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Ramaphosa to incoming ANC councillors: ‘We are going to cook you’

ANC president wants ‘fit and proper’ councillors who people want to see

27 September 2021 - 07:57
President Cyril Ramaphosa on the campaign trail in Soweto.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on the campaign trail in Soweto.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa wants his party’s young councillor candidates to emulate Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s selflessness and his own spirit when he agreed to lead mineworkers as a 30-year-old in 1982.

Speaking at an impromptu candidate preview event at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, Ramaphosa said the party leadership will make sure its councillors, especially the youth, embody ethical servant leadership and are fit and proper for public office.

“We are going to cook you. We will cook you so you become the fit and proper councillors our people want to see,” he said.

The ANC revealed last week that at least a quarter of the more than 10,000 candidates it registered are young people, with the youngest candidate 20 years old.

Sixteen of them were present at Ramaphosa’s event on Sunday night.

He called on them, and other young candidates, to honour the principle of selfless service to which the late Madikizela-Mandela dedicated her life.

Sunday marked the 85th anniversary of Madikizela-Mandela’s birth.

“The hopes and aspirations of people in communities across SA rest with these candidates we have before us as well as the thousands of others across the length and the breadth of our country.

“We all have high expectations of them,” said Ramaphosa.

He said they expected candidates to display leadership as they go out to convince voters to vote for the ANC, and as they inspire the party’s volunteers through the example of hard work, discipline and dedication.

Ramaphosa said young people should take a leaf from his book when he was elected to lead mineworkers in the early 1980s at the age of 30.

“I envy you for where you are,” he said.

“I was a mere 30-year-old when I was asked to lead mineworkers, much older people than me who had worked on the mines for years. It was an honour and privilege to serve the hundreds of thousands of mineworkers in our country.

“And as I look at you today, it rekindles that spirit I felt in 1982 when I was asked to become the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers,” he said.

“When I was elected by those mineworkers and today, I would like you to be filled with that sense of honour and privilege as you go out to represent our people,” Ramaphosa said.

He described as a phenomenal achievement for the ANC and the country the fact that the party could get young candidates in this day and age when many young people were moving away from political engagement and activity.

He was optimistic the young candidates will bring greater energy and innovation to local government as the third tier of government and will bring in a far deeper understanding of the needs of young people.

Ramaphosa said it was also significant that more than 90% of people who recently registered to vote were young people who were registering as first time voters and a number were under the age of 30.

“We commend the young people of our country for making this important patriotic act by investing in the future of a better running of our communities and of our democracy,” he said.

He urged ANC candidates to listen to the people and engage with their problems.

“Above everything else, we would like you to respect our people, to pay due respect to them because they come first and you come last.

“Never think you come first, never think you are better than they are and never think you are better educated than they are,” he said.

He also cautioned them against making empty promises, but to rather work together with the people to find lasting solutions.

“You should be the embodiment of ethical servant leadership, fight against corruption and mismanagement, and continually improve the functioning of local government. You should be the best councillors our nation has seen,” he said.