Going The Ramaphosa Way

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In a move rare amongst African leaders, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that he would donate half of his salary to charity. Speaking in the parliament on Wednesday, Mr Ramaphosa said he would make the donation from his $290,000 yearly salary in honour of Nelson Mandela, the South African former President and anti-apartheid icon.

The President called on other leaders to make such a sacrifice to help the poor, even if it is not with money. According to Mr Ramaphosa, the donations would be managed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The fund will be launched to coincide with the 100th birthday of former President Mandela the country’s first black leader, who would have been 100 years later this year.

“In memory of Madiba, in recognition of the great sacrifices he made and his tireless commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable, there is something that many of us can do. We are looking for people with skills, time and commitment to ‘lend a hand’ to these community-based projects through mentoring, training and capacity building. In this way, we aim to provide South Africans with a tangible opportunity, with a significant impact, to be an integral part of the fight against poverty.” President Cyril Ramaphosa explained.

Since he took over from Jacob Zuma in December, the billionaire President Ramaphosa has taken some steps to assure both South Africans and the international community in general, that the country is indeed a decent country, ready to take back its lost glory after the scandal-full government of President Jacob Zuma. President Ramaphosa has vowed to tackle corruption, an issue synonymous with the Zuma’s tenure; as well restore investors’ confidence. The arrest of the high profile – and some would say, untouchable – individuals like the Gupta Family, has shown clearly that President Ramaphosa indeed means business.

Opponents have argued that President Ramaphosa is just playing some political chess games to boost his profile and election chances in view of the upcoming national election in 2019. Perhaps, the election elements might be part of the reason behind Ramaphosa’s donation, however, a mere  $145,000 yearly donation is obviously not a big financial headache for a multi-billionaire of Mr Ramaphosa’s calibre. Regardless, such a selfless move by other African leaders will not be in a wrong direction at all. An average African wants to see some personal commitment from their leaders, especially in relations to the problems facing the masses.

Let us give Mr Ramaphosa the benefit of the doubts that he meant well. If after the elections in 2019 he happens to change and abandon his people, who voted for him, like many African leaders do, South Africans have the mandate to show their anger and disapproval in the next ballot box. The choice is Mr Ramaphosa’s – and indeed, that of other African leaders.