Ramphele spares no one as she talks truth to power
The Times Editorial; Mamphela Ramphele yesterday did what she does best - hold a mirror up to our nation. Speaking at the University of Cape Town, which she used to lead, Ramphele had harsh criticism for those who run the country.
As usual, she did not pull any punches. But why should she - why should those other leaders in civil society - when they articulate the dismay and concern that many South Africans feel privately?
She did not spare ordinary citizens either - she berated them in very much the same way as Barney Pityana, who told them in September that they had only themselves to blame for the state in which they find themselves.
Yesterday, Ramphele said: "The only language that politicians understand is when they feel they risk losing power.
"The only reason why they are relaxed is because, come election time, they will [be able to] appeal to you to vote for the party of Mandela, appeal to you to vote for the only liberation movement, appeal to you not to vote for the DA because it will take you back to apartheid.
"It's almost treating you like children and, unfortunately, we didn't have civic education [which would have taught] people that it is not possible that we can be taken back to apartheid.
"If you are poor and uneducated, you wonder if it is not possible that it can happen."
Ramphele is, of course, correct in her assessment of the power that political parties, particularly the ANC, have in this country.
Each time we vote, we elect a party - not a leader who offers a vision of a future South Africa and who can be held accountable.
Every five years, we line up like docile sheep at election stations and vote the same party into power even though its leaders have cruelly disappointed us.
And thus, we get the South Africa we deserve and, more tragically, the worst kind of leaders - those who do not lead.