Soweto shows up for Ramaphosa as he asks for a fresh mandate
15 March 2019
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign stop in Soweto, where he was born and raised, painted parts of the historic township green, black and gold. Residents screamed "now is the time" as he asked them to give his party a strong mandate to continue leading the country when citizens vote in the national elections in two months' time.
Ramaphosa, who started his programme for the day in Orlando, was uncharacteristically late and residents waited in the blazing sun for a chance to participate in his "Thuma Mina" walk. Thousands more gathered for a mini-rally at Thokoza Park and hundreds more at the Riverlea Empowerment Centre for a sectorial discussion.
The president, who looked wearier with every stop, admitted to those who attend the mini-rally in Thokoza Park that the ANC had made plenty of mistakes in its 25 years at the helm, however, "you find that we have made many more successes than the mistakes that we have made".
"We have changed the future of our country, we have changed the lives of our people," continued the ANC president.
Ramaphosa, who was joined by an excited David Makhura – Gauteng premier and provincial ANC chairperson –said the ANC wanted to inject more money into Soweto, lauding the premier for his township economy initiative.
"Soweto must no longer be a place we go to sleep only, it must also be a place where we do business and have small to medium enterprises," said Ramaphosa.
During his dialogue in Riverlea, which is mostly occupied by coloured people, the community's long-documented concerns of feeling marginalised by a mainly black governing party were raised.
Ramaphosa said he was concerned that some groups continued to feel excluded in a democratic South Africa.
"We are also saying we want inclusiveness. We were all excluded in the past, treated as nothing, non-entities, we were oppressed and struggled together to feel included," he said.
Ramaphosa told those in attendance, including residents from other coloured areas in the South such as Ennerdale, Westbury and Eldorado Park, that they had the right to express their feelings about being left out and the country should respond to that grievance quickly.
"As president of the ANC and of the country, I take this to heart and seriously," he said, committing to making the issue a priority going forward.