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Presidency claps back at ‘roof top-shouting’ former presidents criticising Ramaphosa

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s expectations of former presidents is 'that their presence is that of elders who are there to guide and support'. File photo.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s expectations of former presidents is 'that their presence is that of elders who are there to guide and support'. File photo.
Image: GCIS.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s performance should be judged based on facts and not on rumour-mongering, his office said this week. 

“It’s important to emphasise that when people judge the president’s performance in office, they do so based on facts and not based on rumour-mongering and misinformed perceptions,” Ramaphosa's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said on Tuesday.

Addressing journalists in his weekly briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Magwenya used the opportunity to hit back at former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, who at the weekend criticised Ramaphosa’s leadership of the ANC and government.

Zuma chastised Ramaphosa’s handling of the Phala Phala farm scandal, saying it amounted to “corruption” and his successor should be charged with “treason” for conducting a “side hustle” during his term of office.

Mbeki said the ANC leadership will have no choice but to discuss whether Ramaphosa should step aside. A parliamentary panel will look into whether he has an impeachable case to answer to.

He has been critical of Ramaphosa, decrying the slow pace of his government in implementing its social compact.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe has called out the two former presidents for having “public spats” with Ramaphosa. TimesLIVE reported Mabe said the ANC top six will meet Mbeki and Zuma after their criticisms.

Magwenya said: “President Ramaphosa’s expectations of former presidents is that their presence is that of elders who are there to guide and support. Of course they will criticise where they see fit and necessary.

“However, it will be most appreciated if we could have constructive engagements that aim to build and contribute to the wellbeing of our country. To shout at president Ramaphosa from the roof tops does not in any shape or form aid any of these endeavours.”

All the former presidents know how to get hold of Ramaphosa, he said.

Defending Ramaphosa’s performance in office, Magwenya said there were notable achievements under his administration which included addressing the unemployment and energy crisis.

He said when Ramaphosa came into office he inherited “a state crippled through corruption, state capture and a stagnant economy”.

This, he said, was further marred by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, increasing unemployment and poverty levels.

Despite all the challenges, Magwenya said Ramaphosa’s efforts “raised R1.14-trillion in new investment commitments through four SA investment conferences.”

Ramaphosa’s government, he said, also invested around R15bn in black industrialist businesses.

He said Ramaphosa “established the infrastructure fund as a blended finance facility for Infrastructure SA to co-ordinate a massive public infrastructure build. To date, 34 out of 50 strategic infrastructure projects are in implementation stages, accounting for R281bn of a total budget of R340bn”.

Magwenya said the president established the youth employment services with the private sector which has created more than 86,500 work experiences for young people and more than 1-million jobs through the presidential employment stimulus programme.

He said Operation Vulindlela has led to far-reaching reforms in the presidency and the National Treasury.

Magwenya said Ramaphosa’s government introduced the national minimum wage and expanded social grants to more than 11-million beneficiaries.

He also counted the National Student Financial Aid Scheme as one of Ramaphosa’s achievements.

On Ramaphosa’s relationship with Mbeki, Magwenya said, “as far as president Ramaphosa is concerned, they have a very healthy relationship” with Mbeki having a direct line to the president.

“President Ramaphosa values opportunities where he engages with former president Mbeki.”

On Zuma’s comments, Magwenya said on Saturday Ramaphosa and his team were occupied with finalising the president’s response to parliament on the state capture inquiry report.

“We did not have that much time to engage over the press conference, and on Sunday we were busy with preparations for the address to the nation so the president has been occupied by pressing matters in this regard.”

Magwenya said Zuma also enjoyed an open line to Ramaphosa and can reach out with his concerns and ideas at any time he deemed appropriate.


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