CAPE TOWN – South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has been under immense strain in recent weeks as he oversaw the tricky exit of his predecessor Jacob Zuma and then delivered a state-of-the-nation address to an expectant nation, and there was more pressure on Thursday as he teed it up in the presidential golf day under the glare of cameras and a large crowd.
Standing on the first tee at Atlantic Beach golf club on Cape Town's west coast on a blisteringly hot day, Ramaphosa drew laughter when he wagged his finger at a cluster of photographers situated mere feet in front of and slightly to the right of the tee box, and said: “You guys over there...”
There was further laughter when he added: “I am no Tiger Woods!”
However, there was nothing wrong with his tee shot as the 65-year-old sent a crisp drive down the first fairway, drawing a stirring round of applause from the large gathering of media, government and business leaders.
The ice cool Ramaphosa also batted away questions on any possible Cabinet reshuffle amid fevered speculation in political circles, saying: “Sorry I can't hear you, what was that? I don't know, I can't hear properly....”
Ramaphosa, who has at times over the past two weeks appeared drawn and tired by a frenetic schedule, displayed a far more relaxed disposition on Thursday, responding to a question of whether the mantle of president had settled in yet, by saying: “Many people still refer to me as DP (deputy president) and that is the one I am used to, so I am saying to them they should just call me President DP.”
He continued: “It is still taking time to settle in. With the support and the enthusiastic feeling amongst our people, I think it will settle in with time. As I was saying, a new dawn has really arrived in our country and people all over the country are feeling enthusiastic. When I came in I saw a number of residents of this golf course, which I had never seen before, standing at the gate holding the South African flag, there is a new sense of pride, a new sense of enthusiasm that has come in...”
At this point the horn to start the golf day sounded, and Ramaphosa drew further laughs when he said: “Even the vuvuzela is going...”
The annual Presidential Golf Challenge raises funds for charities designated by the sitting head of State and provides an opportunity for networking between government and partners in other sectors of society. Proceeds from the 2018 event will go to the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, which in turn, will distribute the funds to various charities.
Ramaphosa said: “We are doing this for charity, today is a fantastic day, the weather is great and to be playing golf here after Budget Day is really fantastic. I would like to thank all the business people who are here, the various companies, we thank and applaud you because we are doing this for charity.
“It is a great day, it is a great day for fun, laughing at each other as we miss golf balls,” he added. “But only on one condition, you don't laugh at the president's mistakes.”
African News Agency (ANA)