Sona debate wrap: Ramaphosa takes aim at GBV, apartheid; stays firm on Eskom

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the debate on his State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered last week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to the State of the Nation debate in Parliament on 20 February 2020. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that taking Eskom off life support would plunge the country and the economy into chaos.

The president rejected calls from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to pull the plug on Eskom.

Responding to debate on his State of the Nation Address (Sona), Ramaphosa said the government had a plan to put Eskom on the path to recovery.

Ramaphosa also used his reply to emphatically state that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity – and that to deny this, is tantamount to treason.

He did not refer by name to former President FW de Klerk, who has since apologised and withdrawn a statement by his foundation that apartheid wasn’t a crime against humanity and that saying so was Soviet propaganda.

Ramaphosa showed statesmanship in Parliament on Thursday, extending an olive branch to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and reining in his own MPs over wife-beating allegations.

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He also made his views on apartheid crystal clear, speaking for the first time after the outcry sparked by De Klerk.

“Apartheid was so immoral in its conception, and so devastating in its execution, that there is no South African living today who is not touched by its legacy. I would even go on to say that to deny this, in my view, is treasonous,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa reiterated the government’s support for changing the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

“The lack of land is – alongside the lack of skills – one of the greatest impediments to growth and prosperity,” he said.

He acknowledged the African National Congress (ANC) government erred in the past by giving people land without proper training or support.

“This time round, they will get adequate support, so that they can work the land.”

WATCH: Malema leaves Parliament after heated debate