This month marks a year since President Cyril Ramaphosa was voted into office. This also marks the first year of his first full term as President.
Despite him having assumed the presidency in 2018, following the stepping down of former President Jacob Zuma as directed by his party, those remaining months don’t count when you factor in the terms he’s eligible to serve.
The President has had many international roles before even ascending to the country’s highest office. No stranger to diplomacy, the President of Africa’s most industrialised country, his roots can be traced to union activism. And perhaps, the first platform to expose him to interact with diplomats and the international community.
His skillful negotiations in the country’s transition into democracy, reverberated as far as Europe.
Ramaphosa was asked to take part in the Northern Ireland peace process. His involvement aided towards the peace that region has attained.
Closer to home on the continent, he was roped in to help build a peace process following political violence that claimed thousands of lives in Kenya more than a decade ago.
After he took office last year, he went on the international charm offensive, putting to use his diplomatic skills.
Not only did he address several international gatherings eight months into his presidency, but his peers on the African continent also honoured him by appointing him as chair of the African Union for 2020. He’s only the second SA President to fill this role. Former President Thabo Mbeki led the organisation in 2002 when it transformed from being the Organisation for African Union.
As the focus on international assignments grew, so did domestic challenges, particularly on the economy. This saw Ramaphosa miss the UN General Assembly to focus on domestic issues last year.
This year he finds himself having to lead from home the fight against the deadly invisible enemy, COVID-19.
Unable to travel, the President has made full use of the technology. He’s continued with a number of international engagements.