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Message of congratulations from President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa obtaining the life achiever award

13 September 2013

It is a wonderful occasion for the country and the African National Congress for Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa to receive the Business Times Lifetime Achiever Award.

The Life Time Achiever Award could not have been given to a more deserving, more humble yet steadfast human being than Mr Ramaphosa.

I have known and worked with Mr Ramaphosa for many years and have had many remarkable interactions with him. When he was still General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers we would meet on many occasions as leaders and members of the ANC and worked very well together during difficult and trying times as we worked tirelessly to bring about a free and democratic South Africa.

We worked even closer together during the Congress for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) talks in Kempton Park. I recall in particular during CODESA that his grasp of the law as well as his incisive knowledge of human and labour rights used to leave the Nationalist Party red in the face!

He was always able to eloquently make his argument and therefore put the position of the ANC clearly and in the most persuasive manner. This is the attribute that he continues to possess up to today and we are very proud as the ANC to have him as our Deputy President.

He is also respected across the political spectrum due to the contribution he made during the country`s transition talks at CODESA and the drafting of the Constitution of the Republic. I remember early during the 1990`s when we were attending a peace meeting with the Inkatha Freedom Party leadership at Carlton Centre in Johannesburg. As we got out of the car, a group of IFP supporters started calling his name and showing each other; `Nang` uCylil Lamaphosa`, he was quite famous even across the opposition! But he was worried about why they were calling him Lamaphosa! I pointed out that in isiZulu the letter R does not exist! We both laughed as we entered the building.

The most memorable occasion in recent history was at the then University of Durban Westville during the ANC 48th National Conference in 1991, where branches of the ANC elected him as Secretary-General and I was elected as the Deputy Secretary-General. That spelt the beginning of long comradely relations as members of the Top Six ANC leadership that we share up to this day.

In December last year, the ANC decided to make us work closely together again at the Mangaung 53rd National Conference of the ANC. The branches re-elected me as President and Cyril as Deputy President. So we have become used to deputising each other!

We work very well together. We complement each other well and the fact that he is not in government has been a blessing for the ANC because it means that while I am duty-bound in government, he is able to steer the ANC ship afloat and attend to its most pressing organisational needs.

I wish to congratulate my friend, comrade and brother Cyril for this excellent and well-deserved award!