Ramaphosa on second term: 'Stick around, you may see this movie again'
President Cyril Ramaphosa was reluctant to talk about whether he would run for another term as ANC and South Africa's president in 2024, but he was less bashful in rating his best qualities as a leader: strength, hard work and the ability to build consensus without shouting at people.
Ramaphosa was speaking to journalists on Tuesday in parliament, where he touched on current affairs, unpacked his state of the nation address and fielded wide-ranging questions.
“I rate myself very well, I do. I am a hard worker, I really am a hard worker,” he said when a journalist asked him to rate his performance since taking office two years ago - and whether he would seek another term of office.
“I have dedicated myself to doing everything I can to execute my mandate. Some of the things I've had to do may have shocked you, but the one thing that I have sought to do is to continue my hard work rate, because I work hard - I am not lazy.
“I build consensus. Some people would like me to be a dictator and it is not in my makeup to be a dictator. I've never been and I've built and led a number of organisations without being a dictator, working very well with people and making them feel worthwhile and worthy to work in an organisation and respecting the capability of people - not give in to shouting and screaming at people and so on. That is my style,” he said.
The president observed that some people had labelled him a "weak" president who won't agree to the dismissal of workers at Eskom.
“I said if that defines me as a weak president, that is fine. Because when we deal with the issue of unemployment and ... people losing their jobs, we have got to try as many solutions as possible.
"If not firing people defines me in that way, that's fine. I will continue doing the work that I have to do."
Ramaphosa was not as forthcoming, however, when asked if he would seek another term as leader in 2024, saying he was elected by a collective at a conference which later put him to lead as the president of the republic. He said the same thing may happen again in 2024.
“Stick around - you may see this movie again,” he joked.
The president's engagement with journalists came just hours after GDP growth figures released by Statistics SA showed that the country has slipped into a technical recession, with the economy contracting by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2019, following a contraction of 0.8% in the third quarter.
ANC must take some responsibility for technical recession
Ramaphosa said the poor growth figures should not have come as a surprise because the signs were there.
“The drivers to this lack of growth and this technical recession we are in have been there for all of us to see: the load-shedding and the impact that it has had on production, both at manufacturing level and with trade.”
He noted that the greatest slump was in agriculture, which could be ascribed to the drought experienced in many parts of the country. With business and consumer confidence also negatively affected, these factors all contributed to the negative growth.