What a difference a week can have on one’s view of the past.
Last week, while at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Cyril Ramaphosa made a contentious statement in which he referred to his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s term in office as “a wasted nine years”.
A week later, while addressing scores of ANC supporters gathered at the Galeshewe Stadium in the Northern Cape, Ramaphosa appeared to backtrack on these sentiments, declaring: “In the past few years, the ANC has moved South Africa forward in a meaningful way.”
He went on to say that the ANC had touched South Africans in a manner that far exceeded all other political parties.
“When we travel around the world, people always say: ‘We admire you South Africans for the progress you have made coming out of the nightmare that was apartheid,’” said Ramaphosa.
However, he was quick to add that these achievements did not mean that the party should rest on its laurels, but rather, that “this should embolden the party to strive to do even more”.
The president was addressing ANC supporters in Kimberley as the party held its provincial manifesto launch on Saturday morning.
The event – and in particular, Ramaphosa’s address – coincided with the Economic Freedom Fighters’ election manifesto launch, which took place at the Giant Stadium in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria.
Without directly responding to the damning allegations of misconduct levelled against senior ANC officials at the state capture commission of inquiry over the past two weeks, Ramaphosa told the party’s supporters: “Without a doubt, there have been mistakes made ... however, these mistakes have presented the ANC with an opportunity to reflect and then return the country to a path of transformation.
“The people of our country deserve better. The ANC humbles itself before the nation. It is with great humility that we come before you – without any sense of arrogance or bravado, but with a genuine desire to continue serving the people of South Africa.”
Ramaphosa assured the crowd that the party still viewed itself “as servants of the nation” and did not condone the behaviour of the ANC executives implicated in damning testimony at the state capture commission – in particular, in testimony given by former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi.
The president engaged the crowd in his characteristically friendly and easygoing manner. Before delivering the keynote address, he took part in the Meerkat Marathon, chatting to fellow participants and posing for photos.
After his walk, Ramaphosa also handed out title deeds to some residents in Jacksonville and Mahala Park.