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Cyril Ramaphosa
2019 Sessão Plenária da XI Cúpula de Líderes do BRICS - 49065119826 (cropped).jpg
Ramaphosa in 2019
5th President of South Africa
Assumed office
15 February 2018
Deputy David Mabuza
Preceded by Jacob Zuma
18th Chairperson of the African Union
In office
10 February 2020 – 6 February 2021
Preceded by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Succeeded by Felix Tshisekedi
14th President of the African National Congress
Assumed office
18 December 2017
Deputy David Mabuza
Preceded by Jacob Zuma
7th Deputy President of South Africa
In office
26 May 2014 – 15 February 2018
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Succeeded by David Mabuza
9th Deputy President of the African National Congress
In office
18 December 2012 – 18 December 2017
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Succeeded by David Mabuza
13th Secretary-General of the African National Congress
In office
1 March 1991 – 18 December 1997
President Nelson Mandela
Preceded by Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo
Succeeded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Personal details
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa

(1952-11-17) 17 November 1952 (age 70)
Soweto, Transvaal Province, Union of South Africa
Political party African National Congress
Hope Ramaphosa
(m. 1978; div. 1989)

Nomazizi Mtshotshisa
(m. 1991; div. 1993)

Tshepo Motsepe
(m. 1996)
Children 5
Parent(s) Samuel Ramaphosa
Erdmuth Ramaphosa
Alma mater University of Limpopo
University of South Africa

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (born 17 November 1952) is a South African businessman and politician who, since 2018, is serving as the fifth democratically elected president of South Africa, as well as president of the African National Congress (ANC) since 2017. Previously an anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader and businessman, Ramaphosa served as secretary general to ANC president Nelson Mandela, deputy president to President Jacob Zuma, and chairman of the National Planning Commission from 2014 to 2018.

Ramaphosa acted as the ANC's chief negotiator during South Africa's transition to democracy. Ramaphosa built up the biggest and most powerful trade union in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). He played a crucial role, with Roelf Meyer of the National Party, during the negotiations to bring about a peaceful end to apartheid and steer the country towards its first fully democratic elections in April 1994. Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela's choice for future president. From 1997, Ramaphosa became well known as a businessman, including as an owner of McDonald's South Africa, chair of the board for MTN, and member of the board for Lonmin.

Ramaphosa served as the deputy president of South Africa from 2014 to 2018. He was later elected president of the African National Congress (ANC) at the ANC National Conference in December 2017. Ramaphosa is the former chairman of the National Planning Commission, which is responsible for strategic planning for the future of the country, with the goal of rallying South Africa "around a common set of objectives and priorities to drive development over the longer term". In 2018 he became President of South Africa without a general election, after Jacob Zuma resigned. Ramaphosa was re-elected president by the National Assembly to his first full term in May 2019 following the ANC's victory in the 2019 South African general election. Ramaphosa served as chairperson of the African Union from 2020 to 2021.

Ramaphosa's estimated net worth was estimated at over R6.4 billion ($450 million) as of 2018. He has been criticised for the conduct of his business interests, including his harsh posture – as a Lonmin director – towards the Marikana miners' strike in the week ahead of the Marikana massacre.

Early life

Ramaphosa was born in Soweto, Johannesburg, on 17 November 1952, to Venda parents. He is the second of the three children to Erdmuth and retired policeman Samuel Ramaphosa. He attended Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano Ntoane High School in Soweto. In 1971, he matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Venda where he was elected head of the Student Christian Movement. He subsequently registered to study law at the University of the North (Turfloop) in Limpopo Province in 1972.

While at university, Ramaphosa became involved in student politics and joined the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and the Black People's Convention (BPC). This resulted in him being detained in solitary confinement for eleven months in 1974 under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, 1967, for organising pro-Frelimo rallies. In 1976 he was detained again, following the unrest in Soweto, and held for six months at John Vorster Square under the Terrorism Act. After his release, he became a law clerk for a Johannesburg firm of attorneys and continued with his legal studies through correspondence with the University of South Africa (UNISA), where he obtained his B. Proc. Degree in 1981.

Anti-apartheid and labour activism

After completing his legal qualifications and obtaining his degree, Ramaphosa joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) as an advisor in the legal department. In 1982, CUSA requested that Ramaphosa start a union for mineworkers; this new union was launched in the same year and was named the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Ramaphosa was arrested in Lebowa, on the charge of organising or planning to take part in a meeting in Namakgale which had been banned by the local magistrate.

