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South African Deputy President and president of the ruling African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a rally in Cape Town. Photo: Rodger Bosch / AFP / Getty Images

Almost two months after he was elected leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to become the country's next president as negotiations enter the second week over the fate of embattled President Jacob Zuma.

What’s happening now: Zuma is refusing calls to step down, and party leaders say a vote of no confidence will be held tomorrow. If he's ousted, as expected, parliament will elect the next president. Ramaphosa, 65, will almost certainly win due to the ANC's dominance in parliament.

A former trade union organizer and key Mandela ally, he has been South Africa's deputy president since 2014.

Ties to Mandela
  • Ramaphosa was a protégé of Nelson Mandela — the anti-apartheid revolutionary who later became the country's first black president in 1994.
  • He was reportedly Mandela's top choice to serve as deputy and heir apparent, but internal party politics led to Ramaphosa being passed over. He later rejected a cabinet post and left politics.
  • He was Mandela's lead negotiator in the talks that ended apartheid, and later chaired the constitutional assembly that drafted South Africa's post-apartheid constitution.
Nelson Mandela and Cyril Ramaphosa celebrating the presidential victory in 1994. Photo: David Turnley / Corbis / VCG via Getty Images
Labor leader to business mogul
  • Ramaphosa was General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1980s and early 1990s, leading a massive strike in 1987.
  • After the end of apartheid, his political influence at a time when new laws were integrating blacks into the economy allowed him to acquire stakes in a variety of industries, per the NYT. His business empire grew over time, and included McDonalds' South African operation, mining investments and more.
  • He is one of the country's richest politicians, per the BBC, which reports that he has a net worth of about $450 million.
Controversies
  • In 2012, police slaughtered 34 striking miners at a platinum mine for which Ramaphosa served on the board of directors. "He was accused of betraying the workers he once fought for, especially after emails emerged showing he had called for action against the miners," per the BBC.
  • Ramaphosa has been accused of being out of touch (particularly after he bid $2 million for a prize cow at a livestock auction) and of enriching himself through a system he helped design.
  • He faced allegations last year of having extramarital affairs with at least eight women. He denied them and said they were part of a smear campaign to derail his ambitions to become party leader, according to local media reports. He later admitted to having an affair eight years ago, but denied other extramarital relations.
Return to politics
  • Zuma appointed him in 2014 as deputy president.
  • The ANC, which has governed South Africa since Mandela won the presidency, elected Ramaphosa as party leader last December. That came after Zuma narrowly survived a no-confidence vote, which also exposed the rift in the party over concerns that Zuma's scandal-plagued eight-year rule has tarnished the party.
  • Ramaphosa has received support from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, run by close colleagues of the deceased president, which said an early exit by Zuma would allow the ANC to "shore up" its prospects for next year’s election.

Go deeper: South Africa's Zuma under mounting pressure to resign

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.