South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for “putting him through a period in which he lost complete confidence” in the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).Ramaphosa made the apology when he met the Nobel Peace Prize winner at his home in the Cape Town suburb of Hermanus on Thursday.
“I also want to apologise for what we put you through during a period in which you lost confidence in the leadership of the country,” the president said.
In 2011, annoyed with the party and state leadership of former president Jacob Zuma, Tutu vowed he would pray together with fellow South Africans for the downfall of the ANC like the people here did for the fall of the apartheid regime.
Those comments came after the Zuma government denied granting Tutu’s long-time friend, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, a visa to enter the country to attend the retired clergyman’s birthday celebrations.
At the time, a visibly furious Tutu told ANC leaders during a press conference to “watch out”, warning them about becoming too complacent after winning every election since 1994. During that period Jacob Zuma was the president of the ANC and the country.
Tutu, revered as the moral compass of the country, repeatedly criticised the ANC government for failing to support Tibetans whom he said were being “oppressed viciously by the Chinese” despite the international world helping South Africa defeat apartheid.
Ramaphosa said: “I am sorry. It was not a pleasant moment to hear you as the Archbishop we always loved, expressing your loss of hope and loss of confidence in us.
“I just wanted to say I am sorry we put you through that. But we will work very hard to regain your confidence and make you proud,” Ramaphosa said.
Tutu, who appeared in good spirits, thanked Ramaphosa for the apology. He also gave Ramaphosa’s government his blessing.
According to a News24 news agency account, those who attended the meeting said Tutu was overjoyed by the visit and expressed “positive optimism that has engulfed the country” since Ramaphosa replaced the disgraced Zuma.
“It looks to us that we are on the way to becoming what we were intended to be. We give great thanks to God for you, to uphold you and your colleagues, and we say God must be with you, and protect you. You have to succeed. Failure is not an option,” Tutu said.