Some see Cyril Ramaphosa's return to the top leadership of the ANC as President Jacob Zuma's deputy as a promising step forward for South Africa's future. Others have reservations.
There has been a buzz of welcome for Cyril Ramaphosa, a former close aide of Nelson Mandela, at his re-entry into the political arena.
The business community is especially enthusiastic. Economic analyst Azar Jarmine told DW correspondent Subry Govender at the ANC elective conference in Mangaung "there was no better potential candidate to lead the country."
Jarmine said Ramaphosa was not taking up political office as a means to acquire wealth "which puts him in a better position than virtually everyone else to straddle all the interest groups in the country and to lead the country."
Boost for growth
Having risen to prominence as a charismatic union leader in the 1980s, Ramaphosa became the ANC's main negotiator in the talks that led to historic all-race elections in 1994 and Mandela's appointment as South Africa's first black president.
Ramaphosa slipped out of politics and into business in 1994 after Thabo Mbeki and F.W. de Klerk were elected deputy presidents in Mandela's first democratic government.
He founded the Shanduka Group which has interests in resources, energy, real estate, banking and telecommunications and he is reported to be one of South Africa's wealthiest citizens with an estimated personal fortune of four billion rand ($ 471 million, 356 million euros ).
Business leaders attending the ANC's elective conference appeared confident Ramaphosa's election as deputy president would give economic growth in South Africa a major boost. Martin Mafokeng, a senior official with the National African Federated Chambers of Commerce (NAFCOC), believes Ramaphosa's "experience in business will reflect in government." Geo Heyns, CEO of a manufacturing company said "there is a need for better policies, there's a need for better services and I think he (Ramaphosa) can play a role here."
ANC delegates also voiced their faith in the new deputy president. "If you can manage business like that and become a billionaire then you will be a good leader," one delegate told DW. "I think he is bringing back the confidence of business into the ANC," said another.
Criticism of Ramaphosa
Others, such as veteran Communist Party member Yunus Carrim, have their doubts. "There's a sense of unease that a person who is not just a business person, but also a very wealthy person, could possibly be a future president."
It was Ramaphosa's directorship at Lonmin that has led to recent, heightened interest in his business activities. Lonmin owns the platinum mine at Marikana, where 34 miners died in a police crackdown in August. Emails have emerged showing that Ramaphosa had urged ministers to crack down, on the very day before the shootings.
One trade union leader told the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity that workers were not really passionate and enthusiastic about Ramaphosa's nomination. "He has business tentacles all over the place and has not really pursued working class interests. He has actually exploited us."