Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa engaged a largely Muslim audience in Durban recently, and many were wooed by his address, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who is vying to become President in next year’s general elections, swept into Durban last Sunday to engage with a largely Muslim audience and got many people reassured about SA’s political future..
Ramaphosa made all the right noises, and many in the audience congratulated him and supported his decision to become a candidate for the presidency.
Speaking at a South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) event at the
Mansfield Hall, DUT Campus, he drew a sizeable crowd that included a proportionately large Muslim audience, including people of other faiths.
In his opening speech, however, Ramaphosa spoke about many things, including how he admired the discipline of the Muslim community during Ramadaan and how he sometimes kept fasts in order to be part of the experience. He also expressed his respect and admiration for activists such as Dr. Yusuf Dadoo and Ahmed Kathrada and the role they played in fighting apartheid.
During the question and answer session, many questions were raised about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about the need to tackle corruption, the issue of empowering small and medium sized businesses, and rising Islamophobia. His answers were notably great and many nodded approvingly.
However, a question by Lubna Nadvi, an academic and Palestinian activist, appeared to rattle Ramaphosa. “When is the South African Government shutting down the Israeli Embassy in South Africa? she asked.
Ramaphosa seemed to fumbled for an answer. “I was hoping that no one would ask me that question…please don’t ask me that question…”
Lubna, an executive of the Palestinian Solidarity Forum (KZN) said the deputy president followed up by saying: “There’s a thing called statecraft…”
He went on to say that the general principle of the ANC relating to the Palestine struggle would continue under his leadership.
“He also mentioned something about “taking various factors into account’, but the rest of his answer was somewhat vague.
“I anticipated that he would not be able to answer my question directly, given that he represents both the ANC and the SA government and the latter has a complicated stance on the state of Israel”, Nadvi added.
Chairperson of SAMNET, Dr Faisal Suliman who introduced Ramaphosa said South Africa was yearning for leadership that would put the interests of all South Africans first, and ensure that corruption was weeded out.
Suliman emphasized that South Africans needed a leader who would inspire all citizens to work towards getting the country out of the “malaise and rot” that has infected the national psyche. He further spoke about the need for the “sharing of resources and skills to ensure that all South Africans benefitted from the democratic dividend”.
He pointed out the concerns of the Muslims community “about the war on terror being imported to the shores of South Africa”, and about the possibility of false flag operations being planted here.
In his closing remarks, Suliman urged faith groups and civil society to lobby their constituencies to give back to society and help build “the kind of SA we would like to see”.
Speaking at a dinner hosted by Younus Moosa at St James Hotel, Ramaphosa answered questions about transforming the economy and radically overhauling SA’s education system. Asked about the possibility of an African Spring in SA he said that this was taken into account when the government engages in risk analysis. He pointed out that addressing youth unemployment would be ciritical in order to avoid an African Spring.
Asked whether Ramaphosa would give fresh hope to weary South Africans, Imraan Buccus, a political analyst, told Al Qalam that Ramaphosa certainly has the right credentials for the job.
“His camp’s argument that he is the anointed one is no stronger than those pushing for a woman president in Dlamini-Zuma. He is an immensely talented man who cut his teeth in the trade union movement, marched in the mass democratic movement and breathed life into our remarkable constitution. He has also the right credentials for the job save that, he too, finds himself in the straitjacket of chasing power rather than making a case for governance. Ramaphosa has said a great deal about what is wrong in the country.
“He has correctly focused on corruption but has not capitalised on the governance opening that it has created. He should be putting forward an agenda that says that the ANC continuing on its current trajectory is sure to lead to its demise and that a fresh vision of governance is what the country requires. For as long as he is singled-minded about the grip on power as opposed to governance, there is nothing that sets him apart from the rest.”