Ramaphosa trips up in silly season

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

We are well and truly down the path of this silly season, judging by the increasingly absurd statements and actions of politicians - all in the name of scoring votes for their parties.

Some have scored the proverbial own goal that would, in a normal, functioning democracy, cost them dearly at the polls.

But we're a nation still in the process of establishing the rules, written or otherwise, of a democratic order. Such foibles go largely unpunished.

That is why politicians make statements or act in ways that hardly enrich the political discourse.

Rather disappointingly, President Cyril Ramaphosa couldn't resist the temptation to be caught in the silliness of the moment.

Alexandra, the famed township in northern Johannesburg, has been on the boil for days on end, with residents protesting against what they have termed lack of service delivery and illegal settlements - demanding that Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba come and address their concerns.

Mashaba has dug in his heels, refusing to venture into Alex or even face the protesters when they crossed the great divide and went to wealthy Sandton to increase the decibels of their grievances.

By the time they left Sandton, there was an open invitation to Ramaphosa to do what Mashaba wouldn't. It was low-hanging fruit for the president, which we believe warranted no one making impossible promises in the name of getting votes.

The president told the crowd that his government would build a million houses in Alex. A reasonable deduction is that that would be done in the next five years of the next administration, expected to he headed by Ramaphosa and his ANC.

He will have to build about 500 houses a day, every day of the five years, to meet the populist pledge. Impossible. For starters, there wouldn't even be room to build in heavily congested Alex.

Now, opposition parties and leaders may have the luxury to make such preposterous claims, but as a man carrying the burden of incumbency, the president should know better than to make statements that will trigger more unrest in future and eventually kill the very hope and believe that people need tobuild a future.

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