Ramaphosa: City wants jobs

2013-01-11 00:00

THE surprise visit by the newly elected ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to the Pietermaritzburg city centre created a stir yesterday. Ramaphosa walked about the city centre’s main taxi rank in Freedom Square and the Imbali taxi rank, where he was swamped by commuters and was followed by a horde of people. He greeted traders, taxi operators and passers-by. A few who did not know him asked others who the celebrity was in their midst.

The former businessman-turned-politician chatted with the vendors, asking about the challenges they were facing as he bought fruit.

“He asked me about the problems we were facing and I told him that this place, which was given to me by the municipality to trade, was now leaking,” said Nomathemba Ngubane, who sells food.

Clementia Duma, another food vendor, said meeting Ramaphosa was a wonderful opportunity. “I have seen him on television and now I just saw him in person. He came just in time, as our electricity is off.”

Duma spoke to Ramaphosa about the ANC. “He invited us to the rally and I asked him if he would be speaking. He said only the president [Jacob Zuma] would be speaking.”

Younger commuters weren’t sure who Ramaphosa was. Two pupils in school uniforms said they had heard of him. When asked what they planned to do after high school, one said she wanted to be a lawyer. Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, who accompanied Ramaphosa, told her: “When you study law, you will study the South African Constitution. He is the man who chaired the committee that drafted that constitution,” said Gigaba.

An elderly commuter went up to Ramaphosa and thanked him “for the wonderful constitution of the country”.

Ramaphosa said his visit to KwaZulu-Natal was an eye opener and the province was making many strides that other provinces could learn from.

Later in the morning, he addressed small business entrepreneurs who are involved with the school nutrition programmes at the Royal Showgrounds; and during lunch he spoke to a gathering of business people. In the late afternoon, he addressed a packed gathering of ANC members at the Edendale Lay Ecumenical Centre. They gave Ramaphosa, Gigaba and Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor a rousing welcome.

Ramaphosa called ANC President Jacob Zuma, “Action Man”, and said he was going to make sure that the country moves forward.

The deputy president said a very clear message that came from the delegates at the Mangaung conference was that they wanted action now.

He said the party was staking everything on the R7 billion infrastructure programme — “one of the biggest, boldest and unprecedented initiatives on the African continent”; and the National Development Plan (NDP).

“We must kick life into our economy, which is not growing, to give our people jobs,” Ramaphosa said.

He added that on his walkabout just about every person he met asked for work. “‘I want a job’ is the consistent rallying cry of our people, which we cannot ignore, he said.

Ramaphosa said the Mangaung conference had laid out a great platform for the ANC to win the 2014 national election and added: “Comrade Jacob Zuma is going to lead us to win that election by an overwhelming majority. To win the election we must begin working from now. This is a decade of work. We are going to work and work hard.

“Our people are tired of talk, they want action and action right now. Our president, our man of action is going to lead us,” Ramaphosa said.

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