‘You are the one, Cyril’
ANC supporters at a government event have made clear their support for the party’s deputy president
Cyril Ramaphosa stopped just short of calling for ANC members to vote for him to be party president so he can drag the country’s economy out of a recession and “junk” status. But the deputy president’s less diplomatic supporters took him out of his misery and said it for him.
Ramaphosa addressed thousands in a crowd of mainly ANC supporters at the Sada Stadium in Whittlesea near Queenstown, Eastern Cape, on Friday afternoon where he visited public employment programmes.
He smiled and giggled as a woman supporter in the 10-pole marquee screamed: “The Eastern Cape wants you!”
He also spoke out against government corruption and slammed leaders who enrich themselves instead of serving those who elected them.
Speaking mainly in isiZulu, Ramaphosa – campaigning to succeed President Jacob Zuma who is believed to prefer his deputy’s rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – said: “We want a government that is going to lead this country properly.
“At the moment, we are in a recession. It’s also the truth that we are at junk status. Therefore we want a government that is going to take us out of junk status. We want a government that will make sure...” he said, pausing as his voice was drowned out by supporters shouting, “Nguwe! Nguwe! [It’s you! It’s you!]”
On Friday night, Moody’s downgraded South Africa one notch to Baa3, just a notch above junk status, and assigned a negative outlook citing reduced prospects for economic growth and rising public debt. Ramaphosa, flanked by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana; deputy ministers Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams of telecommunications, Pam Tshwete of water and sanitation, and Phathekile Holomisa of labour; as well as Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle and some of his executive, said the country needed to create jobs so ordinary folk could benefit instead of a few connected people. Although it was a government programme, the event turned into a political rally with ANC members in party colours having braved the cold to praise Ramaphosa in song. He did remind the crowd that it wasn’t an ANC event: “This is a meeting of government. I can see that you want to change it into an ANC meeting ... As a disciplined deputy president I will talk about government business.”
But he appeared to forget that fact towards the end of his speech, calling on ANC members to be prepared when they went to the party’s policy conference next month and the national elective conference in December.
He called on the Eastern Cape, the province with the second-largest ANC membership after KwaZulu-Natal, to make a “meaningful contribution”.
“And when you speak of ANC policy positions you must speak the truth which comes from the branches.”
Speaking about the December leadership conference he said: “That is where we are going to consolidate the rebuilding of our movement. We must take the ANC out of the current Badsha is a South African documentary photographer, artist, political and trade union activist, and a historian problem it finds itself in and raise it high.
“At the national conference you will also be electing new leaders. Elect leaders you know and trust,” to which the crowd cheered: “Nguwe lowo! Nguwe lowo! [You are that leader!]”
Meanwhile, former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nceba Faku confirmed he abandoned his bid for the province’s chairpersonship to support former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas for the job. It remains unclear, however, if Jonas, seen as a Ramaphosa ally, will contest Masualle, the current premier and chair, and his rival secretary Oscar Mabuyane.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane said the provincial elective conference scheduled for next month was now likely to be held only in September.
IN HIS ELEMENT Cyril Ramaphosa