There are so many ways the president could have acted differently, both to prevent the outrage that erupted at SONA last week, and in the subsequent handling of the disaster. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as though things are going to change any time soon. But hey, one can dream.
It is often said that we must separate the office of the president from the person who holds that office. Obviously this is difficult to do, and not everybody does it.
Those who do do it possibly do so because it’s necessary to numb themselves into according respect to someone who has no longer earned it. Someone who holds this office, but who does not command the respect that goes with such a high rank. Out of nobody’s doing but their own.
The mismanagement of the Presidency as an office in our country has gone far enough. The list of transgressions by our own president is endless. And the pinnacle was the SONA address.
A horrendous event in the history of our country unfolded in the presence of our head of state, and all he did was to carry on as though nothing had happened. It was shocking. It did not occur to President Zuma that this was perhaps an opportunity to come clean with the nation or even address the nation with what it might need to hear – not in general, nor about what had just happened.
If I were the president, I would not have compromised, nor hidden behind a woman whose fitness for office as the Speaker is still being debated, especially when the party is still apparently trying to make up its mind about whether women are even fit for leadership. The whole affair was vintage Zuma: he was there to deliver his SONA address and nothing, not even violence breaking out under his nose in the chamber, or half the representatives of the House, would deter him. He was a man on a mission, there to tell us his Good Story of his government, and not violence nor catastrophe would stop him. It was, quite simply, the height of his mismanagement of the land.
In this context, one can only wonder what really happened at Marikana, although it will not do to dwell on it here – suffice to say that dishonesty, disregard and insults to the citizens of this country are, apparently, the norm. Is this really the trend it appears to be? What a fascinating insight into how our country operates and what the most powerful figures in the land do behind the scenes in times of crisis.
Here is what I would have done if I were President Zuma. (I might be a humble citizen – but maybe he will surprise me yet, and listen to what the citizens say.)
But then, I am not President Jacob G. Zuma. One can dream. DM
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