Say what you want about Jacob Zuma, but he certainly knows how to take the public pulse. And that is a quality sorely missing among his colleagues of late.
The ANC president's hard stance against crime when he spoke to Sowetan this week must have raised the spirits in people from the most modest shack to the most opulent mansion in this bleeding land.
Call him a populist if you want. But the man seems to sincerely feel in his bones the painful issues that grip our attention.
No doubt he is the consummate politician, but not since Mandela has anyone broken on to the public scene who seems to share his people's anxieties, concerns and pains to such an extent.
Mbeki and his cohorts appear to have retreated into paranoid seclusion far from the people they are supposed to be leading and governing.
The opposition, left and right, in and out of government, just trot out the same tired rhetoric year after year.
We don't believe them anymore and the dream of a rainbow nation that cares for all its people remains ever elusive.
But JZ has the common touch and the ability to reassure us all, however chequered his past might be.
Maybe that is the quality we need in this dark time in our history, a fallible man for a fallible nation.