Republic Day 2019: Meet Cyril Ramaphosa, State Guest of Honour at this year’s parade

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Updated: January 26, 2019 8:00:05 AM

South Africa is a key player in the BRICS and is one of the leaders in the African continent making it an important partner of India in the continent.

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Happy Republic Day 2019: Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, will be the State Guest of Honour at the 2019 Republic Day of India on January 26, 2019. South Africa’s acceptance came after the fiasco over US President Donald Trump declining the Indian government’s invitation to be the chief guest.

South Africa is a key player in the BRICS and is one of the leaders in the African continent making it an important partner of India in the continent. PM Modi had met Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in June 2018.

Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela’s choice for future President of the nation, and is a keen Gandhi follower. Last year, Ramaphosa led nearly 5,000 people on the 33rd edition of the annual ‘Gandhi Walk’ in an Indian township south of Johannesburg, seeking to promote community awareness and fitness and that occasion was reportedly the first time when a sitting head of the state joined the walk.

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Ramaphosa took office in February 2018 following the resignation of President Jacob Zuma. He was born on November 17, 1952, in Johannesburg. His family was moved from Western Native Township to Soweto in 1962, where Ramaphosa attended his elementary school. Ramaphosa completed high school at Mphaphuli in Sibasa, Venda in 1971.

Ramaphosa obtained his B. Proc degree in 1981 and joined the Council of Unions of South Africa as a legal advisor. He founded the National Union of Mineworkers and was instrumental in building the union into the most powerful union of the time, with membership rising from 6 000 to 300 000 during his leadership. Ramaphosa even led mineworkers in one of the biggest strikes in the nations’ history in the year 1987.

Ramaphosa became a Parliamentarian and was elected as Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly following South Africa’s first democratic elections of 1994. At that position, Ramaphosa was responsible for overseeing the drafting of South Africa’s internationally acclaimed first democratic Constitution.

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It is worth mentioning that the Indian Constitution has also some provisions where the idea was taken from the South African Constitution. In 2009, for his contribution in constitution making, Ramaphosa was recognised with the award of the National Order of the Baobab in Silver.

Moreover, the decision to invite Ramaphosa also ties in with Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s homecoming from South Africa. The event was rescheduled to the second half of January to coincide with the Republic Day celebrations.

In 2018, India invited 10 leaders from ASEAN countries as the chief guests on Republic Day.

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