Ramaphosa roasted after ‘tone-deaf’ Eskom letter

President Cyril Ramaphosa, 22 August 2019. Picture: Gallo Images

The president visited Medupi for the first time, calling it a ‘fitting symbol of the importance of our state-owned enterprises’.

This week’s edition of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s weekly letters to the nation, “From the Desk of the President”, has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many, based on the reactions on social media.

In the letter, Ramaphosa calls power station Medupi “a fitting symbol of the importance of our state-owned enterprises”.

“Despite the depth of current challenges, none of our SOEs is lost. They can all be saved. But it will take extraordinary effort and, in some cases, tough decisions,” the president writes.

Harsh criticism online came from people including journalists Ferial Haffajee, Ray Mahlaka, and Erin Bates, political analyst Daniel Silke, and activist Zackie Achmat.

Both Mahlaka and Bates described the president’s letter as “tone-deaf”.

“The number one citizen gloating about a serially late and budget-blowing Medupi Power Station. Gloating about a looting scheme,” Mahlaka tweeted.

“No mention of how his administration plans to yank the country out of darkness in the interim. So tone-deaf [and] out of touch with reality,” he added.

As part of a long thread, Bates responded to the president calling Medupi a fitting symbol of SA state-owned enterprises.

“Medupi is, in another argument, a ‘fitting symbol’ of poor governance and mega-projects.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa insists that all SA’s parastatals can be saved

“Construction began 12 years ago, the plant is still incomplete and earlier this year, [Eskom’s] Jabu Mabuza said the final cost is anticipated to be R18 billion”.

Later in the thread, she asks: “Was the desk of the president well-lit while he was writing? Meanwhile [load shedding] is ongoing and doesn’t get so much as a mention.”

According to Haffajee: “Medupi is a ‘fitting symbol’ Fo sho. Late. Expensive. Strike prone. Effed up.”

“We want to know what is wrong with [Eskom] now and how it will be fixed Mr President,” tweeted Achmat.

“You don’t need to worry about the delivery of most expensive useless and corrupt present. Father Christmas will place under a tree. He will bring Medupi one day.”

Silke, meanwhile, reacted to Ramaphosa saying in the letter that he was struck by Medupi’s “massive size”.

“What would strike one about [Medupi] is precisely how massive it is – a massively over-budget, non-performing installation massively damaging the [SA economy] – that’s how massive it is,” he tweeted.

Several Twitter users also reacted to Ramaphosa saying it was his first visit to Medupi, questioning why he hadn’t visited before as deputy president, president, or as the person appointed by former president Jacob Zuma to oversee the turnaround of three state-owned enterprises, including Eskom, in 2014.

Read the president’s letter here.

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