Ramaphosa opens up about his leadership style: ‘I’m not a dictator’

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has opened up about his leadership style and perceptions that he is a “weak” President.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session with the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) in Cape Town on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said he is a consensus builder and not a dictator.

He said, “I build consensus. Some people would like me to be a dictator, but it is not in my makeup to be a dictator. I have never been.”

Rather be seen as weak than fire Eskom workers

The President added, “I’ve built and led a number of organisations without being a dictator, working very well with people and making them feel worthwhile and worthy to work in an organisation and respecting the capability of people – not given to shouting and screaming at people and so on. That is my style.

“Some people have said, you’re a weak President because you’re not going to agree to fire the people at Eskom.

“I said, if that defines me as a weak President, that’s fine, because when we deal with the issue of unemployment, dealing with people losing their jobs, you’ve got to try and find as many solutions as possible, and if not firing people defines me in that way, that’s fine.”

In February, Eskom’s national spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the power utility has 16,000 more employees than it needs.

‘Not brave enough to take on unions’

However, he said Eskom is unable to retrench them because of a directive from the government.

Mantshantsha said, “The reality of the matter is that the last call comes from the shareholder in any organisation, and Eskom is no different.

“In this instance, the shareholder happens to be the government [which said no employees may be retrenched].”

During the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate, Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen accused Ramaphosa of not being “brave enough to take on the unions that hold this country to ransom.”

Steenhuisen also accused the President of being unable to stop African National Congress (ANC) leaders alleged to have been involved in state capture and corruption from occupying public positions such as portfolio committee chairpersons in Parliament.

Ramaphosa’s own position in the ANC is reportedly under question as the party gears up for its National General Council (NGC) in July.

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