Great that the president now leads

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the official funeral service of the later former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on September 14, 2019 in Harare. Ramaphosa was jeered and whistled during his speech before he apologised for recent xenophobic attacks in his home country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the official funeral service of the later former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on September 14, 2019 in Harare. Ramaphosa was jeered and whistled during his speech before he apologised for recent xenophobic attacks in his home country.
Image: TONY KARUMBA / AFP

Even President Cyril Ramaphosa's most enthusiastic adherents admit that his first 100 days in office in the current term were not that impressive.

Disappointment, especially emanating from what is perceived as the president's inability to take firm decisions - especially those that may cause him political enemies - is an expression that is heard from across the political spectrum and in business.

These sentiments reached a crescendo towards the end of last month, as the country was engulfed by cases of femicide and xenophobia, and the head of state for a while seemed to be missing in action.

There was a public outcry over what many saw as the lack of leadership from our head of state. To his credit, Ramaphosa listened, making a number of public statements in a bid to assure the public that his administration was not blind to the issues.

Over the last few days he has taken further steps, cancelling his trip to the United Nation's National Assembly and, instead, calling for the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces where he is expected to announce a raft of measures that would be taken to end gender-based violence.

He has also sent out special envoys to different countries to the continent to communicate SA's opposition to the xenophobic attacks that happened in Gauteng over the last three weeks.

Most importantly, he has been on the ground talking to communities about these issues and appealing for the end to violence.

Of course these steps on their own are not enough to end gender-based violence and prevent attacks on foreign nationals in the future.

But they are steps in the right direction.

With institutions of state seriously weakened by a decade of misrule under Ramaphosa's predecessor, the nation needs a president who is always present and leads from the front, and is seen to be doing so.

We hope that the energy and determination the president has demonstrated over the past few weeks is now going to be a permanent feature of his reign at the Union Buildings.

He cannot afford to withdraw into his shell after this.

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