President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged Gauteng’s middle class not to turn their backs on the ruling party. Picture: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched a charm offensive on Gauteng’s middle class, urging them not to turn their backs on the ruling party as he leads the charge in reclaiming its moral and ethical integrity.

Ramaphosa was speaking on Thursday night in Sandton, south of Johannesburg, where he asked for love back for the ANC from the middle class, who were among those abandoned the ANC when its lost two key metros – Johannesburg and Tshwane in the 2016 local elections.

The party is also facing a possibility of being dislodged from power in Gauteng in next year’s general elections should its electoral support continue to drop.

 Addressing a packed auditorium of professionals and academics, he said despite the trust deficit which saw people losing confidence in the ANC, the ruling party had now been reclaimed from its wrong path and that it wanted.

“Colleagues, friends, we have found our back to our pathway. We are back. The ANC is back. It is for this that people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu even in his retirement sees this new dawn. 

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“We need to restore hope in the hearts and minds of our people about our seriousness in dealing with that which made their hope to plummet," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa indicated that he visited and apologised to Tutu on Thursday about how he had been treated by the ANC over the years.

He said the ANC wanted a "love back" and support for the party's  "Thuma Mina" campaign.

"I guess your presence here today is clear demonstration that you have rekindled your love back to the ANC... It is now time to harness the collective abilities of our people,” he added.

Ramaphosa said his administration had its hands full cleaning governance as part of restoring confidence of the people, including in state owned companies where he said rot had festered.

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“SOEs were sewed of corruption. They were like where the sanitation has clogged up. There was rot. There was filth and there was deep corruption in those state owned enterprises. We are rooting all that out right now. By so doing, we are not even waiting for the state capture commission. We have hit the ground running,” he said.

State companies including power utility Eskom, arms manufacturer Denel and Transnet have been embroiled in grand scale and serious allegations of looting linked to the controversial Gupta family which enjoyed close ties with former president Jacob Zuma, all of who are the main subjects of the State of Capture Commission of Enquiry. 

Ramaphosa said he would now monitor them closely after proper people have been installed to run them.

“We have set up a presidential SOE council where all key state owned enterprises in our economy are going to be overseen, where we are going to look at the balance sheet of every state owned enterprise – scrutinise it properly and see what in each so that the balance sheet management is no longer in the dark corner of some funny office somewhere away from that state owned enterprise,” he said

He said his recent interventions in the North West governance including taking over the administration of the province had also made him and his cabinet better aware of the crisis that had been going in local governance.

“We have identified those failures and we are going to work extremely hard to ensure that our local government serves the interests of our people.

“If there is anything I want to focus more attention on it is precisely this local government problems because that is precisely where our people live. The lessons that we are drawing from the North West – That Section 100 takeover – are going to help us to see how we can have what we would call an early monitoring system so that we are aware and we are alive at an early stage about some of the things that may be going wrong,” Ramaphosa said.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who accompanied Ramaphosa, also appealed to professionals and academics to return their support to the ANC and join its ranks.

Most of those who spoke at the event hailed Ramaphosa’s swift action against corruption and vowed to join the ANC’s Thuma Mina campaign.

Black Business Council chief executive Kganki Matabane however warned Ramaphosa against what he called a recycling of people in state owned company appointments, adding that fresh blood needed to be considered.

Political Bureau