President Cyril Ramaphosa did ‘okay’ this week
Activists have been warning for months that the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill that he signed on Thursday after leaving it on his desk for six months, was not progressive at all, but put too much power in the hands of traditional leaders to arbitrarily dispose of tribal land ostensibly held in trust for the people, leaving them in the inimitable words of Sol Plaatje in 1913, landless and “pariahs in the land of their birth”.
Even the presidential panel on land reform advised the president against signing the bill after both houses of Parliament had signed it.
Later that day though, he did heed civil society, suddenly pulling out of a planned radio interview with Power FM, after civil society misgivings about chief executive Given Mkhari, who was the subject of tit-for-tat assault allegations by his wife last year.
The truth is, though, that perhaps we aren’t giving the president nearly enough credit. For a man often accused of active inaction, he did act - albeit at the 11th hour - and avoided sending out what would have been very mixed signals indeed during the one time of the year when gender-based violence is unequivocally top of mind.
Secondly, we want him to be subordinate to the Constitution and the rule of law - yet still expect him to overrule the will of Parliament, the people effectively?
It is for these apparent contradictions that we have the Constitutional Court - not for Jacob Zuma to frustrate and exhaust the legal process against him, as most of us would believe.
Let the court decide on the law. If it’s flawed, send it back to Parliament to fix. As for the president, he’s done OK this week.