President Shocked Is Too Rich To Lead

Ramaphosa at WEF 2017

President Cyril Ramaphosa may not realise this, but his now-infamous quotes about being ‘shocked’ and ‘appalled’ by various details he encounters while out on election campaign for the African National Congress show why he’s alienated from the population and shouldn’t lead it: he’s too rich.

In February, Ramaphosa said he was ‘shocked’ at how broken Eskom has turned out to be. Again in March, he found it ‘unacceptable’ that a Metrorail trip he was on took four hours, instead of 90 minutes. In April, it was villages in the Eastern Cape that caused him to be ‘disturbed’.

Last year, it was the death of 5 year old Viwe Jali who fell into a pit toilet in the Eastern Cape that ‘appalled’ him. Opposition parties have even tried to make fun of him for it.

Ramaphosa has to be the face of the ANC’s failure to lead the country, especially over the last 10 years of the Zuma administration – his communications team likely told him his best chance of avoiding public wrath is to pretend like he shares these experiences with people. He too is very upset by load shedding, state capture, pit toilets in schools, and so on. Failures of ANC rule, in other words…

He is too out of touch. The numbers show it, too: the average household net wealth in 2017 was R127,300 – while Ramaphosa’s net wealth at the time was an estimated R6.4 billion. Keeping in mind that South Africa continues to be the most unequal country in the world, our president is worth 50,245 times the average household.

Ramaphosa’s fortune places far outside the orbit of regular experience for South Africans, most of whom subsist on far less than the average household worth or annual income. (About 17 million rely on social grants.)

We should take Ramaphosa at his word. The simple fact is that a president who exists so far outside of regular experience shouldn’t lead a majority-poor country. There are more fingers on his hands than fellow South Africans he can relate to on a realistic level. The rest of us live in hell. We should be led by people who understand that intimately – they’d be personally motivated to do something about this bad material reality.

This Week In Politics

Featured image by the GCIS