Unpacking Cyril Ramaphosa's shortened trip to Egypt

10 December 2019 - 16:43 By Qaanitah Hunter
President Cyril Ramaphosa during his brief trip to Egypt, before he returned home to address mounting problems at Eskom.
President Cyril Ramaphosa during his brief trip to Egypt, before he returned home to address mounting problems at Eskom.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has left ministers Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Ayanda Dlodlo to represent him at a meeting in Egypt after he cut short his trip to that country to deal with the energy crisis at Eskom. 

Ramaphosa landed in Cairo on Tuesday morning, where he had a briefing with the South African delegation before meeting Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

He was flanked by international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor, defence and military veterans minister Mapisa-Nqakula, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, state security minister Dlodlo and tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

A number of his advisers also accompanied him on the trip, which he was criticised for taking, given the mounting problems at Eskom

Ramaphosa met El-Sisi for bilateral talks that he described as “frank and open”, covering a range of bilateral, continental and global issues.

“We noted increased economic co-operation and trade relations between our two countries, which will stimulate the growing presence of South African and Egyptian companies in each other’s countries,” he said after the meeting. 

"As the two governments, we have committed ourselves to create an enabling environment to reduce the cost and improve the ease of doing business in our respective countries."

Peace and stability in Africa also came up, with Ramaphosa saying they have reaffirmed a commitment to peace and stability on the continent. 

“We have also congratulated President El-Sisi for the exemplary manner in which he has led the African Union as its chairperson,” added Ramaphosa, who takes over as chair of the AU next year. 

After the meeting with El-Sisi, Ramaphosa decided not to stay in Egypt and continue to Aswan as was planned. He was meant to participate in the inaugural Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development.

The forum is expected to host African and world leaders, policy makers, regional and international business people, members of civil society and academics to exchange views on challenges to peace, security and development, as well as opportunities.

Mapisa-Nqakula and Dlodlo will represent Ramaphosa as he heads back to meet Eskom's board. 

Ramaphosa said late on Monday that he had received an update on the situation leading to stage 6 load-shedding across the country. 

“The president has been in constant communication with the minister of public enterprises and the leadership of the electricity utility on the state of the national grid and on the work being done to address the current crisis,” said the presidency. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the presidency confirmed that Ramaphosa would meet Eskom's board and managers on Wednesday, "where he will be briefed on plans to mitigate and resolve the current electricity crisis affecting most of the country".

Ramaphosa will also visit the Eskom operations centre at its Megawatt Park headquarters in Johannesburg.

He is also expected to visit Tembisa, east of Joburg, which has been severely affected by the recent rains, leading to widespread flooding. "The president will meet local residents, community leaders and provincial officials managing the support being given to the stricken community," added the presidency.