President Cyril Ramaphosa was met with pomp and ceremony in the United Kingdom as the first world leader received by the new King Charles III. Few in the world can replicate how the Brits pull out the stops when it comes to state visits. There were 1,000 soldiers in a parade, inspection of the guard, a ride in a state carriage, a state banquet with tiaras, a meeting with the Prime Minister, and an address to the Houses of Parliament. Before the meeting he met South Africans at the High Commission on Trafalgar Square in London. Geoff Johnson, the founder of Nedbank’s Charity Golf Day, was one of the SA expats invited and reported that Ramaphosa had admitted that Eskom had failed, and that South Africa has “got to move to more natural resources”. Johnson gave BizNews his impression of the reception of Mr Ramaphosa in London and why he, as a life-long supporter of the ANC, is confident that Ramaphosa is the leader who can accelerate reform. He said if Ramaphosa got the mandate to rule for another term, “he will proceed with more vigour”. – Linda van Tilburg
Every step that Ramaphosa took forward, there were three people taking four steps back
The president arrived and there were about 200 plus people and he’s very eloquent, he’s very well-spoken. He’s measured in his delivery. And I, as always, was very impressed. He did touch on a few tricky things, such as corruption and he made it quite clear that was on his agenda to tackle this head-on. My personal opinion is that, and let’s hope he gets a really strong mandate to be reinstated as chairman of the ANC in the conference in December because I think then he knows he’s got five years and he can actually, in my opinion, be a little risky and start getting these guys in front of courts, because I think South Africa still has a very strong judiciary. No one’s going to overcome that.
I don’t think President Ramaphosa realised when he took office how difficult it is to get any decision-making done. In my opinion, he’s come across obstacles, which he didn’t think were there and he knows every step he took forward, there were three people taking four steps backwards and challenging him all the time because they all had their hands in the till. But I think if he does get a strong mandate, he will go forward with a lot more vigour and a lot more positivity to try and tackle these things. I think he’s put in place a pretty good national NPA, which was corrupt under Zuma. But I honestly believe he will have the wherewithal to tackle these problems in 2023 and beyond.
Ramaphosa admits: on Eskom we failed
With regard to Eskom, he was completely open and he said, we have failed, Eskom has failed. It cannot continue with coal production, a fossil fuel and we have got to move on to more sustainable energy, particularly with the natural resources of air, water and wind that South Africa has. That to me also seems positive. Now the skeptics say, “Oh, it’s all just words, words, which we’ve heard before”. As I said previously, maybe it’s because of the restrictions he’s been living under for the last five years or let’s just say four years. So, I’m still very optimistic. I’m positive. I think overall Cyril Ramaphosa is a good man, and I think he’s a fine leader.
ANC should engage with the DA and Action SA, not the EFF
I would not like to see any form of ANC-EFF collaboration. I think that would be a bad thing. I would actually like to see more engagement with the DA and Action SA because of the calibre of individuals within those establishments. But you know what – politics is sometimes dirty and horrible. You sort of wish they could get the good people from all the parties together. It doesn’t happen like that, sadly.
[The Government of National Unity] was, to me, something that we lost out on enormously. The government of national unity, in my mind, was enormously successful because they all had an agenda. The agenda was very simple. South Africa has to change; South Africa has to improve. That was under Nelson Mandela and I must say also, F.W. de Klerk, I think what he brought to the party at the time was substantial.
The British Royal Family’s favourable attitude towards South Africa
I was very, very fortunate to meet Queen Elizabeth way back in 2010 and the love she has for South Africa was unbelievable. And again, maybe this is totally wrong; I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she said to Charles at some stage, I want to see another state visit. You know, every single premier, with the exception of Motlanthe, has been accorded a state visit. You can’t say that for all countries. We are possibly the only modern country in the last 30 years where every one of our presidents has been accorded a state visit. So, I think it goes back to them and then Charles himself … and remember also Prince William has a very strong affiliation with the work that he does, the charity work in South Africa. So, I think the royal family by and large are very favourable towards South Africa.