Ramaphosa hits back at 'misguided' critics over 'super presidency' remarks

10 February 2023 - 19:07
By Kgothatso Madisa
President Cyril Ramaphosa during the annual Presidential Golf Challenge at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in Cape Town, South Africa, February 10, 2023.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER President Cyril Ramaphosa during the annual Presidential Golf Challenge at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in Cape Town, South Africa, February 10, 2023.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended as “misguided” criticism he is facing for establishing a ministry to deal solely with electricity in his office.

Ramaphosa said on Friday people who are criticising the creation of a ministry of electricity in the presidency don’t know what they are talking about.

In fact, they should be lauding him for creating the position in his office as this shows he wants to pay closer attention to the electricity crisis currently gripping the country, he said.

Ramaphosa announced during his state of the nation address on Thursday he will soon appoint a minister of electricity who will be based at his office at the Union Buildings.

This has been met with a lot of criticism, with accusations he is creating a “super presidency” by moving key state apparatus to his office.

He faced the same criticism in 2021 when he moved state security to the presidency.

“That minister will be in my office because in the end it is the responsibility people of South Africa have imposed on me and so I must have the capability to deal with it,” said Ramaphosa.

“And whatever criticism there may be it is criticism that is at the moment misguided because what we should all be focusing on is load-shedding and dealing with it. And we need the space, instruments and the capability to do that.”

Speaking at the presidential golf day on Friday, Ramaphosa said the presidency was the centre of government and there was nothing wrong with his decision.

“So there is the notion that this is a 'super presidency' or we’re creating a super presidency which is also a misunderstanding of the role that the centre of government must play,” he said.

“At one stage people said ‘we want the centre of government to be strong’ and when we do so they criticise and say ‘no you’re giving too much power to the presidency’. What the presidency has been able to do is to co-ordinate functions of government and to get a co-operative governance system and process to resolve many of our challenges. For instance, the reforms that we’ve been attending to have been driven through the presidency and Treasury and that has really benefited our country and our economy.”

Ramaphosa also laid into the DA for threatening legal action over the declaration of a state of disaster saying they were too quick to find fault.

The DA flip-flopped from being proponents of a declaration of a state of disaster to being its biggest critic once it was announced, which transport minister Fikile Mbalula referred to as “like calling for rain but complaining about mud”. 

Before Ramaphosa could leave the podium, the DA released a statement denouncing the declaration and threatening court action.

“Their criticism is misguided and it’s based — I think — on not understanding what we’re seeking to achieve. We’re seeking to address the electricity crisis by declaring a state of disaster,” said Ramaphosa.

“And it’s quite interesting that they called for a state of disaster and now that we have declared it they are opposed to it for a very strange reason that there’s going to be looting. There’s not going to be any looting,” he said.


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