Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is credited with driving through the deal between the apartheid government and the African National Congress that was at the heart of South Africa’s democratic constitution.
He was the ANC’s lead negotiator and the man who persuaded one of the most recalcitrant racist governments in the world to buy into a settlement based on one of its most enlightened bills of rights. But once the ink had dried on the constitution, Ramaphosa found himself politically sidelined. Before the negotiations he had been the head of the country’s largest mineworkers union. Afterwards, he went into business after concluding a landmark black empowerment deal. A talented negotiator capable of driving a hard bargain between implacable enemies, Ramaphosa has always been ‘the man in the middle’.
Now, as Jacob Zuma’s presidency enters its final stretch, Ramaphosa has re-entered politics and is one of a handful of candidates to take over as ANC president and as president of South Africa. Should he succeed, he will take over a country that has been battered by years of corruption and misrule which flourished under Zuma. The question that everyone is asking is: can the man in the middle lead from the front? Ray Hartley, author and seasoned journalist, attempts to answer that question by looking at how Ramaphosa has handled the key challenges he has faced in the unions, in business and in politics.
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