Cyril Ramaphosa - The Road to Presidential Power by Anthony Butler

BIZNEWS  |  Series , ±44 min episodes total time 12 hr 34 min  | 
This is a serialised audiobook of the most comprehensive and respected biography on South Africa's president. Written by UCT Political Science professor Anthony Butler and read by Biznews founder Alec Hogg, it's broken into 28 instalments, with a fresh one published weekly on Mondays. The full audiobook is available for sale at R240 (incl VAT). Email for more details.

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Preface to the Third Edition

Author Anthony Butler shares why this book was two decades in gestation, and why it was appropriate to provide a comprehensive update for the third edition's publication in February 2019. The Preface is followed by 27 chapters telling the story of the South African and African Union president, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa.

Chapter One - No place to rest

In the opening chapter of Anthony Butler's biography, we meet Cyril Ramaphosa's family and get a feeling if what it was like to be a black person born into the South Africa of the early 1950s.

Chapter Two - High school

In this chapter, we follow the future president's secondary schooling career, notable for the continued deep links to Christianity. The first, a Sowetan high school named after the cleric and educator SG Sekano Ntoane. The second, to introduce teenage Cyril to his family's Venda roots, at the Mphaphuli High School in the small town of Sibasa in the far northern reaches of South Africa. Biographer Anthony Butler describes this modest establishment as one of the three best Venda language schools and among the first to add science to its curriculum. As we learn in this chapter, the school enjoyed a measure of independence, its buildings having been funded by 26 000 Venda taxpayers with no support forthcoming from the Apartheid government due to "lack of resources". We also see Cyril emerge as a leader through the Student Christian Movement.

Chapter Three - Turfloop

This chapter of Anthony Butler's biography of SA president Cyril Ramaphosa provides an insight into the way the Apartheid government applied its social engineering policies to the country's five black universities. Ramaphosa enrolled at the Turfloop campus of the University of the North in early 1972, one of almost 1,150 students. In line with government policy, Turfloop was designed to cater for those from Venda, Tswana, Pedi and Sotho ethnic groups. Cape Town's University of the Western Cape for Coloureds; University of Durban Westville for Indians; University of Zululand for Zulus; and the most prestigious of the five, University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape, the only one that managed to recruit from all over the country. In this chapter, CR starts to make a name for himself through his involved in student politic leadership.

Chapter Four - Detention

As a young man, South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa was among the 70,000 who were jailed, without trial, by the Apartheid Government, In this Chapter, biographer Anthony Butler revisits a little remembered fact of how, in 1974/5, Ramaphosa was put into solitary confinement for 11 months. And explains how this experience changed the man who was to make such a huge impact on his nation.

Chapter Five - 16th June 1976, the day Apartheid began crumbling

In this fascinating chapter, the biography revisits the Soweto Riots when schoolchildren in South Africa's largest township arranged their own mass protest against being taught in Afrikaans. June 16th, and the SA Police's shooting of four protesters, was a turning point for the country - and for the Ramaphosa family. The unrest spread to 200 other communities and eight months later 575 people had died.

Chapter Six - Behind enemy lines

The biography now starts to hone in on Ramaphosa's rapid rise to the upper echelons. This chapter, set in 1978, tracks the 25 year old Sowetan's relationship with the Menell family which led to an elevation onto the board of the Urban Foundation, serving alongside what were then the most powerful men in South African business.

Chapter Seven - Start of Part Two: Black unions

This chapter of the audiobook, which starts with an incredibly ignorant (and insulting) quote from the leader of the all-white Mineworkers' Union Arrie Paulus, exposes seeds of the massive role Cyril Ramaphosa was to play in defeating Apartheid. Pressure from trade unions was one of the major forces that shifted National Party policy. And as we hear in this chapter, it was Ramaphosa's organisational skill and attention to detail that created by far the most powerful of these bodies, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Chapter Eight: NUM - Small beginnings

Historians point to the Wiehahn Commission's recommendations that changed South Africa's labour legislation as one of the most important steps in the peaceful transformation of a country widely tipped for a bloody civil war. In this chapter we hear of how Cyril Ramaphosa met the man who was to become his ally at the National Union of Mineworkers, James Motlatsi, and combined efforts with other agents for change. And track the development of CR's negotiating skills as he mouled the National Union of Mineworkers into a potent force that confronted the all-powerful Chamber of Mines.

Chapter 9 - The Great Negotiator

Listen carefully to this chapter and you'll end up realising that those who under-estimate South Africa's president do so at their peril. Biographer Anthony Butler exposes how CR's negotiation skills were put to the test in the mid-1980s against a powerful, far better resourced opponent - and found not to be wanting. Some great negotiating tips for the rest of us, too.

Chapter 10 - Entrenching union power; streetfighting in the corporate's boxing ring

Streetfighters have little time for the Marquis of Queensbury. Similarly, when Ramaphosa-led National Union of Minerworkers came up against the establishment, discussions were never going to be "gentlemanly". The mining houses had the money, but Cyril the numbers. In this chapter, biographer Anthony Butler unpacks the journey that made NUM into such a potent force for change.

Chapter 11 - August 1987

This is the last of five chapters where biographer Anthony Butler focuses on his subject's successful mission to create a counterbalance to the Apartheid government. It details the events leading up to the fateful 10 August 1987 when 300 000 mineworkers went out on strike - forever changing the balance of power.

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