In August 1982, CUSA resolved to form the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and in December Ramaphosa became its first secretary. Ramaphosa was the conference organiser in the preparations leading to the formation of the Congress of the South African Trade Union (COSATU). He delivered a keynote address at Cosatu's launch rally in Durban in December 1985. In March 1986, he was part of COSATU's delegation which met the African National Congress in Lusaka, Zambia.

Ramaphosa was elected as the first general secretary of the union, a position he held until he resigned in June 1991, following his election as secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC). Under his leadership, union membership grew from 6,000 in 1982 to 300,000 in 1992, giving it control of nearly half of the total black workforce in the South African mining industry. As general secretary, he, James Motlatsi (president of NUM), and Elijah Barayi (vice-president of NUM) also led the mineworkers in one of the biggest strikes ever in South African history.

In December 1988, Ramaphosa and other prominent members of the Soweto community met Soweto's mayor to discuss the rent boycott crisis.

In 1985, the NUM broke away from CUSA and helped to establish the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). When COSATU joined forces with the United Democratic Front (UDF) political movement against the National Party government of P. W. Botha, Ramaphosa took a leading role in what became known as the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).

While not a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Ramaphosa has claimed that he is a committed socialist.

Rise in the ANC (1990–1996)

After the ANC was unbanned in early 1990, Ramaphosa became increasingly close with the organisation. In January 1990, he accompanied released ANC political prisoners to the ANC headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia; and, later, that year, he served as chairman of the National Reception Committee, which coordinated arrangements for Nelson Mandela's release from prison, including concomitant celebratory rallies. Ramaphosa was elected Secretary-General of the ANC at the party's National Conference in Durban in July 1991, and subsequently became head of the ANC's delegation to the negotiations that ended apartheid. He was also a visiting professor of law at Stanford University in October 1991.

Following the first fully democratic elections in 1994, he became a Member of Parliament (MP) and was elected the chairperson of its Constitutional Assembly on 24 May 1994, a central role in Mandela's Government of National Unity. He was also re-elected, unopposed, as ANC Secretary-General at the party's 49th National Conference in December 1994. However, in 1996, he resigned from ANC office and from Parliament and announced his retreat from politics, reportedly because he was disappointed that Thabo Mbeki had been anointed Mandela's successor.

Business career (1996–2014)

After he resigned from politics, Ramaphosa became a businessman, taking advantage of the conducive environment provided by the new Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policy. Among other positions, he was executive chairman of Shanduka Group, a company he founded, which invested in mineral resources, energy, real estate, banking, insurance, and telecoms (SEACOM). By 2014, Shanduka was worth more than R20-billion, and the Ramaphosa family's Tshivhase Trust was its majority shareholder.' Ramaphosa was also a chairman of Bidvest, MTN, and from March 2007, Mondi, a leading international paper and packaging group. His other non-executive directorships included Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes, SABMiller, Lonmin, Anglo American, and Standard Bank. In 2011, Ramaphosa paid for a 20-year master franchise agreement to run 145 McDonald's restaurants in South Africa. He also belonged to the Coca-Cola Company International Advisory Board and the Unilever Africa Advisory Council.

Ramaphosa's various shareholdings made him one of South Africa's richest men. According to the Sunday Times, his estimated net worth of R2.22 billion made him the 13th richest person in South Africa in 2011, and that figure jumped to R3.1 billion in 2012. Both estimates, moreover, excluded his unlisted investments through Shanduka, including the McDonald's franchise agreement and a coal-mining partnership with Glencore.

Cattle farming

During a visit to Uganda in 2004, Ramaphosa became interested in the Ankole breed of cattle. Because of inadequate disease control measures in Uganda, the South African government denied him permission to import any of the breed. Instead, Ramaphosa purchased 43 cows from Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and shipped them to Kenya, where they were artificially inseminated; the embryos were then removed and shipped to South Africa, to be transferred to quarantined cows. As of August 2017, Ramaphosa had 100 Ankole breeding cows at his Ntaba Nyoni farm in Mpumalanga. That year, he co-wrote a book about the breed, Cattle of the Ages: Stories, and Portraits of the Ankole Cattle of Southern Africa.

Public service

His resignation from politics notwithstanding, Ramaphosa occasionally accepted positions in the public eye, both abroad and in South Africa. He became the first Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council, and, in 1998, the Chairman of South Africa's BEE Commission. In 2000, he was appointed to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning as an arms inspector, responsible for supervising the decommissioning of Irish Republican Army armaments in Northern Ireland. And, in April 2010, he was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to the National Planning Commission, where he served as Deputy Chairperson to Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel.

