Cyril Ramaphosa is not only the South African President — he is also one of the wealthiest people in the country, with an estimated wealth of R6.6 billion.
To understand how Ramaphosa amassed such extraordinary wealth, it is important to look at his political history and time as a business tycoon.
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa was born in Soweto on 17 November 1952 and matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Venda, in 1971.
He registered to study law at the University of the North in 1972, where he became involved in student politics.
The turbulence which came with the political environment at the time prevented him from completing his studies.
He became a law clerk for a Johannesburg law firm and continued his studies through the University of South Africa. He obtained a B.Proc degree in 1981.
He joined the Council of Unions of South Africa as a legal advisor, and at their request, in 1982, he founded the National Union of Mineworkers. He also became the union’s first General Secretary.
His trade union involvement laid the foundation of his stellar political rise, and by February 1990, when the ANC was unbanned, he was a key member of the movement.
Ramaphosa was elected General-Secretary of the ANC in July 1991 and became the head of the negotiations commissions of the ANC at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa.
Reports suggested that Ramaphosa was former president Nelson Mandela’s blue-eyed boy and was in line to become President in 1999. It did not happen.
Ramaphosa lost out to Thabo Mbeki, after which he resigned from his political positions to join the private sector.
In 2001, Ramaphosa launched the Shanduka Group as a leading African black-owned and managed investment company.
Shanduka became a black economic empowerment trailblazer and rapidly built a comprehensive portfolio of listed and unlisted companies.
Ramaphosa’s excellent connections and strong deal-making skills helped Shanduka build a diverse portfolio with shareholding in businesses in the resources, food and beverage, telecoms, financial, and property industries.
One of Ramaphosa’s biggest business deals came in March 2011 when McDonald’s Corporation announced that he was the new developmental licensee for South Africa.
As the new developmental licensee, Ramaphosa was responsible for the operation of all McDonald’s restaurants in South Africa.
Other brands in the Shanduka stable included MTN, Coca-Cola, Standard Bank, Alexander Forbes, Liberty Group, Bidvest, and Seacom.
Ramaphosa also held many board positions, including chairman of Bidvest, Mondi, and MTN, and non-executive directorships at Macsteel, Alexander Forbes, SABMiller, and Standard Bank.
His venture into the private sector ended in 2014 after President Jacob Zuma selected him as Deputy President. It followed his election as Deputy President of ANC in 2012.
In November 2014, Ramaphosa announced that he would disinvest from Shanduka to remove any conflict of interest.
The disinvestment was achieved through a merger between Shanduka and black-owned investment company Phembani in 2015.
Following this merger, Phembani gained sole control of the Shanduka businesses. Ramaphosa, therefore, had no shareholding or any direct or indirect commercial interests in the group.
Ramaphosa also stepped down from his board positions, and he sold McDonald’s South Africa to MSA Holdings, a company based in the United Arab Emirates.
The 2017 Parliamentary register of members’ interests only listed Puma Sports Cars, Ntaba Nyoni Estates, Mondi LTD, and Ntaba Nyoni Feedlot under Ramaphosa’s shares and other financial interests.
The register also listed 32 townhouses and flats owned by the President and five trusts – three of which he is a deferred beneficiary.
The President had no remuneration outside of his salary from the state, and he was not involved in any consultancies or retainers.
The companies Cyril Ramaphosa owned
To appreciate the success Ramaphosa achieved as a businessman and dealmaker, it is instructional to look at all the companies in the Shanduka portfolio before it merged with Phembani.
These companies include many of South Africa’s top businesses, including MTN, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Standard Bank, Alexander Forbes, Liberty Group, and Bidvest.
It also had a strong presence in the industrial and resources space, with investments in MPACT, Macsteel, Seacom, Helios Towers, RentWorks, Lonmin, Pan African Resources, Lace Diamond, and Kangra Coal.
The image below shows companies in which President Cyril Ramaphosa had a stake before he became deputy president.