Ramaphosa brushes off ANC woes as he woos the French at Paris summit

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the Grand Palais Ephemere for the Financing of African Economies Summit at the Champs de Mars in Paris, France, on May 18.
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the Grand Palais Ephemere for the Financing of African Economies Summit at the Champs de Mars in Paris, France, on May 18.

Charming the international community, President Cyril Ramaphosa brushed off factional battles facing the ruling party, saying the ANC would emerge stronger and more united.

The president was speaking during an exclusive interview with French24’s Marc Perelman on the sidelines of the Financing of African Economies Summit hosted by President Emmanuel Macron.

During the interview — which aired on Wednesday morning — Ramaphosa opened up about several issues, including the ANC and its former president Jacob Zuma, fighting the coronavirus, and conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Perelman asked Ramaphosa if he took an attempt by suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule to suspended him from the ruling party seriously.

“There is no real substance to those things. It is a person who is himself facing criminal charges and will seek to find ways to defend himself ... You know when you are president, you are attacked by anybody. I carry on with my work,” he said.

Ramaphosa, who would not comment further on the matter, said he had confidence in the courts and that the party’s highest decision-making body, the NEC, would deal with the matter accordingly.

He was asked also why he could not simply expel Magashule from the ANC, replying that the decision did not rest on him alone.

Perelman asked Ramaphosa to weigh in on Zuma, whose corruption trial before the Pietermaritzburg high court was postponed again on Monday.

“Do you think he is trying to evade justice?” Perelman asked, to which Ramaphosa replied: “Well, I don’t think we was escaping justice. If he was escaping justice, he would have run away but he is not. He is obviously trying to exercise his rights as a person who is accused.”

Perelman then said: “He says it is a witch hunt.”

Ramaphosa responded: “I think, you know, he would want to say that. But it isn’t [a witch-hunt]. He knows very well that our justice system is a fair justice system and our democracy is a robust democracy that enables all of these things to happen. 

“There will be a fair trial, there will be a fair process but not only former president Zuma will have to go through [it] but anyone who is found to be needing to go through a process like this.”

Ramaphosa was asked about Zuma’s refusal to appear before the Zondo commission, despite a Constitutional Court ruling compelling him to do so.

“The commission has asked him to appear and he has given his reasons why he won’t go, and the party he belongs to has pledged its support to the commission ... The matter is now before the court and I prefer to leave all that view and judgment before the court.”

He confirmed that he would be appearing again at the commission, this time to answer questions pertaining to his role as president of the country.

On the summit, Ramaphosa said declarations that were made must happen with great speed.

On the vaccines, he reiterated the call for African countries to able to to manufacture their own vaccines to increase capacity.

He also weighed in on the conflict between the Israel and Palestine, saying the situation was worrying.

“We as South Africans are most concerned because the images that we have been seeing of people being prevented to move around, of their homes being destroyed, of people being driven out of their homes before they are bombed, of the Israeli soldiers manhandling people, brings back very terrible memories of our very own history under apartheid when people were forcibly moved from their homes which they had occupied for generations, when their homes were destroyed.”

He said SA would be willing to assist in negotiating peace.

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