I thought our president executed himself brilliantly at the SONA, far better than any of his predecessors. He came across as someone, who knew exactly what he was talking about and didn’t sound like someone who was reading a speech that was written by some professional speechwriter, like Zuma always did. Madiba focussed on reconciling the nation, but it was evident that he relied on Mbeki to carry his administrative tasks because Madiba had to deal with the demands of being a celebrity.
Mbeki did not have much business acumen. Fortunately he presided at a time when our economy was booming. He tried to impress the nation with his knowledge and interest in the English language by quitting famous English poets in his Saville Rowe suits. He treated Zuma with utter scorn and disdain and showed no respect at all for struggle icon, Winnie Mandela.
Mbeki was more of an absentee president, who left the country to be run by his close cabal, whilst he went overseas to play the role of mediator in the troubles of other countries but paid little attention to our own. He got rid of an upright intelligent minister like Prof Kader Asmal but he defended to the hilt, the frequently inebriated Manto Msimang, our useless minister of health. Mbeki’s pass time was surfing the net when he couldn’t sleep researching about HIV.
With no medical background, he became the unofficial expert on HIV when he questioned the use of ARVs.
He brazenly defied the experts in the field by promoting beetroot and vitamins. He was indirectly responsible for the death of 300000 people suffering with HIV by denying them access to ARVs. He walked away overseas, when we were gripped in a war of xenophobia against foreign nationals. A foreign national was burnt alive and Mbeki went on television declaring that there was no crisis in the country without batting and eyelid before running away to Japan. Mbeki had the distinct reputation of treating the opposition with utter disdain.
Ramaphosa stepped in at a time when our country’s resources were shamelessly looted by Zuma and his son, supported by his band of corrupt ministers. The government was run remotely by the Guptar brothers from Saxonworld, who treated this country like their personal property. The common accusation by Ramaphosa’s critics in the public and in the opposition like Mousi Maimane, is that Ramaphosa was in government when Zuma was looting the state and he did nothing about it.
What his critics fail to understand or choose not to understand is that a vice president is merely a figurehead with absolutely no power at all. In the NEC under Zuma, Ramaphosa was up against powerful corrupt lackeys of Zuma. He was outnumbered. If he took a chance and went against Zuma, then he would have been fired by the all powerful, Saxonworld controlled Zuma like he did with Pravin Gordon.
I find it hard to understand the comment that Ramaphosa said things that were said before because none of his predecessors were faced with challenges that Ramaphosa faces today. Ramaphosa spoke about the future, when he mentioned the fourth industrial revolution. He stated clearly that half our schools would become technical schools, a painful but unheeded cry of many educators for over a decade.
He stressed that our youth must be given jobs through mentorship without the strangling requirement of experience. He has taken the brave step of breaking Eskom into three units to cut costs and produce electricity more efficiently. This was suggested in 1998 by the ANC but the all powerful unions kept opposing it. He spoke to big businesses to include small businesses as their suppliers. For poor income earners he proposed a special loan system to make it easy to access loans to purchase property without going to the profit making commercial banks. He was going to make available huge tracts of farmable land to new young entrepreneurs to get into farming.
He addressed his seriousness about corruption without mentioning Zuma. The arrest of Aggrizi and his cohorts by the hawks and the reintroduction of the hated crime busting scorpions is testimony to his seriousness about tackling crime. His appointment of the feisty Shamilla Batoyi is yet another clear indication that the days of the corrupt are over. Yes he made a fleeting reference to expropriation without compensation because he had to keep wee Julius and the Zuma faction quiet.
He treated the main opposition leaders with respect and charm and in the process rendered both Maimane and Malemma totally insignificant. During Zuma’s years of administration, Maimane and Malema looked like champions because they ran a three legged race and with two legs and won, bashing a resourceless Zuma. The only time Ramaphosa laughed was when he had to dismiss and annoying and feeble interjection by an EFF member.
Ramaphosa’s speech went off so well and so sleekly, that some of the ignorant in parliament, dressed for a fashion parade were falling off to sleep. The content of his speech was above many of their mental faculties, even if sober. So to the nay-sayers our president’s speech, what was really old about what he said. As for our opposition, Maimsne has been successfully trimmed to size by the white cabal in the DA, and Malemma’s pugilistic style has no place in a parliament that has become a place for civilised debate.
Ramaphosa has ushered in a strong element of hope, any other alternative to him would have sent us hurtling down into the graves of despair. He will get the support of the previously powerful ANCWL once the bumbling chairwoman, Bathapile is replaced by someone of the calibre of Pandor. The next few months before our election will determine how serious he is about combatting corruption in our country. If he can get a few top scalps, he will earn the respect of the country and the confidence of international investors. Something that the country desperately needs.
Ellapen Rapiti is a family physician working in Mitchells Plain for over 36 years. He is also the author of a book called, ‘4 Steps to healing’, a self help book on addiction for users and their families as well a motivational speaker.