Ramaphosa makes peace with Malema over gender-based violence comments

President Cyril Ramaphosa wrapped up the debate on his State of the Nation address (Sona) with a conciliatory gesture to Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.

The president’s address to the nation last week, and the two-day debate that followed, often descended into chaos and mudslinging, as MPs used allegations of gender-based violence and personal potshots to undermine each other.  

During the State of the Nation address, ANC MP Boy Mamabolo heckled Malema on whether he had ever assaulted his wife, Mantoa Malema. 

Malema stood and made an allegation, but before that, an allegation was made against him by a member of the ANC. And as that allegation was made I felt for Mantoa, your wife. It was improper and incorrect to be raised. And if I can offer an apology to you about this, I would like to because it was uncalled for

President Cyril Ramaphosa

During Malema’s response to Ramaphosa’s address on Tuesday, he denied the allegations and turned the tables, asking whether rumours that the president had abused his late former wife, Hope, are true. 

Malema was ordered to withdraw the remarks and instructed to leave the chamber by National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo.


Apology to Malema

But in his response to the debate on Thursday, Ramaphosa apologised to Malema on behalf of his ANC colleague.

“Malema stood and made an allegation, but before that, an allegation was made against him by a member of the ANC. And as that allegation was made I felt for Mantoa, your wife. It was improper and incorrect to be raised. And if I can offer an apology to you about this, I would like to because it was uncalled for,” Ramaphosa said directly to Malema. 

Ramaphosa also denied Malema’s allegations that he had abused his former wife. 

“[Malema] raised it in 2017, [saying] the president used to assault his first wife, Hope. Hope Ramaphosa responded and said it is not true … We should not resort to issues like this as it was used against you, to politicise and trivialise an important issue [ gender-based violence],” Ramaphosa said.

Despite the personal point-scoring, Ramaphosa thanked MPs for their “vigorous debate”.

For two days opposition parties lambasted the president’s record of failing to turn around rising unemployment numbers, an electricity-supply crisis and a sluggish economy. 

Constructive discussions

But Ramaphosa said, on the whole, the discussions had been constructive. 

“The debate has demonstrated the diversity of views and experiences as people expressed themselves. It has demonstrated the divisions of our land and our body politic. But no matter how fiercely we debate, we remain united in our desire for a better future for all. And that I find heartening,” he said. 

The president, in his second year as head of state, said his government is laying a foundation for future prosperity

“Inclusive growth is about changing people’s lives for the better. While we can use economic jargon and track metrics like GDP [gross domestic product] growth, debt ratios and levels of gross fixed investment, the most important measure of our progress is the impact these efforts should have on the lives of South Africans, especially the poor.”

Ramaphosa responded to the Democratic Alliance’s utterances that he had missed an opportunity to announce the privatisation of Eskom. He said this would not happen. 

“Switching off Eskom’s life support would be plunging our country into chaos and darkness. We have a clear road map to restore Eskom’s financial and operational position and to place our entire energy sector on a new trajectory of sustainability,” Ramaphosa said. 

Spirit of the Constitution

The president also added his voice to the furore over now-retracted comments by apartheid’s last president, FW De Klerk.

De Klerk had initially rejected the notion that apartheid was a crime against humanity, but later apologised and said he agreed with a United Nations resolution that apartheid was a crime.

The former president had, on several prior occasions, apologised for the oppressive system of legislated segregation. 

But, Ramaphosa said denying the cruelty of apartheid goes against the spirit and letter of the Constitution. 

“There’s no South African living today not touched by the legacy of apartheid. To deny this, in my view, is treasonous. It can be again said: apartheid was a crime against humanity. It was a crime against the oppressed people, even before it was declared by the United Nations in 1973,” he said. 


Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

Related stories

DA leader bought wife a car with ‘corruption’ earnings

Senior Ekurhuleni councillor Shabangu purchased a Ford SUV from an alleged R1.2-million kickback

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court hears

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

CR17 report is not perfect, but the investigation was rational, court hears

So says public protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s lawyer, who said she had reason to suspect the money was being laundered through the campaign

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

DRC: Tshisekedi and Kabila fall out

The country’s governing coalition is under strain, which could lead to even more acrimony ahead

Editorial: Crocodile tears from the coalface

Pumping limited resources into a project that is predominantly meant to extend dirty coal energy in South Africa is not what local communities and the climate needs.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Nehawu leaders are ‘betraying us’

The accusation by a branch of the union comes after it withdrew from a parliamentary process
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…