DA leader Mmusi Maimane. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - It appears that President Cyril Ramaphosa is "running scared, as he refuses to participate in the much-anticipated presidential debates" which were scheduled to be aired live on SABC in the build-up the May 8 general elections, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.

"The presidential debates NPC coordinator Dr Bheki Shongwe has written to all participants indicating that the debates have been cancelled. Shongwe said the main reason for the cancellation was that 'all indications at present point to the ruling party not accepting the invitation and not participating in the debates',” Maimane said in a statement.

The DA therefore challenged Ramaphosa and the African National Congress to not shy away from the upcoming presidential debates and accept the invitation to participate. This would allow the debates to be rescheduled and go ahead.

Ramaphosa was running for re-election as president of South Africa. The least one could expect was for him to debate fellow party leaders on their respective plans to deal with the country’s most pressing problems, to be moderated by an independent body.

It was important that this election be a contestation of ideas. It was necessary to debate real solutions to the Eskom crisis, the economy, corruption, and the safety of citizens. This was an opportunity to demonstrate to South Africans the differences between the policy offer of the DA and the ANC, Maimane said.

Ramaphosa had promised to create a culture of transparency and accountability, and this provided him with a perfect opportunity to break with the past and show South Africans he was different to his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

"We trust Ramaphosa will come to his senses and reverse his decision not to participate, unless he has something serious to hide from the people of South Africa," Maimane said.

African News Agency (ANA)