Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to the deputy presidency of the ANC in 2012 was a surprise, even to many people who knew him well. The immediate circumstances in which he was elected made it even more surprising. On August 16 2012, in the mining area of Marikana, police units gunned down 34 miners, many, perhaps most, in cold blood. As a major shareholder in Lonmin and a director, Ramaphosa was inextricably tied to these terrible events. Many South Africans understandably assumed Ramaphosa’s political career was over. However, just four months later he was elected deputy president of the ANC at the movement’s 53rd national congress, held in Mangaung in December 2012. Jacob Zuma’s campaign managers in 2012 faced real problems finding a suitable “top six” slate for the conference. Zuma’s best option was to retain his current deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, but Motlanthe refused to play ball. He expressed his disdain for the direction Zuma was taking the ANC and the country. Motlanthe refrained from...

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