Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN

NOW that Cyril Ramaphosa is both the second-most powerful politician and second-wealthiest black man in South Africa it can be expected that soon he will face a situation where these two roles come into conflict.

However, as an African National Congress (ANC) official who is not a public representative or a member of the executive within the government, there are no mechanisms through which these conflicts could be managed. ANC officials are not required to declare their business interests to the party, either publicly or privately.

But should Mr Ramaphosa be asked to serve in the government, he would have to abide by both Parliament’s disclosure requirements and the executive code of ethics.

The past year has seen a dramatic escalation of Mr Ramaphosa’s wealth. From last year to this year his worth rose 39% to R3.1bn. This is according to the Sunday Times Rich List, which measures wealth on the basis of an individual’s holdings in listed companies.

A glance at the holdings of Shanduka, in which the Ramaphosa Family Trust owns 30%, reveals a large and diverse range of interests across almost every sector. In the financial sector, these include holdings of 1.2% in Standard Bank, where Mr Ramaphosa is also a director, 7.8% in Alexander Forbes and 1.5% in the Liberty Group.

Shanduka also owns 0.54% of industrial holding company Bidvest, with varied interests including vehicle dealerships. In the telecoms sector, Shanduka has interests in both South Africa and Nigeria, the fastest growing mobile communications market in the world. The interests include 0.45% of MTN SA and about 5% of MTN Nigeria. It also has a 32.7% interest in a cellphone tower building operation in Nigeria — Helios Towers — and 12.5% in Seacom, which constructs undersea cables.

The MTN Nigeria deal, concluded last month, had the markets buzzing partly out of envy, but also over concerns about several conflicts of interest. MTN Nigeria is the most profitable part of MTN on the continent.

The highlighted conflicts of interest include that Mr Ramaphosa is chairman of MTN Group, the majority owner of the Nigerian operation. But the company has said Mr Ramaphosa excluded himself from all the discussions relating to Shanduka’s purchase of shares in MTN Nigeria.

Shanduka has interests in mining, including 50% of Incwala Resources. Further, it is an empowerment partner to platinum miner Lonmin, in which it holds 5%, owns a stake in Pan African Resources and has a coal mining subsidiary Shanduka Coal.

Its other interests are in MacSteel Services Centres and it owns a 42% stake in paper and packaging company Mondi Shanduka.

In the energy sector, it has investments in a Mozambican gas-power plant and in both wind and solar energy generation in South Africa.

Most well known to the public is Mr Ramaphosa’s 70% holding in McDonald’s SA and 70% in one of three bottling plants for Coca-Cola.

With such a vast network of investments, it is inevitable that Mr Ramaphosa will find himself running into conflicts of interest.

After Mr Ramaphosa was elected, Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Tuesday tweeted that the federation had strict disclosure rules. "If an elected leader has business interests, he must place them in a trust and not be active while in business.

"Family members must also not do business with the institution you lead."