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President Ramaphosa can learn a few things from President Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021. Picture: Tom Brenner/Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021. Picture: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Published Jan 28, 2021


by Alex Tabisher

So much has happened in the world as we know it since my last column, that I find it very hard to produce an uncluttered piece. We have Covid-19, the Zondo commission almost grinding to a halt because of one man, more and more revelations of corruption not only in the past, but projected into the future when the vaccine starts being rolled out. And we have Potus.

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I learnt the acronym “Potus“ from a letter to our paper written in America. It’s an acronym for ”President of the United States“.

I want to draw a few parallels with this promised renewal in America and our own Porsa (work that one out).

Joe Biden inherited a poisoned chalice. Yet his primary moves as the new president was to appeal for unity. Unity of national purpose, like the vaccine rollout, realigning with the WHO and the Paris Protocols on climate change. He is also promising relief in pressing economic times, focussing on the poor and racially-marginalised. This is one benefit of having Kamala Harris beside him.

Less and less, she is being referred to as a woman of colour, and African-American, of Indian descent and female. Her support in melding the Republicans and Democrats on key issues is a plus for the US and should be something into which we can tap. (Trump’s impeachment is one such issue).

Now talk of our Porsa. He also has the sword of Damocles in threat to the health of his nation, but he is ambivalent, hesitant, directionless and tardy in getting the medication out there. Stop tossing about facts about what percentage provides herd immunity. Stop playing God by creating artificial hierarchies regarding priority of access to the vaccine.

Do not posit the notion of a lack of funds. You had enough to bail out the workless in March last year. You found money to bail out failed and failing state-owned entities. You pay useless and underperforming ministers and their entourages massive salaries while Sassa recipients are hosed down in public. And extra staff employed to rescue the educational crisis last year have not been remunerated.

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This is not a political rant. Our country is almost a one-party state. Opposition is close to being racial rather than political. Where is the elephant in the room?

Rewind 27 years and the dream of Mandela echoes and resonates with the whole nation. The demon then was apartheid. But the supposed negotiations that were supposed to give us all a slice of the (white) economic pie became a shameless marriage between the immigrant advantaged white and the newly-elected ANC national government which was no more than an elite upper middle-class Black cartel which had no plan for the poor.

Sunset clauses guaranteed that whites would not lose their ill-gotten riches, not by expropriation, nationalisation nor, God forbid, red-overalled thugs who pose as politicians. More than 80% of the population wait in vain for promised housing. They became adept at putting up their own structures. Squatter camps gravitated to informal settlements, with negotiations that thrashed building and health regulations. In this despicable and cunning manner, the ANC relieved itself of caring for the very people who voted it into power.

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Let’s take a small lesson from the frail-looking Biden. Following Trump must have added years to his 78. But he is being cautious in appealing for unity even while there are disagreements. He remembers that 80 million people voted for Trump. So impeachment is not high on his list. He wants governmental concord and unity to make good on noble promises.

Shall we pray for Joe the Potus or Cyril the Porsa?

* Literally Yours is a weekly column from Cape Argus reader Alex Tabisher. He can be contacted on email by [email protected]

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** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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