OPINION | Being true to himself, Cyril can bring us hope


Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address certainly made all the right noises. After the “Thuma Mina” speech which was uplifting and soothing to the spirit, it was doubtful that he could deliver anything better, as speeches go.
However, this “Watch This Space” speech, delivered by a very confident president, was.
I have to confess, in the past year of Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency, I have often fantasised about separating Cyril Ramaphosa from the ANC.
In this grand fantasy I would pick out a group of select leaders around the country, from academia, business, labour, to civil society to support him instead of his tainted cabinet.
I would ignore ideological persuasions and concentrate on a clear capability to execute the vision of a prosperous and economically inclusive South Africa espoused by Ramaphosa.
Unfortunately, it’s just a fantasy. But I am sure the ANC would still claim the vision all as its own.
I suppose this is not a first time a relatively good ANC leader has had to face this.
Nelson Mandela very likely experienced the same thing. It’s possible that he actually faced real political forces trying to separate him from the ANC, not just mere fantasies.
All too often the very same ANC these leaders come from seems to be a block of concrete tethered to their necks.
For a president to execute a turnaround from the brink of ANC-driven total collapse, while at the same time trying to keep the political machinery which is the ANC running, is asking a lot.
However, the confidence of the president was impressive.
I am not sure if he was feigning it, but it was convincing.
His “watch this space” mantra displayed fresh confidence and conviction.
The reforms he announced were not new, they have been suggested before over a period of time.
The break-up of Eskom, the reduction of the cabinet, the concentration on small business and entrepreneurship, the eradication of corruption, the improvement of parastatals; all these things have been said before.
The difference this time, may be the conviction behind the president’s words.
This is what gives hope. It is what trips most people who had already given up hope in the ANC.
How do we respond to a president who seems like our man, our president, while we do not trust his corruption-implicated political party?
How do we vote for a man and not his party?
If Ramaphosa can do this one thing, I would say he has created something of great value for South Africa.
If he could establish a culture of honesty, where leaders say what they mean, and do what they say, I would say he has given South Africa a future.
If he could take out dishonesty, which only ensures that nothing of value gets done, from the toolkit of political leadership, I would say, well done!
However, I may be hoping for too much from one man.
A culture cannot be changed by an individual. This requires citizens to rediscover the productive and value-adding capacity of honesty.
We must realise in as real a way as possible, that we cannot execute anything of value if what we say is never what we mean, and what we do is never what we say.
The only way forward for Ramaphosa is to execute everything he has so boldly proclaimed in this State of The Nation address; we are watching this space.
But we will not only watch this space, we will do whatever is necessary to build this country in our own little spaces.
We, in our capacity as citizens, will proclaim and act on our conviction towards a better South Africa, so that we too can help establish a culture where this conviction drives our actions.
It is these actions, driven by this conviction which will result in a world not too far from what we all envision; a prosperous, peaceful, inclusive and value adding nation.
Clowns like the EFF brigade who came late to the party, but still want to feed the monster of populism, patronage and self- enrichment must be called out.
We cannot afford to tread that path again.
If Ramaphosa’s ANC has seen the light, which we are yet to witness, we cannot have a turbo-charged version of the “lost ANC” running around here!
The EFF’s obsession with chaos and assault is an apt warning sign!..

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