/ 26 May 2024

Ramaphosa: ANC will do better if re-elected

Cyril Ramaphosa on a podium
Cyril Ramaphosa promises to do better, Delwyn Verasamy

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa made an impassioned plea to thousands of supporters in Johannesburg on Saturday to give the ruling party yet another chance, promising to do better and faster.  

“We are asking you to make a clear choice for unity and progress and to reject the social and political forces that are working hard to undermine the gains of freedom made over the last three decades … 

“We will do better, we will do more, and we will do it faster. Together,” Ramaphosa said. 

He was speaking at the party’s final Siyanqoba campaign rally held at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.   

Around 27 million registered voters are expected to cast their votes for a new government in the 29 May election which will for the first time see the inclusion of independent candidates.  

Another first for the country will be the three-ballot system which was partly necessitated by the introduction of independent candidates. Ramaphosa pleaded with supporters to mark their X next to his “handsome” face.  

“When you get there [ballot paper], look for a handsome face and vote for him, not the ugly ones. Look out for a handsome guy like me. Let’s go out there and make sure that there is one bull in the kraal. There are many who don’t want us to come back but we will show them on Wednesday.

“Let’s go and show them who we are. I have given strict instructions that Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal must give us 70% …” Ramaphosa said.  

The party is hoping to retain its majority by increasing its voter share in the more rural provinces, given that forecasts show it will lose support in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the provinces with the biggest population of registered voters.  

The two provinces are where the ANC is most vulnerable, with polls suggesting its support would probably dip below 50% — with the emergence of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, the brainchild of former president Jacob Zuma, a factor.  

At the stadium, some ANC supporters showed their antipathy to MK, carrying placards saying, “Zuma is a small boy” and “Rest in peace MK party”. Some took it as far as hoisting a coffin on which was written, “RIP Zuma.”  

Should the ANC be voted back into power, it will endeavour to implement a jobs plan to put more South Africans to work, it will build industries and invest in an inclusive economy, Ramphosa said.   

The country’s unemployment rate recently rose to 32.1%, Ramaphosa said this was evident throughout the party’s campaigns. “It was particularly painful to meet young people who are struggling to find employment. I was extremely touched by their determination to carry on, even after being disappointed time and again,” he said 

“Our jobs plan aims to address their needs. For these young people, and for the many unemployed people in the country, we will create and sustain work opportunities delivering public goods and services in communities,” Ramaphosa said.   

To tackle unemployment, Ramaphosa said the ANC would also create a conducive environment for industries that employ many people including agriculture; tourism; mining; clothing; food and beverages and steel.  

“We will also support new industries, like new energy vehicles, renewable energy and information and technology. [The ANC] will undertake a balanced just transition to a cleaner, greener future that will lead to new jobs and make our exports more competitive,” the president said. 

During his speech, Ramaphosa said, while on the campaign trail, South Africans had told him that they wanted the R350 grant increased to R700. This was greeted by loud cheers from the crowd which quickly died down when he said the government would increase it to R370 in the immediate future .

With many people still unemployed, the ANC would continue to provide income support to those who needed it the most. “We will maintain the existing social grants, which have been so important in reducing poverty and providing poor children with opportunity,” he said. 

“At the same time, we will also implement a basic income support grant for employed people based on the SRD [Social Relief of Distress] grant.”  

Ramaphosa also took a swipe at the Democratic Alliance’s controversial burning-flag advert which he said was aimed at reversing the gains of democracy. 

“We will not allow parties who yearn for the apartheid past to undermine the Constitution to protect the privileges of a few. We will not allow those who burn the flag of the democratic South Africa to reverse the achievements of our democracy,” he said.