President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans living abroad to return to their country of birth. He also expressed a desire to stem the flow of young white South Africans to overseas destinations, joking that if he could, he would tie them to a tree to keep them in SA.

The South African president was addressing farmers during an event at Beyerskloof Wine Estate near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, as part of his campaign trail in the lead-up to the national elections in SA on 8 May (or 27 April if you live abroad).

When asked whether there is a future for white South Africans in the country, Ramaphosa responded that “this is the South Africa that should deliver a better life for all of us”.

He expressed his wish for South Africans who have left and are now living abroad to please return home, saying:

“Come back. We can build this country together.”

He added:

“I don’t want white young South Africans to leave the country, and if I could, I would tie them down to a tree, and say: Don’t leave. I want you here, in this country. I want all the skills…”

He guaranteed there are enough opportunities for everyone, and said to those who feel unwanted, it is “entirely not true”.

“We need to have a balance,” said Ramaphosa, “as we empower everyone and open up opportunities to those who were previously prevented from getting opportunities, other opportunities open for all South Africans, and especially white South Africans.

“There is a place, there is room for all of us to play a role… because South Africa in the end belongs to all of us who live in this country.”

Ramaphosa said: “Join me in making this great country of ours great again.”

He said South Africa’s glass if half full, and the task is to determine how to fill it.

Ramaphosa admitted the ANC government has made mistakes in the past 25 years, some of which has led to corruption… and that those implicated need to go to jail.

WATCH Ramaphosa urges young white South Africans to return to, or stay, in South Africa