Cyril on being president: ‘I wish I’d come in when economy was better’

Image credit: Facebook/The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he wished he had become President of South Africa “when the economy was better.”

Ramaphosa made the comment during an interview with The Economist magazine on Sunday.

Former President Nelson Mandela was said to have wanted Ramaphosa to succeed him. The magazine therefore asked Ramaphosa whether he wished he had ascended to the high office sooner or not.

He responded, “It’s a difficult one. It’s a tough job…being the president of South Africa at this time…I wish I had come in when the economy was better.”

Mboweni’s draft economic recovery strategy

Ramaphosa is currently in London, UK, where he will deliver a keynote address at the Financial Times Africa Summit 2019.

During his interview, he expressed support for Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s draft economic recovery strategy.

Among the suggestions contained in it is for municipalities to pay their debts to power utility Eskom. Soweto in Johannesburg reportedly owes R18 billion.

Ramaphosa recalled the struggle days when, as the leader of National Union of Mineworkers, he called for rent boycotts in townships.

However, he said, the era of boycotts is now over, “But now I’m saying the war is over, the struggle is over, we’ve now got to pay our way.”

The president was however more cautious about selling off Eskom’s power stations – one of Mboweni’s suggestions. He said he’s open to selling the old ones, but only as long as affected local communities get a “just transition.”

Where are the corruption arrests?

The Economist also asked Ramaphosa about the impatience South Africans are beginning to have over the lack of corruption arrests.

He responded that while arrests may take some time coming, the process of restoring institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) “is irrevocable.”

“Once the institutions are strengthened, they should be able to go after anybody – including the president,” he said.

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