Cape farmers declare Cyril Ramaphosa their ‘anointed’ leader
Large-scale farmers operating huge vineyards in the Cape winelands and other commercial farms have expressed confidence in the leadership of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, with some even saying he was chosen by God to lead.
The farmers expressed these sentiments during a public meeting with Ramaphosa lasting almost three hours on Tuesday at the Beyerskloof Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.
ANC figures in the Western Cape said the meeting took place at the request of the big producers behind leading brands such as Kanonkop and Simonsig wines and Morgan beef, among others.
At the outset of the meeting, which took the form of a question-and-answer session, the farmers declared their love for Ramaphosa and even went biblical in their declaration of support for the ANC president.
"The Bible says presidents and kings are appointed by the Lord. Mr President, you're also anointed ... David in the Bible was first anointed and then he was appointed, then he wrote the psalms. Mr President, I know that you're going to write a lot of psalms for South Africa and it's going to be a lot of excellent psalms," said Beyerskloof owner and programme director Beyers Truter, who later told TimesLIVE that he would be voting for the ANC on May 8.
Another prominent farmer, Chris Steenkamp, also showered Ramaphosa with praise. "We like you, we trust you and we respect you," he told the president.
Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool, who is the ANC elections chief in the province, also said that Ramaphosa had been anointed to lead.
But other farmers raised serious issues affecting their businesses - including government red tape that sees it taking years to approve business expansion plans, and the National Ports Authority's apparent failure to provide security of tenure to companies renting buildings at Cape Town habour.
Commercial farmers lobbied Ramaphosa to introduce initiatives to support wine exporters to create more jobs in an industry that employs around 300,000 people.
If you ever wanted someone who is serious about performance, you are looking at that person right now.President Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa said if re-elected into office after the May 8 elections, he would see to it that government red tape was reduced. "I want the bureaucratic process to be cut by 50%. If it's 30 days, it should be reduced to 15 days," he said.
"Red tape puts the brakes to the very wheels of our economy.
"Quite often, there's reason why they should take so long. It's often because sometimes people want something from under the table," he added.
Ramaphosa asked the farmers to trust him with their vote, saying he was an action-oriented man who would strictly manage the performance of the cabinet ministers he appoints after the election. "If you ever wanted someone who is serious about performance, you are looking at that person right now," he said.
He told the farmers not to fear the country's land-reform programme, saying the constitution compelled government to protect the interests of all citizens. "The land-reform process is something we must never fear. The constitution endears us to ensure that there's security of tenure for everyone," he said.