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Cyril to return

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‘The minister has managed to twist my arm, I will be here on Wednesday’

SERVICE: President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas, at the Inter-Faith Service in Kimberley yesterday morning. Picture: Danie van der Lith

SOUTH Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, will be in Kimberley again later this week when the city hosts the national Armed Forces Day celebrations.

He will do so at the expense of attending the budget speech, which has also been scheduled for Wednesday.

While his absence from Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting in Cape Town is unlikely to go unnoticed, the state president and commander-in-chief of the SANDF said yesterday that he would visit Kimberley for a second time within days of being sworn in as head of state, because he had prioritised the event in the Diamond City, where thousands of members from various branches of the armed forces will be in attendance.

In his keynote address during yesterday’s interfaith service at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley, organised by the SANDF, Ramaphosa described it as an honour and a privilege to take the salute for the first time, thanking the various branches of the armed forces for their service to South Africa.

He further committed to prioritising visits to all areas in Africa where SANDF members are currently stationed and encouraged the congregation not to allow political interference to hinder their service to the public.

“This year’s celebrations occur as our nation celebrates the change of leadership in the governing party without any appetite for senseless bloodshed, because our defence force is led by wise women and men who abide by the ideal of the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law,” said Ramaphosa.

“It is a day that reminds us that blood was spilled by countless South Africans and freedom fighters to guarantee us our freedom and human rights.

“A truly national defence force for all South Africans guarantees that its tanks and guns will never again roll into townships and suburbs to fight against the very same people it was established to protect.”

While the keynote address was well received from the time that the president took the podium, the greatest ovation from the men and women in uniform came when Ramaphosa confirmed that he would be in Kimberley on Wednesday.

“As the budget speech has also been scheduled for the same day, it appeared as if I would not have been able to be in Kimberley for the Armed Forces Day festivities,” said Ramaphosa. “However, the minister (Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) has managed to twist my arm and I will be here on Wednesday.”