The chief guest of Republic Day Parade 2019 is Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of India's old ally South Africa. President Ramaphosa is visiting for the first time to India as the head of state. He is the second president of South Africa after Nelson Mandela to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
Ramaphosa, who succeeded Jacob Zuma at the top post in the southern African nation last year, was invited to the ceremony as chief guest after the US President Donald Trump declined the invitation due to 'scheduling issue'. In 2015, Barack Obama was India's Republic Day chief guest. PM Narendra Modi had extended the invitation to Ramaphosa personally at the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Buenas Aires last month.
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Cyril Ramaphosa, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, was invited because this year will mark Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary. India and South Africa share a common vision on a range of global issues and closely cooperate in multilateral forums like the UN, BRICS, G-20, Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and IBSA.
President @CyrilRamaphosa, accompanied by spouse Dr Tshepo Motsepe, arrives at the Forecourt Presidential Palace and is welcomed by President Kobind and Prime Narendra Minister Modi ahead of his State Visit. #SAinIndia #RepublicDay #BetterAfricaBetterWorld pic.twitter.com/d5nCom7Bpw— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) January 25, 2019
Ramaphosa, who arrived in India on Friday, also took part in Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations, which commemorate Gandhi's return to India from South Africa. The date was moved from January 9 to the second half of the month so it would coincide with Republic Day celebrations.
“For Madiba, Gandhiji was an inspiration and a role model. In tracing the evolution of his political thought, as laid out in his writings and speeches, we see clearly the confluence of history, experience and pragmatism – as we have seen with those of Gandhi.” #SAinIndia #IBSA pic.twitter.com/gywJGgVuCH— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) January 25, 2019
Born in Soweto on November 17, 1952, Cyril Ramaphosa is widely recognised as a successful businessman and respected politician, commended for his humility. After completing his degree in 1981, Ramaphosa joined an independent trade union movement, the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA).
In 1982, at the request of the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA), he founded the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and became the union's first General Secretary. He was instrumental in building NUM into the most powerful union at the time, with membership rising from 6,000 to 3,00,000 during his tenure. Ramaphosa led mineworkers in one of the biggest strikes in South Africa's history in 1987.
In the eyes of many black mine workers, he was a true compatriot who fought for the transformation of labour relations in the mining industry under the apartheid government.
Following a long and intensive history in student and trade-union politics, and playing a leading role in the Mass Democratic Movement that preceded the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC), Ramaphosa hit the headlines as he introduced Nelson Mandela to the thousands of supporters outside the Cape Town City Hall, where Mandela delivered his first public speech in 30 years.
After the first democratic election in 1994, Ramaphosa became a member of Parliament and was later elected chairperson of the constitutional assembly.
In that position, he was responsible for overseeing the drafting of South Africa's internationally acclaimed first democratic constitution.
In 2009, this contribution was recognised with the award of the National Order of the Baobab in Silver.
In February 2018, following Jacob Zuma's resignation, Ramaphosa was elected as South Africa's president by the National Assembly.