In the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis, which followed the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007, Ramaphosa was unanimously chosen by Kofi Annan's mediation team to be the chief mediator in charge of long-term talks. However, Kibaki's government protested Ramaphosa's involvement, saying that he had business links with Kibaki's opponent Raila Odinga. According to Ramaphosa, Odinga had visited him in 2007, but he did not have any "special interest" that would lead him to favour one side or the other; however, he said that he could not be an effective mediator without "the trust and confidence of all parties" and that he did not wish to become an obstacle to the negotiations. He therefore withdrew from the talks on 4 February. However, he returned to a peacemaking role in 2014, when – in his capacity as Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission – he served as the South African President's Special Envoy to South Sudan during the South Sudanese civil war.

Ramaphosa also continued to accept nominations to the National Executive Committee of the ANC: at the 50th National Conference in 1997, he received the most votes of any candidate; and at the 51st National Conference in 2002, he received the second-most. Ahead of the 52nd National Conference in 2007, he denied persistent rumours that he intended to join the race to replace Mbeki as ANC president; that year, he ranked 30th on the list of most popular NEC candidates.

ANC Deputy Presidency (2012–2017)

Ramaphosa made his return to political leadership in 2012, ahead of the ANC's 53rd National Conference, when he received nominations to become ANC Deputy President. On 20 May 2012, Derek Hanekom, an ANC MP, publicly encouraged Ramaphosa to run for the ANC presidency, saying, "We need leaders of comrade Cyril's calibre. I know Cyril is very good at business, but I really wish he would put all his money in a trust and step up for a higher and more senior position". Ramaphosa dismissed the resulting speculation, saying, "You can't read anything [into what Hanekom said]. He was joking".

Indeed, Ramaphosa did not confirm his intention to accept the deputy presidential nomination until 16 December, the day before the conference began. However, he received strong backing from incumbent President Jacob Zuma – a partnership viewed as a strategic attempt by Zuma to "outsmart and punish" Kgalema Motlanthe, who was challenging Zuma for the presidency but whose constituency was similar to Ramaphosa's, given their shared union backgrounds and polished reputations. Ramaphosa elected ANC Deputy President in a resounding victory on 18 December: he received 3,018 votes, while Mathews Phosa received 470 votes and Tokyo Sexwale received 463 votes.

Deputy Presidency of South Africa (2014–2018)

Cyril Ramaphose greeting President of Chile
Ramaphosa meets with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in Santiago, May 2014.

After his reelection in the 2014 elections, President Zuma appointed Ramaphosa the Deputy President of South Africa on 25 May 2014; Ramaphosa was sworn into office by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng the following day.

After his election as ANC Deputy President, Ramaphosa had begun the process of resigning from various business positions, and in 2014 he concluded the process, as required by the Executive Ethics Code. This entailed his exit from Shanduka, from McDonald's South Africa, from platinum producer Lonmin,' and from all other companies which might give rise to a conflict of interest, particularly in industries regulated by the government. His other interests – including a share trading company, his livestock farms, his property interests, and a sports car company' – were placed in a blind trust. Parliament's 2014 Register of Members’ Interests reflected over R76-million in company shares held by Ramaphosa (although that figure excluded shares held together with private individuals), as well as his ownership of 30 townhouses in Johannesburg and two apartments in Cape Town.'

Domestic role

Alongside his duties as Deputy President, Ramaphosa was made Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly in terms of section 91(4) of the Constitution, a role which involved coordinating between Parliament and Zuma's cabinet. On 3 June, Zuma also appointed him the Chairman of the National Planning Commission, with Jeff Radebe as his deputy. In addition, Ramaphosa was responsible for developing a proposal to implement a national minimum wage, leading consultation on the matter between Zuma's administration and representatives of labour and business. The proposal was approved by cabinet in November 2017.

In July 2014, Ramaphosa called for unity in the country after Julius Malema argued that the Afrikaans portion of the national anthem should be scrapped. Ramaphosa said, "We are about building a nation and we must extend a hand of friendship, a hand of continued reconciliation to those who feel that the national anthem does not represent them any longer, and it can happen on both sides". Late in Zuma's term, Ramaphosa also began to address publicly the widespread allegations of corruption in Zuma's administration.

Foreign relations

Cumbre Global de Gobierno Abierto 2015 (21936041494)
Ramaphosa at the Global Open Government Summit in Mexico City, October 2015.

