Ramaphosa gets a global Madiba moment, while SA ponders Denel's next step

2019-01-27 10:53
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media during the 2019 World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland  (GCIS)

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media during the 2019 World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (GCIS)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has finished off his first official state visit to India on a good note, celebrating and inviting "real, ethically driven" Indian businesses to invest more in South Africa.

A visibly fatigued Ramaphosa, following Team South Africa's stop at the World Economic Forum in Davos, had a two-day stop in India, where he interacted with Indian president Ram Nath Kovind and prime minister Narendra Modi, stakeholders from its business sector and delivered the inaugural IBSA Gandhi Mandela Freedom Lecture in honour of two icons; Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi and democratic South Africa's founding president Nelson Mandela.

Ramaphosa, who is said to have been Madiba's pick to lead the country, once again found himself walking in the late statesman's shoes, when he became the second South African president invited to be India's "chief guest" at its spectacular Republic Day parade.

India celebrated 70 years since its constitution was founded.

"It's been very inspiring for us to have been here at the real centre where Mahatma Gandhi excelled in the work that he did," said Ramaphosa.

According to some in India, the South African leader was not the country's first pick for its big event, with some claiming India had wanted US President Donald Trump to attend the parade where it showed off its military hardware.

$20bn down, $80bn to go

On Saturday, Ramaphosa shared some of his vision to bring in $100bn of investments into South Africa, saying he had managed to bring in $20bn but still wanted to get $80bn over the next five years.

"I am appealing to all of you to come and invest in South Africa, the relationship between India and South Africa is one of the best in the world, I would even hasten to say it's the best in the world," said Ramaphosa.

Without any mention of the notorious Indian Gupta family and amid some giggles, he said businesspeople in India were outstanding.

"People who come to South Africa to run businesses, not for rent-seeking purposes and not to run funny businesses," he further explained.

The Guptas, who are originally from India, have been accused of using their close relationship with former president Jacob Zuma to loot the state and to control members of his executive and state-owned enterprises.

"Those who've come to our shores, 150 companies have been real, ethically driven businesses based on good governance and cooperate behaviour that makes the relationship between the two is very special," said Ramaphosa.

Still working on Denel

The president did not give journalists much information on state-owned company Denel, but admitted that the Indian government had its eyes on Denel.

"We're still working through it, they want Denel to participate in their defence industry, so that's exactly what we will be working on," said Ramaphosa.

India's secretary of economic relations in the Ministry of External Affairs, TS Tirumurti, this week told journalists at a media briefing that the country's issues with Denel had been settled in 2018.

Denel was blacklisted following allegations of corruption.

Pravin Gordhan, one of the nine ministers with Ramaphosa, said the Indian market was very important for the arms manufacturer.

"We know the Indian market is a very important market for Denel to enter and the Indian government has very kindly worked with us to get rid of some of the historic problems that were there, so we have a clear road ahead do us," said Gordhan.

Read more on:    denel  |  pravin gordhan  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  india

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