Key moments in Ramaphosa’s presidency

On February 15, 2018, Ramaphosa is elected president by parliament after Jacob Zuma is forced out by the ANC.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has been re-elected leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), despite being embroiled in a scandal involving a sofa stuffed with cash.

A veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, 70-year-old Ramaphosa was a close aide to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, but missed out on becoming his successor in 1999 when the ANC opted for Thabo Mbeki.

He went on to make a fortune in mining and also acquired stakes in McDonald’s and Coca-Cola before returning to politics.

Here is a snapshot of his presidency:

– 2018: President –

On February 15, 2018, Ramaphosa is elected president by parliament after Jacob Zuma is forced out by the ANC.

Ramaphosa had been elected ANC leader two months earlier.

He comes to power on a promise of tackling graft and unemployment, vowing “a new dawn” for his country.

– 2019: Weakened party –

The ANC suffers losses in general elections in May 2019 but retains its absolute majority in parliament.

Later that year, Ramaphosa is accused of having lied to parliament about a 500,000-rand (32,000-euro) donation to his ANC leadership campaign in 2017 from an industrial group.

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Ramaphosa is cleared by the Constitutional Court in July 2021.

– 2020: Covid-19 –

His plans to revive the long-ailing South African economy are dealt a heavy blow by the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa is the African country worst hit by the pandemic in 2020. Several members of Ramaphosa’s administration are accused of siphoning off funds destined to fight the pandemic.

Zweli Mkhize resigns as health minister in August 2021 amid the allegations.

– 2021: Unrest –

In July 2021, the Zulu-majority province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) erupts in rioting a day after KZN native Zuma is jailed for contempt of court. 

The unrest spreads to the most-populous province of Gauteng, killing at least 350 people in the worst violence since the end of apartheid.

Ramaphosa describes the unrest as an orchestrated attempt to destabilise the country.

– March 2022: Refusal to condemn Russia –

In March 2022, South Africa is among a small group of mostly African countries with longstanding ties to Russia that abstain from voting on a UN resolution condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and demanding an immediate withdrawal.

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Ramaphosa tells parliament he won’t be swayed into adopting an “adversarial” position on the conflict.

– June 2022: Cash heist scandal –

In June 2022, South Africa’s former spy boss Arthur Fraser accuses Ramaphosa of concealing a huge cash heist at his luxury ranch from the authorities. 

Ramaphosa is accused of arranging for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence. 

He denies any wrongdoing, saying that $580,000 in cash from a sale of buffaloes was stolen from a sofa where it had been stashed for safekeeping.

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The affair raises questions about why he was keeping so much undeclared foreign currency. 

On November 30, a special panel probing the scandal says there is enough evidence to warrant a parliamentary debate on impeaching Ramaphosa.

Thanks to the ANC’s comfortable majority, Ramaphosa survives the vote, which takes place days before a crunch ANC leadership conference.

– December 2022: Re-elected ANC chief –

On December 19,  Ramaphosa sees off a challenge from former health minister Zweli Mkhize to be re-elected party leader, paving the way for him to win a second term as South African leader if the ANC wins the next general election in 2024

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