ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa made a strong impression at the WEF in Davos.  Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency/ ANA
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa made a strong impression at the WEF in Davos. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency/ ANA

Davos a huge boost for Ramaphosa's status

By Political Bureau Staff Time of article published Jan 27, 2018

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Johannesburg - Deputy President and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has enjoyed prominence at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour he spoke about his commitment to the future of South Africa, what to do with President Jacob Zuma, why US president Donald Trump should respect Africa and Cape Town’s water crisis.

When asked about the financial future of South Africa, he replied:

“South Africa is becoming renewed and we are open for business and investment.

“I think we are on a roll now. We are in a new era and we are just going to move forward.”

When asked about his personal commitment and ability to create change, Ramaphosa said: “I am promising to my people and to anyone who has a deep interest in South Africa that this is not a flash in the pan. We are going to go deep into the roots of corruption because it has been all-pervasive. It has dampened the mood of our people and in the last election many people did not even bother to vote because they said this is not the ANC that we know.

Read: #WEF: SA has no money for major nuclear expansion - Ramaphosa

“Yes, I believe I can do it and I have no doubt that millions of South Africans are going to rally behind us, behind me as a leader, behind the ANC as the party of transformation that can further achieve the dream that Nelson Mandela had.”

When asked about the future of Zuma, he replied: “The opposition parties want to impeach him and others want to have a vote of no-confidence in him. We are now saying that as the ANC let’s look at all this, let’s see what this transition can mean to the ANC and have a through discussion with him. I’ve said whatever we do in the end must be in the interests of the people.”

When asked what he would say to Trump, Ramaphosa replied: “I would say to him 'it is important for you not to disrespect or show any disrespect to any country in the world or indeed to anyone that you have dealings with'.

“President Trump’s origins and his roots are in Africa, the umbilical cord or his forebears is in Africa so we expect respect from him.

“I want President Trump to focus his attention on development. The world needs development.

“We should not have prosperity only being the preserve of the US. It must be something that is all-pervasive where all of us can benefit.”

WATCH: Ramaphosa at Davos on change, Zuma, Cape Town's water and Trump

When asked about the impending water crisis in Cape Town, Ramaphosa said: “Climate change is a reality. We’re facing a real total disaster in Cape Town which is going to affect 4 million people.”

Meanwhile, his suggestion that South Africa does not have the money for nuclear power has created hope among opponents that the project will no longer be pursued.

“We have to look where our economy is and we have no money to go for a nuclear major plant building,” he said in Davos.

Read more: Praise for 'new era unleashed in SA' - Ramaphosa

Earthlife Africa and academics on Friday welcomed Ramaphosa’s comments made at Davos, saying it signalled a departure from Zuma’s thinking. He has been pushing the nuclear deal for several months and changed energy ministers in a short space of time, leading to accusations that he wanted to seal the deal quickly before he is out of power.

Ramaphosa said South Africa had “excess power right now and we have no money to go for major nuclear plant building”.

Earthlife Africa director Makoma Lekalakala said Ramaphosa’s comment confirmed what they had been saying all along. “What I understand is that he is reiterating what has been said in the past that South Africa does not have money to build nuclear,” said Lekalakala.

She said this was echoed by different ministers of finance and energy experts, and confirmed in the high court last year that South Africa couldn't afford nuclear.

Professor Anton Eberhard and Dr Amory Lovins, of the UCT Graduate School of Business, wrote in a paper released on Friday: “The South African government’s obsession over the past decade with nuclear power may finally come to an end with a new president (of the ANC) and administration committed to restoring good governance and securing reliable electricity supply at least cost to support economic growth and development.”

The DA and the African Christian Democratic Party also supported Ramaphosa’s comment.

The DA’s deputy spokesperson on energy, Tandeka Gqada, said they had been calling for the government to halt the nuclear plan and now waited to see if Ramaphosa would go against Zuma on the issue.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said the government had ignored warnings from previous finance ministers and the current minister, Malusi Gigaba, that nuclear was too expensive.

He said he hoped the announcement by Ramaphosa would now put the matter to rest and the country would focus on fixing the economy.

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