Ramaphosa under fire for using the presidency to pitch to voters on national TV



Published May 26, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa address to the nation on Sunday evening has come under fire after he used the power of the presidency - to call a nationally broadcast address - for what many believe was a pitch to voters two days out of a pivotal election.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa rallied South Africans to exercise their democratic rights in the upcoming elections.

Speaking from the Union Buildings, Ramaphosa highlighted the significance of the forthcoming electoral process and reflected on the achievements and challenges of his administration.

“This is a campaign speech. Abuse of power by Cyril Ramaphosa,” leader of Build One South Africa, Mmusi Maimane said in X.

“Cyril Ramaphosa commandeered the national television channels tonight to give a last-ditch campaign speech, disguised as a presidential "address to the nation." The disguise isn't fooling anyone,” said Geoffrey York, the Africa correspondent for The Globe and Mail.

In his speech on Sunday night, Ramaphosa said that at 9am on Monday, voting stations and homes across the country, South Africans who have registered for special votes will begin to cast their ballots.

“Thousands of South Africans living abroad have already voted,” Ramaphosa announced, highlighting the logistical readiness of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

This election marks the seventh democratic vote since the end of apartheid, a milestone that Ramaphosa emphasised as a testament to the enduring principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter.

“We will once again assert the fundamental principle, articulated in the Freedom Charter, that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people,” he said.

The President praised the IEC for its meticulous preparations and the integrity of the electoral process, citing successful voter registration weekends, the organisation of overseas voting, and the diligent application of electoral laws.

“We commend the Independent Electoral Commission for the impressive work they have undertaken in preparation for these elections,” he said.

Ramaphosa also addressed concerns over recent reports of electoral obstruction, including unlawful entries at IEC storage sites in KwaZulu-Natal. He called for restraint and adherence to democratic principles.

“We once again call upon all parties, candidates, supporters, and every South African to refrain from any action that could interfere with the due electoral process,” he urged.

Reflecting on his administration's tenure, Ramaphosa recounted the nation’s recovery from a decade marked by corruption and state capture.

“Today, we have put that era behind us. We have placed South Africa on a new trajectory of recovery and laid a strong foundation for future growth,” he said.

The President highlighted key reforms in various sectors, efforts to combat crime and corruption, and the nation’s unified response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He noted the significant strides made in rebuilding the economy, tackling youth unemployment, and addressing gender-based violence.

“Together, we succeeded in administering more than 39 million Covid vaccine doses,” Ramaphosa said, reminding South Africans of the collective effort during the pandemic.

Despite the progress, Ramaphosa acknowledged the ongoing challenges and emphasised the need for continued resilience and unity.

“At this moment in our path to renewal, we cannot afford to turn back. There is more work to be done,” he concluded, urging all South Africans to vote and reaffirm their commitment to democracy.“We are a diverse people, but a united nation. Let us be united in our commitment to our democracy,” he declared, ending his address with a call for national unity and blessings for the country.

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