Thu. Jul 18th, 2019

ANC Siyanqoba Rally: Ramaphosa admits ‘yes, we have made mistakes’

Ramaphosa ANC Siyanqoba RallyThe ANC’s final push at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.

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The ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final election
campaign rally, dubbed Siyanqoba, at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg on
Sunday.

As a wave of palpable excitement sweeps over South Africa in
preparation for, what is being touted as, the most fiercely fought general election
since the dawn of democracy, major political party campaigns are entering a
final climatic phase.

ANC Siyanqoba Rally

This is exemplified by grandiose stadium rallies, whereby ardent supporters, donning political flags and party colours, pack the rafters in a tangible show of force. The ANC, which has had a particularly treacherous time on the campaign trail, painted Ellis Park Stadium, black, green and gold under the banner of Siyanqoba – ‘to conquer’.

The limelight, however, was not exclusively afforded to the ruling party. Less than 20 kilometres away, at the Orlando Stadium, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by Julius Malema, called the Red Berets to action. Under the banner of Tshela Thupa, the EFF held its final rally on the same day as the Siyanqoba event, making Johannesburg a hive of profound political activity.

Gauteng ANC chairperson, David Makhura, announced that 1800 busses were being used to transport supporters to the Siyanqoba rally. The final headcount exceeded 70 000, with Ellis Park’s pews packed to capacity.

Shortly after midday, President Cyril Ramaphosa, flanked by his top-six executives, took to the stage amid deafening roars from the eager crowd and the ANC’s motorbike brigade. During his address, Ramaphosa made an impassioned plea to the electorate in attendance, urging supporters to make their mark for the ANC on both the national and provincial ballot.

‘We have heard them speak’

Ramaphosa’s address focused on the intense campaign trail and
public concerns voiced during door-to-door events. Since the beginning of the
year, the ANC’s leadership has blazed a trail throughout the land. While the
campaign has not been free of controversy and criticism, Ramaphosa explained
that the voices of ordinary South Africans – most of whom are embattled and disillusioned
– have been heard and understood. Ramaphosa said:

“This is the message that our people gave us as we criss-crossed the country – from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha in the south to Musina and Thohoyandou in the north, from Ngwavuma and KwaMashu and Mthatha in the east to Mahikeng…

We have met with workers in factories, on farms and in mines.

We have met with artisans, shop assistants, teachers, nurses, students, artists and pensioners. We have met business people, professionals, farmers…

We have met people whose lives have been transformed over the last 25 years of democracy.

But we have also met people without work, without proper shelter, without a high school education, without running water or decent sanitation.

We have heard them speak with many voices of their aspirations, their concerns and their frustrations.

And we have heard them speak with one voice about the country they love and the united and fair nation they want to live in.”

Ramaphosa added that in the last 25 years of ANC rule, massive inroads had been made into improving the socioeconomic condition of South Africa. The President pointed to the construction of homes, the creation of jobs and improved access to education.

The ANC has made mistakes

While the bulk of Ramaphosa’s speech focused on socioeconomic improvements spearheaded by the ANC, the president admitted that the ANC was not perfect and that it had made mistakes. These mistakes, ostensibly, include rampant corruption and state capture which embattled the country during the term of former president Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa, himself, has come under heavy fire for failing to mitigate the scourge of corruption, especially during his tenure as deputy president. Ramaphosa said:

“Where we have been found wanting, we accept the criticism that is being levelled against us. Where we have made mistakes, we are humble enough to acknowledge the mistakes without any qualification.

We admit that we have made mistakes. We put ourselves before our people and say ‘yes, we have made mistakes’. But it is only those who do nothing that do not make mistakes.”

Ramaphosa on boosting South Africa’s economy

As a consummate businessman, Ramaphosa’s presidential focus
has been largely centred upon securing foreign investment. During his Siyanqoba
address, Ramaphosa reiterated his commitment to securing R1.4 trillion in new
investment over the next five years. Ramaphosa explained:

“It has never been done before in this country.

But we are determined to achieve it, because it is through this investment that we will build the factories, mines, call centres, farms and refineries that will create jobs for our people.”

Ramaphosa noted that direct investment, unhindered by policy uncertainty, would lead to much-needed job creation. The president added that the secret to socioeconomic success, within the South African context, rests with small businesses and entrepreneurship, saying:

“It is through the expansion of our small business incubation programme and through greater financial support for small business that we will build a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

President promises an end to corruption and state capture

The issue of unmitigated malfeasance, perpetrated by officials
operating under the banner of the ANC, has greatly damaged the party’s public
image. The scourge of state capture has, in addition to pillaging the state’s
coffers, caused a vicious divide within the ruling party. Ramaphosa, preaching
unity and renewal, reiterated his promise to defeat corruption and impose practical
accountability, saying:

“Let us declare, here and now, that we will never surrender our freedom to corruption and state capture.

We will fight with every means at our disposal to ensure that those who occupy positions of authority serve only the public interest.

We are determined that those found guilty of corruption or involvement in state capture will not be allowed to occupy positions of responsibility, either in the ANC, in Parliament or in government.

The era of impunity is over. We are now entering the era of accountability. We are now entering the era of consequence.”

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