DA leader Mmusi Maimane expressed his excitement on his upcoming ‘presidential debate’ against Ramaphosa but the ANC says it will not take place.
On Tuesday, 16 April 2019, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said he was “looking forward” to debating President Cyril Ramaphosa prior to the 8 May general election. The debate was reportedly to be aired by public broadcaster SABC on 28 April 2019 on SABC 2 and across its radio stations, subject to President Ramaphosa’s availability.
“Today I received a formal invite to participate in the Big Debate’s official presidential debate to be held on April 28, 2019 and aired live on SABC 2 and various SABC radio stations. I welcome this initiative and look forward to going toe-to-toe with Cyril Ramaphosa to debate our respective plans to deal with our country’s most pressing challenges,” said Maimane in an emailed statement.
However, the African National Congress (ANC) has released a statement in which it denies the party having any knowledge of, or intention of engaging in, an upcoming debate between Ramaphosa and Maimane. In the statement released on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, the ANC brushed off reports of the debate potentially taking place, saying the party “refuses to be cajoled into a debate that never was between the ANC president, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, with the DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.
“We strongly dispute what is currently being touted by the SABC, that the organisation has confirmed or is even aware of a debate between its statesman and the DA’s Mmusi Maimane,” the statement continues.
In his statement, Maimane had said that it was “high time” that “real solutions” were debated in terms of job creation, corruption and health, adding that the debate would display the differences between the ANC and DA policy.
“Voters are best empowered to make informed decisions when presented with the government track record and credible policy offers of those seeking to lead our nation. Instead of orchestrating and endorsing violent ‘shutdown’ protests, the ANC president ought to come to this debate and present his plans and policies to the electorate.
“Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to create a culture of transparency and accountability, and this provides him with a perfect opportunity to break with the past and show South Africans he is different to his predecessor,” said Maimane.