Cyril Ramaphosa is a wealthy business man and recently appointed as the deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) party. As the mining community displays the failing of democracy in South Africa, can this powerful man be a link to the mystery of the current government operations?
Born in Soweto during November 195, Cyril Ramaphosa is a respected and prominent businessman, a politician, activist and a trade union leader. He is married and has four children.
He got drawn into politics while studying law at university, and joined The South African Students Organization (SASO). He was detained for eleven months in 1974 under the terrorism law for organizing pro Frelimo rallied and detained again in 1976. He worked as clerk for a firm of attorneys while continuing to study for a Degree.
During 1982, he joined the National Council of Trade Unions as a legal adviser in 1982 and was requested to form a union for mine-workers. He launched the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and he became the first secretary of this union. It was his duty to organize and arrange meetings. During this time, he was energetically drawn into the creation of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU). During 1986, he was part of the COSATU delegation which met with the African National Congress (ANC) in Lusaka, Zambia.
He was on the National Reception Committee at the time when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. He remained actively involved in the unions and as a politician and a member of parliament. He withdrew from politics after he lost his bid for President of the ANC to Thabo Mbeki and entered the private sector during 1997.
He is executive chairman of Shanduka group, a company involved in the resources sector, energy sector, real estate, banking and insurance. Among other directorships, Cyril Ramaphosa is also on the board of The Bidvest Group, Mondi and Anglo-American plc.
Cyril Ramaphosa is considered as one of South Africa’s richest men and what he is worth can feed entire African continent.
At the ANC national executive meeting in December 2012 Cyril Ramaphosa, was elected deputy president of the ANC. He had a strong support from the Zuma camp during this time.
Cyril Ramaphosa has always claimed he is a committed socialist, although he is not a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP). He is a skilled strategist, and in recent months he has been criticized for his business interests and a seat on the board of Lonmin. He called for action against striking platinum miners engaged in unlawful conduct.
The Marikana massacre during August 2012, which resulted in the death of 34 miners and over 78 injured, created a dispute involving Cyril Ramaphosa. During a commission of enquiry, he was solicited by Lonmin Management to coordinate subsequent action against criminal protesters and many see him being responsible for the massacre. The shooting of the victims in the back caused an uproar. It was the single most destructive use of force by the South African Security forces against citizens since the end of the apartheid period.
A brief look at the Mining community
It was during the 20th century when gold was discovered on individual farms in Odendaalsrus South Africa. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and his Anglo-American Corporation bought up all the prospecting rights in that area and mined the richest gold find in the history of South Africa. Oppenheimer wanted to create a town and after many legal battles won the court bid and built the city of Welkom, in the Orange Free State. A sizable town was built with all the amenities of a big city. With all the gold beneath the city and surrounding areas, Welkom flourished. There were excellent schools, universities, a golf course and an airport. Money was everywhere, salaries were excellent and new cars were a regular purchase. People came from all over the country to be part of this new growing economy. Six mines were operating by 1970 and managed to produce 35 percent of the country’s gold and in turn 75 percent of the world’s gold.
When the ANC was elected into power in 1994, they did not want to control a percentage of the mining rights in South Africa; they wanted it all. The mining magnets saw the bigger picture, and in order to avoid losing everything, they merged with a British company in 1999. They moved their assets to a London company. In the last decade hundreds of jobs have been lost in the Welkom mining community. The Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) introduced by the government now has the majority control of the mines and the mines are being plundered for scrap metal.
Welkom underwent a name change, as did most of the bigger cities around the country, and is now known as Matjabeng and run by the ANC. During June 2011, the city used up most of its resources on dodgy deals and was a classic example of corruption and misuse of government funds.
Today blacks make up more than ninety percent of the population of Welkom and most whites have left the city, which is like a ghost town. The decay is evident, and most of the staff mining houses remain vacant. Churches have closed their doors. The few remaining white people are farmers who are struggling with the ongoing stock theft and brutal farm murders.
It is not just Welkom that has the distinct evidence of decay. Aurora mine at Grootvlei, Gauteng region, which is owned by both the Zuma and Mandela families, is not faring any better. There was a time that more than 5,000 people were employed; today that the amount does not reach 200 employees. COSATU called the Zuma and Mandela family members “super exploiters.”
The allegations against the owners of the Aurora Mining Group are damaging and have resulted in misappropriation of funds, not paying workers their salaries, and stripping the mine of its assets. This is a few of the damaging happenings at this mine that stands abandoned today.
The same Mandela family and Zumu family who have argued that they have fought for freedom for their people are the ones who treat their workers worse than dogs. The ANC, the Mandela Family and the Zuma Family are not freedom fighters; they are a communistic socialist party who keep their people in the shackles of poverty and exploit their human rights.
This same mine that was a part of a community that provided employment for its citizens, a mine that was the delight of its workers and owners. A mine that provided income for the South African government now stands abandoned – in ruins and looted of all its resources. The last remnants of its precious resources are now sold to a Chinese state-owned company.
Other mining communities around the country continue to suffer under the BEE rule, and, as the resources are being mined, it is the super rich that hold the profits while the underpaid, ill-treated workers continue to exist like slaves living on a promise. A promise of freedom, twenty years on and still waiting!
The failing democracy over the last twenty years shows the collapse of the very core of our economy. The governing party, the ANC, who call themselves freedom fighters have plundered the resources for self-enrichment. We have a ruling party that continues to remind the world of how their people have suffered. This political party continues to seek sympathy from the world and constantly begs for financial assistance. We now have a world that sympathizes with the South African Government and remain blinded to their faults, while the citizens continue to suffer under a failing democracy.
Opinion By Laura Oneale