From August: Anton Harber on how Ramaphosa made history confronting Oppenheimer
The two men were on opposite sides of a brutal war for control of the mines, but their lives were interlocked, as were their futures
The two men are sitting close together, their eyes meeting, both smiling and their hands almost touching. You might think that friendship flows between these two giants of South African history in this photograph of their first face-to-face encounter in June 1986. The story behind it, though, is a complicated one that tells a great deal about these men and their role in how SA unfolded in the 30 years since then. On the left is a white man, Harry Oppenheimer — the epitome of mining capital in the apartheid era and the head of a family dynasty that at its height owned more than 60% of the JSE assets. He is impeccably dressed, a dignified 76-year-old elder statesman of liberal capital. On his right, in a casual jacket, open-necked shirt and corduroy trousers is a 36-year-old Cyril Ramaphosa, with a shaggy beard looking every bit the fiery young revolutionary. He was the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and a rising voice in the trade union and resistance mo...