President “sick” for duties, but can party

South Africa - Cape Town - 09 June 2022 - President Cyril Ramaphosa engages media in parliament about current issues including the break in at his farm and the foreign currency that was found .photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Cape Town - 09 June 2022 - President Cyril Ramaphosa engages media in parliament about current issues including the break in at his farm and the foreign currency that was found .photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 5, 2023


Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office yesterday would not answer questions on when he would return to duty following the ANC’s announcement that he caught a bug during his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni’s state visit this week.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said on Friday that Ramaphosa had caught the flu during Museveni’s visit. Despite the president’s illness he was pictured all smiles at a dinner at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo with Ugandan MP Wilson Kanjwengye.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, did not respond to questions on when the long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle would take place and the president’s state of well-being. The reshuffle appeared to be imminent but Magwenya earlier in the week described the rumours of Ramaphosa’s ill health as a “gross exaggeration”.

He said it was just a minor cold, which did not prevent Ramaphosa from fulfilling his duties as he met Museveni as he continued working.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and his trade, industry and competition counterpart Ebrahim Patel look set to be named MPs.

They filled the two positions Ramaphosa is allowed to name in his Cabinet who are not members of Parliament. Godongwana and Patel shot to the top of the ANC lists in the Eastern and Western Cape, respectively, according to the party’s updated list. Ousted Free State premier Sisi Ntombela has been named at the top of the Free State list.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet confirmed that Deputy President David Mabuza had resigned as an MP and was likely to be replaced by Ramaphosa’s deputy in the ANC, former Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile. Mashatile said a renewed ANC would demand accountability from its leadership and “deployees” in government. Addressing delegates at the National Union of Mineworkers’ special national congress, he urged the government to deepen the linkages between mining and other economic sectors.

”Equally, the ANC will ensure that South Africa develops and enhances legislation and the regulatory environment so that mining attracts investment and remains a pillar of the economy,” he said. According to him, the ANC’s view was that its government should place priority on implementing an intensive programme of mineral exploration.

“To ensure Eskom’s long-term financial viability, the government will take over a significant portion of the utility’s R400 billion debt. A lower debt burden will enable Eskom to implement a viable unbundling process,” he said. Responding to Ramaphosa’s alleged Phala Phala dinner party on Friday, African Transformation Movement president Vuyolwethu Zungula said it was clear that Ramaphosa was undermining and disrespecting South Africans.

“If you look at the nature of the problems we face as a country, for them to be solved they require a present president, someone that will be focused on solving those problems. “He spoke about urgently appointing a minister of electricity, that was on 9 February when he made that announcement and it seemed that it was something that had to be done urgently. We are now on the 4th of March and nothing has happened,” Zungula said.

He added it was “curious and suspicious” that Ramaphosa hosted Museveni and business people from Uganda who were there to profit from the Ankoles.

“We’ve got a president who is continuing to undermine South Africans and it’s time for South Africans to see Mr Ramaphosa for who he truly is, someone who treats the Presidency as a side hustle while his business interests are his primary concern,” Zungula said. Narend Singh, IFP chief whip in the National Assembly, said the delay in putting a Cabinet together was not good for the country and the ANC.

“It would seem that he is having internal challenges within his party to put together a Cabinet that can do justice to the people of this country and it’s not acceptable that this happens because one would have expected at least by this week a Cabinet would have been put in place so that at least there’s some certainty,” Singh said.

Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, a political analyst from UWC, said there was no debate about whether Ramaphosa had actually caught the flu as it was clear during his address to the media earlier this week during Museveni’s visit to the Union Buildings.

“On the issue of him having to further consult on the Cabinet reshuffle, that is not true because the president has consulted more than enough. After the election of the ANC’s new leadership in December he had to wait for the election of the NEC and the NWC in order for him not to take a decision before those were in place.

“The next two steps were for him to have an ANC lekgotla and the consultation with the Tripartite Alliance, which happened, and the last step was to consult with his Cabinet which he did. Right now there is no reason stopping the president from announcing the Cabinet reshuffle,” Mngomezulu said.

He said if it was true that Ramaphosa was recovering, he could be granted that, but if it was also true that he appeared at another event which was not of national importance, that was a serious issue that raised a red flag.

“That would then confirm the claim that has been made by some opposition parties that the country is on autopilot and the president is not running the affairs of the country and instead he is running his own private affairs. “That would be a serious problem for the president and it would definitely not augur well for his political stature.”