In 2018, Ramaphosa, in Zuma's stead, led South Africa's delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, to promote investment and business in South Africa. His other official trips abroad included a two-day working visit to Vietnam and Singapore, the objectives of which included consolidating trade relations, as well as the opportunity for South Africa to learn from the Singaporean economic model and the role it prescribed for state-owned enterprises. Ramaphosa also continued to serve as Zuma's Special Envoy during the mediation in the South Sudanese conflict, and participated in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediation in neighbouring Lesotho.

ANC Presidency (2017–present)


Ramaphosa stood for the ANC presidency in 2017, at the expiry of Zuma's term. Although he received the NUM's endorsement as early as September 2016, his campaign did not begin until April 2017. Under the banner #CR17 Siyavuma, Ramaphosa ran on anti-corruption platform, with an emphasis on economic policies conducive to industrialisation and investment. He was endorsed by Cosatu and the SACP; by the provincial leadership of the ANC's Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Gauteng provinces; and by politicians including education minister Angie Motshekga, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, and former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu.

Ramaphosa's primary opponent was Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who had the endorsement of Zuma, her ex-husband. On 18 December 2017, he was elected the President of the ANC at the party's 54th National Conference, defeating Dlamini-Zuma by 2,440 votes to 2,261.

Renewal project

In his first speech as ANC leader, Ramaphosa pledged to stamp out corruption in the party. He subsequently spearheaded what he said was a campaign to "renew" the ANC internally and to restore its integrity and public image. Among other things, this campaign entailed the implementation of the new step-aside rule to suspend ANC leaders accused of corruption. This, in turn, led to a confrontation with ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who, upon his suspension from the party in May 2021, attempted to retaliate by suspending Ramaphosa, accusing him of irregularities in the financing of the CR2017 campaign. Magashule's attempt had no legal force because of his own suspension.

Presidency of South Africa (2018–present)

President of South Africa MC Ramaphosa speaks to Russian President (28 June 2019).jpg
Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa
15 February 2018 –
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Cabinet 1st Ramaphosa Cabinet
2nd Ramaphosa Cabinet
Party African National Congress
Election 2019
Seat Mahlamba Ndlopfu, Pretoria
Genadendal Residence, Cape Town
Presidency of Jacob Zuma •
2019 Foto de Família - 49064712791
Ramaphosa with other BRICS leaders at the 11th BRICS Summit, 2019.

Following President Jacob Zuma's resignation in February 2018, Ramaphosa was elected unopposed as President of South Africa by the National Assembly on 15 February 2018. Ramaphosa took his oath of office in the presidential guesthouse, Tuynhuys, by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Markets rallied strongly the day after Ramaphosa assumed the presidency with stocks rising and the rand reaching its firmest since early 2015. Government bonds also increased in strength.

On 16 February 2018, Ramaphosa gave his first State of the Nation Address as the president of South Africa, the first time in a democratic South Africa where the president delivered his State of the Nation Address without a deputy president. Ramaphosa emphasised the need to grow the economy of South Africa, increase tourism and youth employment, as well as reduce the size of the Cabinet. In this speech, Ramaphosa also focused on the importance of keeping Mandela's legacy alive.

Ramaphosa's speech was met with mostly positive reviews from opposition parties saying that his speech was positive and that it would bring about change, but that they would hold him accountable.

On 17 February 2018, Ramaphosa, as commander in chief of the South African National Defence Force, attended the Armed Forces Inter-Faith Service at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley and made his first public speech as the president of South Africa.

On 26 February 2018, Ramaphosa, who had inherited Jacob Zuma's cabinet, reshuffled cabinet for the first time removing many of the cabinet members who had been controversial through the Zuma era and who had close links to the Gupta family. Ramaphosa also named the deputy president of the African National Congress and the Premier of Mpumalanga, David Mabuza, as the country's Deputy President.

On 8 May 2019, the African National Congress led by President Ramaphosa won 57.50% of the vote in the 2019 South African general election. Ramaphosa was subsequently elected unopposed to his first full term as president by the National Assembly on 22 May 2019. As Ramaphosa had previously been elected as president to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of his predecessor, he is constitutionally eligible to serve two full terms.

At the 2020 AU summit, Ramaphosa expressed support for the African Continental Free Trade Area and described it as a major driver for reigniting industrialization and paving the way for Africa's integration into the global market. Ramaphosa also stated that the free trade agreement will make Africa a player of considerable weight and scale in the global market as well.

At the 2020 AU Summit, Ramaphosa also expressed support for closing the gender gap and ending gender inequality.

His government responded to the 2021 South African unrest, the deadliest riots since Apartheid.

Domestic policy

Since Ramaphosa became president he has made land reform and the economy his main priorities, as well as dealing with the outbreak of listeriosis which has claimed the lives of over 100 since the start of 2018.

