of the Republic of South Africa in 2018. The politician and businessman is the head of the ANC and an anti-apartheid activist, having been detained twice in the 70s.

Cyril Ramaphosa, life and career, politics, ANC, apartheid
Cyril Ramaphosa began his journey in politics while studying for a BProc degree in university. Image: DHLADHLA/AFP
Source: Getty Images

Early life and education

Ramaphosa was born as the middle child to Erdmuth and Samuel Ramaphosa in Johannesburg on 17 November 1952. He spent his childhood in Soweto and attended Sekano-Ntoane High School before matriculating from Mphaphuli High School in Limpopo.

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He started his political career in 1972 when he enrolled at the University of the North for a BProc degree. Here he joined the South African Students Organisation (SASO).

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Beginning of hard political fights and career

Ramaphosa was jailed for 11 months - under the Terrorism Act - after participating in the Pro-Frelimo rally in 1974. He joined the Black People Convention (BPC) after his release. He was once again detained under the same act after the unrest in Soweto.

He spent six months in jail. Following his release, Ramaphosa pushed forward with his articles in order to complete his BProc degree, which he did with the University of South Africa.

Rampahosa was a legal advisor of the Council of Unions of South Africa (Cusa). The union formed the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in December 1982 where Ramaphosa was elected its first secretary.

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Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, ANC, political life and career
Cyril Ramaphosa met with the ANC in March 1986. Image: David Turnley/Corbis/VCG
Source: Getty Images

The start of Cyril Ramaphosa's relationship with the ANC

In 1986, Ramaphosa was part of COSATU's representatives who met with the African National Congress in Zambia. In the same here, Ramaphosa went into hiding after the State of Emergency was declared and police were swooping in on political activists in their offices and homes, according to SA History.

Fast forward four years where Ramaphosa joined ANC political prisoners who were recently released on their journey to Zambia. He was the Chairman of the National Reception Committee. This Committee coordinated the arrangements for late president Nelson Mandela to be released.


In 2012, workers at the Marikana Mine based in Rustenburg began protesting over a pay raise. A week into the protests, the matter spiralled and police opened deadly fire killing 34 protesting miners, reports The South African.

The Marikana Massacre has been described as the "darkest hour of South Africa's democracy". It's been widely assumed that Ramaphosa's eagerness to end the strike and the fact that he called the mineworkers "plainly dastardly criminals” (among other things), resulted in their deaths.

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The President stated that due to his position as NUM leader back in the 80s, he would never have called for the mineworkers' deaths - or anyones' for that fact.

Covid-19 pandemic

President Ramaphosa's response to the global Covid-19 pandemic has been widely criticised and simultaneously praised. From the decisions of hard lockdowns to the banning of alcohol sales, people have had their fair share of opinions.

As recently as June this year, the president asked that locals continue to be persistent in their practices in the fight against the deadly virus, according to SABC News. Ramaphosa held 'family meetings' and released his weekly 'From the Desk of the President' letter.

These were done to update South Africans on Mzansi's response to Covid-19. Ramaphosa's lockdowns and curfews resulted in a lot of hatred forming around his time in office.

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Briefly News earlier reported that Dr Tshepo Mostespe isn’t Ramaphosa’s first wife. In 1978, President Ramaphosa married a woman named Hope. The couple was married for just over a decade before getting a divorce in 1989.

Two years after his first failed married, the businessman tied the knot to his second wife, Nomazizi Mtshotshisa. However, the couple was not even married for three years before calling it quits in 1993.

Cyril Ramaphosa, Dr Tshepo Motsepe, family, three kids
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe have been married for 25 years. Image: KIM LUDBROOK/POOL/AFP
Source: Getty Images

Ramaphosa was blessed with a child, Tulisa, during his second marriage to Nomazizi. In 1996, the head of state said "I do" to Dr Tshepo and they have been together ever since. President Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr Tshepo Motsepe have been married for 25 years.

It appears that President Ramaphosa and his wife prefer to keep the details about their relationship private. Even though it is known they were married in 1996, there is no information on how they met.

Source: Briefly News

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