Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s New President, Known for Moving Profits to Offshore Tax Havens

African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa has been confirmed as the new president of South Africa, after the former leader, Jacob Zuma, resigned from office abruptly on Wednesday night amid a series of corruption scandals. Ramaphosa once led the National Union of Mineworkers under apartheid in the 1980s. He later built a business empire that encompassed mining interests — including the Marikana platinum mine, where police killed 34 workers during a strike in 2012. Ramaphosa is now one of Africa’s wealthiest men, with a net worth of about $450 million. Now, activists are talking about Ramaphosa’s ties to tax havens during his time in the corporate sector. We go to Johannesburg to speak with activist Koketso Moeti, founder of the community advocacy organization Amandla.mobi. Her recent piece for News24 is headlined “The rich can’t steal, right?”

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. We end today’s show in South Africa. African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa has been confirmed as the new president of South Africa, sworn in after the former leader, President Jacob Zuma, resigned this week from office abruptly amidst a series of corruption scandals.

For more, we go to Johannesburg, South Africa, to speak with Koketso Moeti, founder of Amandla.mobi, a community advocacy organization. Her recent piece for News24 headlined “The rich can’t steal, right?”

Can you talk about what has happened today — actually, what has happened this week, Koketso? And welcome to Democracy Now! Zuma stepping down and Cyril Ramaphosa becoming president.

KOKETSO MOETI: Yes. Thank you. So, President Jacob Zuma stepped down after a lot of pressure coming from within the party and the country at large. So there’s a bit of extensive negotiations between the newly elected leadership of the African National Congress, after which he was expected to step down. He seemed — in the early days, he seemed to be a bit defiant. But the following day, he stepped down, when it was known that the motion of no confidence, which was filed by an opposition party, would be passing through Parliament.

AMY GOODMAN: The new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, once led the National Union of Mineworkers during apartheid in the ’80s, a famous anti-apartheid leader. He would later build a business empire that included mining interests, including the Marikana platinum mine, where police killed 34 workers during a strike in 2012. Now Ramaphosa is one of Africa’s wealthiest men, with a net worth of nearly what? Half a billion dollars. Can you talk about who he is?

KOKETSO MOETI: Yeah. So, Cyril Ramaphosa, part of the anti-apartheid movement, a strong leader in the ANC, a long tradition of trade unionism, he stepped down from formal politics in the early ’90s. And since then, he’s been involved in the corporate sector. During his time there, in the corporate sector, there’s been a bit of a series of scandals that have happened. And it’s an interesting pattern of behavior.

So, what we have is, in 2012, he was on the Lonmin board of directors. And during this time, there was an explosive report that was received — that was released by the Alternative Information and Development Centre, that found that Lonmin could have, in fact, afforded a living wage for the mine workers who were brutally gunned down, if they had not been shifting profits. So there was a strong allegation of profit shifting. And then an investigative journalism organization called amaBhungane did an investigation in 2015, where they found that during the years that Cyril Ramaphosa was the chairperson of the MTN board, MTN had been shifting billions in profit from the continent to outside. And then we saw, much more recently, in the Paradise Papers leak, that Shanduka, a company which Cyril Ramaphosa founded in 2001, was also named as shifting —

AMY GOODMAN: Koketso, we just have 10 seconds.

KOKETSO MOETI: — as shifting profits from the country. So there is a pattern of behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: So, are you concerned about what this means for South Africa, in our last five seconds?

KOKETSO MOETI: Completely, completely. I think we should be deeply concerned, and we should be just as vigilant as we were in the time that we had President Jacob Zuma, if not more so. The moment that we [inaudible], although Zuma has stepped down, should not force — should not see civic movements [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: Koketso Moeti, I want to thank you for being with us, founder of Amandla.mobi. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.