In February 2018, South Africa's parliament voted 241–83 to begin amending the "property clause" in the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation.

On 19 March 2018, Ramaphosa suspended Tom Moyane as the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service after Moyane had refused to step down.

Under his leadership, the African National Congress has pushed for a constitutional amendment allowing the government to confiscate farms owned by White South Africans. He has said that the state having the power to seize property for no compensation will encourage economic growth. In a time when the Rand is at a two-year low, economists have been doubtful over the possibility of this policy being successful.

On 14 August 2018, Ramaphosa appointed Dr. Silas Ramaite as the Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) following the ruling by the Constitutional Court that Director Shaun Abrahams had been appointed unlawfully by the former president, Jacob Zuma.

South Africa made world headlines because of attacks against foreign nationals within the borders of the country, with many South Africans blaming foreign nationals for the country's socio-economic issues.

On 10 June 2021, Ramaphosa announced that his government would raise the threshold for the amount of electricity that private companies could produce without a license - from 1 Megawatt to 100 Megawatts. The decision was taken in order to respond to the increasing challenges faced by the country during the ongoing energy crisis, and to give "oomph" in Ramaphosa's words, to South Africa's economic recovery.


Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative as a means to employ one million youth and giving them more experience in the working field, with the South African Government even introducing the Employment Tax Incentive, which would reduce employer's costs when hiring youth.

On 14 August 2018, President Ramaphosa addressed the launch of the Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) initiative in Pretoria to respond to the sanitary challenges facing the country's poorest schools.

Foreign policy

Map showing countries President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has visited
Map showing a summary of the countries Ramaphosa made official trips as president.
2018 BRICS summit (2)
Ramaphosa with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018.

Ramaphosa made his first international trip as President of South Africa to the Republic of Angola and met with President João Lourenço in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC to talk about peace and defence. Ramaphosa made his first international trip as the president of South Africa on 2 March 2018 to the Republic of Angola and met with President João Lourenço as the chair of the SADC.

On 20 March 2018, Ramaphosa made a trip to Kigali, Rwanda along with Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, and met with President Paul Kagame and spoke about restoring relations between South Africa and Rwanda, later participating as panelists on the African Continental Free Trade Area Business Forum (ACFTABF) ahead of the 10th African Union Extraordinary Summit. The following day, Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration on the establishment of the ACFTABF at the 10th African Union Extraordinary Summit.

Ramaphosa hosted the 11th BRICS summit for 25–27 July 2018, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

In January 2019, Ramaphosa congratulated Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro following his second inauguration.

President Joe Biden and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shake hands in the Oval Office
Ramaphosa with American President Joe Biden, September 2022.

On 10 May 2021, Ramaphosa said that the ANC condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and the "brutal attacks on Palestinian protesters" at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched on 24 February 2022, Ramaphosa did not move to condemn Russia or agree to enter any sanctions against Russia. A month later, he stated that maintaining neutrality was essential to his having been asked to mediate between the two countries leadership. Despite the on-going invasion and reports of alleged war crimes being committed by Russia; Ramaphosa also then blamed NATO's proximity to Russian borders for the actions of Vladimir Putin and his allies, stating that "The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region."

Political philanthropy

Ramaphosa publicly declared in South Africa on 24 May 2018 that he would be donating half of his salary (R3.6 million annually) to charity in honour of late former South African president Nelson Mandela. He said the gesture was aimed at encouraging the wealthy to dedicate some of their pay to help build the nation. The donation was set to be managed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF).

Ramaphosa is also the founder of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.

Honours and awards

Ramaphosa received the Olof Palme Prize in Stockholm in October 1987. In 2009, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 2009, presented by Awards Council member Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a ceremony at St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town. He has also frequently been listed as an influential individual: he was voted 34th in the 2004 list of Top 100 Great South Africans, was included in the Time 100 in 2007 and 2019.

He has received honorary doctorates from, among others, the University of Natal, the University of Port Elizabeth, the University of Cape Town, the University of the North, the National University of Lesotho, National University of Ireland Galway, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Personal life

Ramaphosa was previously married to Hope Ramaphosa (1978–1989), with whom he has a son, and to the now deceased businesswoman Nomazizi Mtshotshisa (1991–1993). In 1996, he married Tshepo Motsepe, a medical doctor and the sister of South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe. He is thought to have five children.

He owns a luxury mansion at the foot of Lion's Head in Cape Town, as well as 30 other properties. In 2018, estimated his net worth at R6.4 billion ($450 million).

He is a polyglot, and is known for using a variety of South African languages when delivering his speeches.

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