Ramaphosa called out for ‘incorrect’, ‘misleading’ claims in January 8 speech

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Ohlange Institute to pay homage and lay a wreath on the grave of ANC founding member Dr John Dube at Inanda, Durban, 8 January 2019. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Ohlange Institute to pay homage and lay a wreath on the grave of ANC founding member Dr John Dube at Inanda, Durban, 8 January 2019. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ African News Agency (ANA)

Two of the president’s claims have been found to be ‘misleading’, while one was found to be entirely incorrect.

AfricaCheck has done a fact check looking at some of the claims made by President Cyril Ramaphosa at his recent January 8 speech at the Ohlange Institute in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal.

While five of the eight claims checked were found to be either “correct” or “mostly correct”, Ramaphosa’s other claims did not withstand scrutiny, with one declared “incorrect” and two declared misleading.

AfricaCheck, billed as “Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation”, found that Ramaphosa’s claim that the South African economy has tripled in size over the last 25 years was misleading, as it was based on World Bank rates for the country’s “nominal” GDP, which Economics professor Jannie Rossouw said would result in “completely distorted figures”.

Similarly, Ramaphosa’s claim that over seven million more people are employed today than were employed in 1994 was misleading, as it directly compares two surveys which used different methods.

READ MORE: Work experience shouldn’t be required for youth employment – Ramaphosa

The fact check also found that the claim that before 1994, only three of every ten people had electricity in the their homes was incorrect and has been debunked before.

In fairness to the president, the majority of the claims made during the speech were deemed either “correct” or “mostly correct”.

These included the claim that eight out of ten South Africans have electricity in their homes, that the average life expectancy has increased by 11 years since 2001 and the claim that more than 4.3 million in South Africa receive anti-retroviral treatment for HIV, making it the biggest programme in the world. These two claims were correct, although Ramaphosa did leave out the fact that South Africa also has the largest amount of people living with HIV in the world.

The claims that nine out of ten South Africans have clean running water and that every day South Africa feeds nine million children were found to be “mostly correct”.

The full fact check can be found here.

The January 8 speech is delivered annually by the leader of the ANC to set the tone for the year in terms of both party and government policy.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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