News & Media

Unisan is country’s No 1

The university is proud to congratulate alumnus Cyril Ramaphosa on becoming the fifth President of South Africa.

President Ramaphosa obtained his BProc degree from Unisa in 1981. He was also awarded the Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL)’s prestigious Leadership in Practice Award (LIP) for 2007.

The award, an initiative of the Unisa SBL Alumni Association, recognised Ramaphosa’s exceptional leadership in South Africa. It paid tribute to his skills as both a negotiator and strategist, qualities that helped pave the way for a peaceful transition to political democracy in South Africa. He also played an active role in the promotion of economic democracy through his commitment to the trade union movement.

In accepting the award at a gala dinner in April 2008, Ramaphosa said leaders who stood the test of time were those who subjected themselves to recall.

Paying tribute to ‘the best leader I’ve ever had the privilege to work under’, Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa warned that good leaders never surged ahead without the views of others. Mandela, he said, always sought the views of those around him before embarking on an action.

The LIP award was not the first time the university honoured him for his outstanding leadership qualities. The Department of Business Management in Unisa’s College of Economic and Management Sciences recognised him as Leading Industrialist in 1997.

Named in 2007 as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people worldwide, Ramaphosa has always led by example, taking up positions such as Secretary General of the ANC, Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly, the Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council, and Deputy President of South Africa.

During a media conference prior to the LIP award dinner, Ramaphosa was quizzed on the leadership crises in Southern Africa. He said that leadership always faced challenges and he firmly believed that there were always solutions. In responding to a question on what advice he would give to both young and older people faced with deciding their future or what changes to make in their lives, he said, “everyone has a gift and it is important to discover that gift, no matter what it is, and to do it with passion and to the best of one’s ability”.

Wise words with which to start a presidential career. Unisa salutes Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, fifth President of South Africa.

A praise song by Prof Greg Brown on the occasion of the LIP award could just as well be sung by Unisans today to honour President Cyril Ramaphosa.
At an annual function
Trying to sing a song
To a great leader
Been waiting oh so long

Leadership in Practice
Prestigious award
Sit back and relax
Get ready to applaud

Chorus: Mr Ramaphosa
We honour you tonight
Leadership in Practice
Has reached a new height

Strategist par excellence
Smooth negotiator
Democracy we now enjoy
You were facilitator

Your vision of the future
Left a footprint for our nation
Let us sing together
In joyous celebration

(Tshivenda) Ro tangana, sa muta ri pembela fhano Unisa
(SeSotho) Re kopane, re le lelapa re keteka mo Unisa
(isiZulu) Sihlangene njengomdemi sinomcimbi eUnisa
(isiXhosa) Thina, simanyene xa Sisonke siyi Unisa

*By Sharon Farrell