Johannesburg - Cyril Ramaphosa will become South Africa’s deputy president and will be tasked with managing Africa’s biggest economy and putting a 20-year government plan into action following May 7 elections, according to two people familiar with the plans of South Africa’s ruling party.
President Jacob Zuma will put Ramaphosa, 61, in charge of executing the National Development Plan he helped draft, which aims to create 11 million new jobs by 2030 by loosening restrictions on business and expanding railways and ports to boost exports, the people said.
They asked not to be identified because the decision has not been made public.
The planned appointment represents the political comeback of Ramaphosa after a 16-year foray into business during which he founded and built a company that now has a net asset value of 8.8 billion rand.
In 1982 Ramaphosa co-founded the National Union of Mineworkers, which became South Africa’s biggest labour group.
He then led the negotiating team for the African National Congress, or ANC, that ended apartheid, before quitting politics in 1996 for business when he was beaten to the post of deputy president by Thabo Mbeki, who served under South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela.
The ANC in December 2012 elected Ramaphosa as its deputy leader as it endorsed Zuma for a second five-year term.
The ANC is set to win the national elections, having secured more than 60 percent of every vote since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Even though Johannesburg-based Ipsos, a polling company, said ANC support has dropped to 53 percent in a survey published January 11 that was almost three times the support the next most popular party, the Democratic Alliance, was forecast to get.
Zuma faces growing doubt over his leadership because of his failure to stamp out corruption and bring down a 24 percent jobless rate.
There past year has also seen violent protests over the delivery of services such as water and a probe by the government’s graft ombudsman into state money spent on his private residence.
Given Ramaphosa’s role as the deputy head of the 26-member commission which came up with the National Development Plan and his business experience, his appointment to deputy president would have a “significant upside,” Barclays researchers said in a March 6 note.
Barclays said Zuma could prefer to pick a deputy from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal in the south east of the country.
Ramaphosa is Venda, a small ethnic group from the north east of South Africa.
“Ramaphosa’s inclusion would be positive for business,” Isaac Matshego, a Johannesburg-based economist with Nedbank Group Ltd., said in a phone interview yesterday.
“This is one of the architects of our constitution. This is a guy who can get things done.”
Zuma declined to give details of Ramaphosa’s planned role in government in a March 6 interview with Bloomberg News.
“It’s not an issue to be discussed now,” Zuma said.
“The ANC takes its own decision on the basis of the reality before it. This is not the thought of one person, this is thought of the ANC leadership.”
Keith Khoza, an ANC spokesman, said he was unaware of any decision on Ramaphosa’s role in government.
“That is something no one can comment on,” Khoza said by phone yesterday.
“At the end of the day that decision is the prerogative of the president.”
Ramaphosa was not available to comment, Khoza said.
Ramaphosa is quitting his position as executive chairman of his Johannesburg-based Shanduka Group and will probably need to sell his 29.6 percent stake in the business, James Motlatsi, who will replace him as chairman, said on January 27.
Shanduka holds stakes in mines owned by Lonmin, mines coal in a venture with Glencore Xstrata, controls the McDonald’s franchise in South Africa and bottles Coca Cola.
Ramaphosa was named in second place behind Zuma on the ANC’s list of parliamentary candidates, which was submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission yesterday.
Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe were next on the list in that order. - Bloomberg News