South Africa will “never, never again” go through what it experienced in the last decade, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed on Wednesday.
“What we are saying is never never never again must SA go through what we have went through … Where there is malfeasance … Our people hate corruption… We learnt our lesson, we are now going to steam ahead.”
Ramaphosa was speaking to journalists at the Hitekani Primary School in Soweto, after casting his vote.
The ANC is fighting its toughest national election yet after a decade characterised by corruption and state capture under former president Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa is widely seen as a reformist, but doubt has been cast on his ability to change the governing party given his narrow victory over the Zuma faction in Nasrec in 2017. Ramaphosa’s allies believe he needs a strong electoral mandate to accelerate the change agenda which began when he first took office last year.
Ramaphosa said the ANC had acknowledged its mistakes, and has apologised to the people. He said the party realised that it began deviating. “We now know why we didn’t fill the glass because we started deviating. Corruption and patronage got in the way. We now know what our weaknesses are.”
But he was in a jovial mood as he exited the polling station in the middle of a throng of supporters who turned up to see him, most undeterred by the thunder clouds threatening a downpour.
Ramaphosa said he will build a great country, “standing on the shoulders of our people”, describing the sixth election as a “rocket booster for democracy”.
A seemingly well-rested Ramaphosa, who said he will sleep as well tonight as he had last night, was speaking after casting his vote at the Hitekani Primary School in Soweto.
“So this vote is about confidence. The future, and it is about us who are going to be elected to work a lot harder much harder than we have in the past to realise the ideals the wishes and hopes of our people,” he said.
“So this for me is like a rocket booster for democracy and we are going to build a great country because we will be doing so standing on the shoulders of our people
“The people who are all standing here. I’m going to climb and stand on their shoulders so that I can do exactly what they would like us to do. This for me is fantastic.”
Ramaphosa said he was excited and confident at energetic mood, which he likened to the first democratic election in 1994.
“They can see with their votes they are heralding a new dawn. A period of renewal and it’s also a period of hope. The confidence emitted by our people is just amazing.”
“This is a vote that reminds us of ‘94 because in ‘94 our people were just as excited as this because they were heralding a new period a new future for our country and today this is what I am also picking up.”