President Cyril Ramaphosa withdrew from a big one-on-one interview at the 11th hour on Thursday evening.
The interview dubbed the Chairman’s Conversation and hosted by Gauteng-based radio station Power FM owner, Given Mkhari, was meant to get the president to answer questions on a wide range of issues affecting South Africa.
In a statement released about two hours before the beginning of the interview, the Presidency said Ramaphosa’s decision was largely influenced by calls from two civil society groups that he should not participate in the interview.
The Soul City Institute and Wise4Afrika said Ramaphosa would be undermining the campaign against gender-based violence if he honoured the interview because Mkhari has been accused of physically abusing his wife, Ipeleng. The two organisations said it is even more concerning that Ramaphosa would be interviewed by Mkhari at a time when the country is observing the annual 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children campaign.
“Ramaphosa firmly believes that he, like every other South African, has a responsibility to do everything within his means to confront gender-based violence, and to do nothing that undermines the effectiveness of the national effort,” the Presidency statement said.
“The Presidency notes that Mr and Mrs Mkhari met with representatives of certain civil society organizations and senior officials in the Presidency today, but unfortunately the resolution reached by the parties was too late to ensure his participation.”
The Presidency emphasized in the statement that the president’s non-participation should not be read as an endorsement of the untested allegations
raised by civil society organizations, but a carefully weighed up decision taken in the public interest.
Mkhari has previous hosted former President Thabo Mbeki and billionaire businessman Johann Rupert.