President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED

President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to donate half his salary to a fund honouring Nelson Mandela in a move aimed at encouraging his countrymen to do more for the poor.

"This fund will be launched on July 18 to mark the 100th anniversary of Madiba’s birth," Ramaphosa said in Parliament during the debate on the presidency’s budget vote. He described the new Nelson Mandela Thuma Mina Fund as "a private, citizen-driven initiative that will ask all those with the means to contribute a small portion of their salaries to supporting the many small projects that build the nation".

“As we undertake this important work together, as we travel further along the path of growth and transformation, we are imbued with a new spirit,” the president said. “In truth, it is a spirit rekindled. It is the spirit of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, of solidarity, service and a shared humanity. It is the spirit that moved us to put our wars behind us, to cast aside our differences and to forge a nation of equals. We have traveled far. We still have much further to go. By working together, by drawing on all our resources and capabilities, by embracing that which unites us and confronting that which divides us, I have no doubt we will reach our destination.”

Ramaphosa became one of the wealthiest black South Africans during a 14-year stint in business and is paid R3.6m a year as President — making him one of the best paid leaders in the world. He has drawn praise on social media for flying with the national airline, at times in economy class, inviting the public to join him on early morning walks and clamping down on the graft within the government and state companies that became endemic under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

In his speech, Ramaphosa also announced the establishment of a new presidential council, comprising government ministers, business leaders and industry experts, to ensure state companies are properly managed, and appointed a new panel headed by former judge Robert Nugent to probe the management and administration of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

With Bloomberg