Ramaphosa woos Indian investment, just not of the ‘funny business’ kind

President Cyril Ramaphosa with President Ram Nath Kovind greet diplo​mats at the official luncheon held at the Forecourt, Presidential Palace on the occasion of the State Visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Picture: Presidency/Twitter

President Cyril Ramaphosa with President Ram Nath Kovind greet diplo​mats at the official luncheon held at the Forecourt, Presidential Palace on the occasion of the State Visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Picture: Presidency/Twitter

Ramaphosa has assured India that SAA’s once-profitable direct flights between Johannesburg and Mumbai will be reinstated.

In an address to the Indian government and business leaders at the South Africa-India Business Forum during his state visit to the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the positive history between the two countries.

However, he took what was widely considered to be a swipe at the Indian immigrant Gupta family when he said, off the cuff, that “business people from India, excluding stuff that you may have read, have really been outstanding business people. People who come to South Africa to run businesses, not for rent-seeking purposes or to run funny businesses.”

He said South Africa and India had enjoyed a partnership that spanned over two centuries, dating as far back as the 1800s.

“Ours is a relationship embedded in the history of shared struggle and common colonial subjugation.

“This partnership is now anchored in common values and a shared vision of social and economic emancipation for all our people.

“In the two decades since the first visit to India by president Nelson Mandela, our countries have worked to transform a relationship forged in struggle into a partnership for peace and economic prosperity.”

He went on to talk about how the countries now cooperated in multilateral formations such as Brics, Ibsa, the G20 and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.

“As we enter a new era of this partnership, we should strive to forge a developmental path paved with pragmatism and a renewed sense of purpose, because the challenges we face have become greater and more complex.

“We currently have 29 South African companies invested in India and wish to double this number in the coming years.

“South African firms with a presence in India include Sanlam, Life Healthcare, Momentum, Airports Company of South Africa, First Rand Bank, Old Mutual, and Naspers, among others.

“I have brought with me, as part of my delegation, a cross-section of South African companies that are looking for new investment opportunities in India.”

During his trip, the president also said he wanted SAA to reopen its direct route to India, and wanted to know why it had been stopped in the first place.

It’s commonly understood, however, thanks to testimony from former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan that the SAA flight route to Mumbai was scrapped allegedly to favour the business interests of the Gupta family.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has expressed the view that the route was in fact stolen from South Africa.

(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)

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