Don’t play pop­ulist card too of­ten

The Citizen (KZN) - - OPINION -

You will for­give our cyn­i­cal re­sponse to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who wants South Africans, yet again, to trust the ANC with the run­ning of the coun­try. In launch­ing the ANC’s 2019 elec­tion man­i­festo in Dur­ban yes­ter­day, Ramaphosa ad­mit­ted that the or­gan­i­sa­tion had “made some mis­takes” re­gard­ing trans­for­ma­tion. Al­though it is heart­en­ing that the leader of the party can ac­knowl­edge this fact – how could he not, though? – his com­ments are a good con­tender for the Ironic Un­der­state­ment of the Year.

Then, in his best sales­man voice, he went on to say that the “ANC is work­ing” and that it is “fix­ing” South Africa’s prob­lems.

Like his pre­de­ces­sor Ja­cob Zuma – who is still the one look­ing over Ramaphosa’s shoul­der, judg­ing from the way he shared the lime­light (as if he is be­ing pro­moted for saint­hood, never mind ac­cused of fa­cil­i­tat­ing wide­spread loot­ing of State cof­fers) – Ramaphosa made grandiose prom­ises. This time it was a more mod­est 275 000 new jobs, com­pared to the half a mil­lion Zuma promised a few years ago ... just be­fore un­em­ploy­ment soared.

The man­i­festo, said the pres­i­dent, will help launch a skills rev­o­lu­tion in South Africa, echo­ing his pre­vi­ous be­lief in this coun­try be­ing a ma­jor player in the “Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion” ... while just 40% of pupils start­ing Grade 1 man­age to pass Ma­tric.

In pol­i­tics, one should never take elec­tion man­i­festos too se­ri­ously. Most are mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tis­ing – and the ANC one is no dif­fer­ent.

But Ramaphosa clearly has a long way to go in neu­tral­is­ing Zuma and his lack­eys, so we should per­haps cut the pres­i­dent some slack.

On the other hand, he must not suc­cumb to the temp­ta­tion of play­ing the pop­ulist card too many times. That could have long-term and neg­a­tive ef­fects, which will can­cel out all the fine dreams of the man­i­festo.

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