President Cyril Ramaphosa did not appear a stranger to the African Union as he strolled into the closing session of the African Continental Free Trade Area Business Forum in Kigali on Tuesday afternoon. In fact, there was a mild case of continental Ramaphoria in the audience of African businesspeople, politicians, officials and hangers-on as Ramaphosa declared:
“The issue of visas for Rwandese to South Africa, consider it as a matter that is solved.”
There were whoops and gasps from the room, then applause.
Just last month, former president Jacob Zuma wanted to hang on to the presidency a few months longer so he could introduce Ramaphosa to the AU and the Southern African Development Community.
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo welcomed Ramaphosa warmly, and congratulated him, and also “all of the people in South Africa for their transition”.
A high-ranking member of the Nigerian delegation, when asked about his country’s views, said the rest of the continent shared in the South Africans’ relief at the transition.
At the close of the session with Ramaphosa, the announcer enthusiastically declared:
“Can you feel the change? Change is in the air!”