08/07/2018 08:45 BST | Updated 08/07/2018 09:08 BST

Ramaphosa Feels 'Warmly Welcomed' In KZN

President Cyril Ramaphosa has downplayed "lies" that he wasn't welcomed in KwaZulu-Natal since he was elected president at the party's 54th elective conference in Nasrec.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters

President Cyril Ramaphosa has downplayed "lies" that he wasn't welcomed in KwaZulu-Natal since he was elected president at the party's 54th elective conference in Nasrec.

Ramaphosa was speaking at the launch of the ANC's Thuma Mina campaign in Groutville, northern KZN on Saturday afternoon.

He said the province had welcomed him with "open hands".

"I feel warmly welcomed. There were rumours that the new leadership of the ANC was not welcomed in KZN," he said.

Ramaphosa said the people "who like spreading lies" had said he wasn't welcome in KZN because he had contested Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was the province's preferred presidential candidate before the conference.

"You have proven them wrong," he said.

Ramaphosa said they thought he wouldn't include Dlamini-Zuma in his Cabinet.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters

"She is in the Cabinet. Unity is about being able to work with the comrade that you contested a position with and work hand-in-hand with them and accept that people have chosen the other," he said.

He also reiterated that he had a "very good" relationship with former president Jacob Zuma.

"Yesterday (Friday) I spoke with him regarding the passing away of his child. I told him I couldn't attend the funeral," he said.

Ramaphosa then asked ANC members who had filled the huge marque to observe a moment of silence for the death of Zuma's son, Vusi. He died on last Sunday.

Ramaphosa also revealed that he met King Goodwill Zwelithini on Friday night following Thursday's imbizo in Ulundi where KZN traditional leaders discussed the Ingonyama Trust land issue.

"We have no intention whatsoever to even touch the land under the Ingonyama Trust. The recommendation by the high-level panel is just a recommendation. As government, we will not cancel the Ingonyama Trust. As the ANC government, we have no such intention," he said.

During the imbizo, King Zwelithini took a jibe at the ANC-led government saying that the expropriating of land administered by the Ingonyama Trust was tantamount to "spitting on our forebears".

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"They want to take away our land. I pray for them to continue fightingamongst each other even more," he had said.

Ramaphosa said their proposed expropriation of land without compensation drive would not target the 13% of communal land under traditional leaders.

"They hold that land on behalf of our people. The land that we're targeting for expropriation is the 87% of land but we will do it under the confines of the Constitution," he said.

Ramaphosa also asked his party's members to unite before the 2019 elections.

"We must keep in mind that when we fight amongst ourselves, the 12 million people supporting us are watching us and might decide to walk away. We must make sure that we unite," he said.

The ANC is not there to improve the lives of certain people but the whole community.

He said the Thuma Mina campaign was not only about improving the lives of South Africans but also about forging unity in the ANC.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

"Divisions amongst branches must stop, hate and fights amongst comrades must stop. We have to work together and unite whether we are in love or not," he said.

He said he was launching the campaign in response to the great desire the people have shown to serve the nation and the greater cause of humanity.

"We must mobilise our communities and actually get involved in improving the lives of our people. There's no other party that can improve the lives of our people," he said.

Ramaphosa also reiterated that government was looking at ways to "ease the pinch" that South Africans were feeling following the recent fuel price hikes.

He said he has noticed that following the petrol price hikes and the recent increase of the VAT, "our people were beginning to struggle".

"Government is looking at measured to ease the pinch that our people are facing but one of the difficulties is that we import petrol from other countries. It becomes difficult when the dollar is stronger than the rand. We then pay more and that's where the challenge is," he said.