Cyril obtained his law degree (B Proc) from the University of South Africa. After completing his articles he joined the Council of Unions of South Africa as the legal counsel. In 1982 Cyril was elected as the first General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers. In 1991 he was elected Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC). He became head of the negotiation team of the ANC in negotiating with the apartheid government. In 1994 he became a Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly, which drafted South Africa's democratic constitution. He resigned from these positions in 1997 to move into the private sector. He remains a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC.
Cyril is Vice Chairman of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC). He serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and the G3 Good Governance Group. He serves on the Coca Cola International Advisory Board and is the Honorary Consul General for Iceland in South Africa.
Cyril is the former Chairman of the Black Economic Empowerment Commission (2000). In 2000 he was appointed, along with former President Martti Ahtisaari as an arms inspector in the IRA weapons decommissioning in Northern Ireland. He served on the United Nations Advisory Panel on International Support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (2004-2006).
Cyril received the Olof Palme prize in 1987 in Stockholm. He has received honorary doctorates from universities in South Africa, the United States and Ireland.
McDonald's South Africa chain bought by Cyril Ramaphosa
One of South Africa's most prominent anti-apartheid activists, Cyril Ramaphosa, is to take over the McDonald's fast-food chain in the country, it has been announced.
Mr Ramaphosa was at one point seen as the man likely to succeed Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 but he instead entered the world of business.
He told reporters that the deal would help to create jobs locally.
McDonald's opened its first South African restaurant in 1995.
But analysts say it has struggled due to tough competition from existing fast-food chains.
Chris Gilmour, an analyst in Johannesburg, said he believed McDonald's had also misread the local market when it opened restaurants that were too large and expensive for potential franchise-holders to operate, the AP news agency reports.
Mr Ramaphosa has been awarded a 20-year agreement to run the 145 McDonald's restaurants in South Africa.
McDonald's and Mr Ramaphosa did not say how much the deal is worth.
The former activist headed the African National Congress delegation which began talks with the apartheid regime - leading to the end of minority rule in 1994.
He is now one of South Africa's richest businessmen.
As former chairman of the Black Economic Empowerment Commission, he was closely involved in the government programme to transfer wealth and economic assets to the black population.
Mr Ramaphosa said he was honoured at the opportunity and would "focus on satisfying our customers, developing our people and maximizing business opportunities".
McDonald's believes Mr Ramaphosa could turn round the company's fortunes in the country, saying he is a businessman familiar with South Africa's dynamics and market conditions.
"We are excited about the new relationship between McDonald's and Cyril Ramaphosa," said Dave Murphy, division president Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
McDonald's is said to be is the largest fast-food business in the world.