On Thursday 23rd April (4 weeks after Lockdown), President Ramaphosa addressed the nation to announce a phased relaxation of lockdown measures in South Africa. Nobody could give a more cogent response than Herman Le Roux in his Facebook post which has been dubbed “Saluting Our President“. I have copied it verbatim here:
I just listened to President Ramaphosa’s speech. I never thought I would write these words, yet, here I am writing them. The speech he delivered tonight will go down in the annals of history.
This is why.
He gave the reasons
He explained the process
He acknowledged all challenges
He proposed solutions
He showed compassion
He did not make it about him
He did not bring politics into it
He told us why
He showed us how
He understands the effect
He grasps the facts
He listens to science
He shows humanity.
He is not moved by fear, hate, misinformation, glory, self love, fake information or emotion. He is moved by fact. Controlled, calculated compassionate fact. His five staged plan is a logistical giant that I hope he gets the support for he needs. It is clear he fully grasps all aspects and considers everything.
This was arguably the most significant speech delivered in South Africa in 25 years, and one of the greatest ever. Comparable to the great speeches of all time.
For all the challenges, whether or not it will work, how it will be supported there is this one thing. President Ramaphosa is not like any of his predecessors, and will make a mark not only as a great leader, whether or not you like him or not but as a world leader. You have to admit that he is a very intelligent man, with compassion and controlled dignity. I will never vote for your party, and I will still disagree with you on many things, but not tonight. Tonight you have nothing but my utmost, deserved respect.
Go rest. You are tired.
This was the speech. I do not think any speech in recent times by any world leader is comparable to this.
I will do my part as you asked, not instructed, asked, in a dignified and humble manner.
©️ Herman H Le Roux
The case of a willful face-mask
At the end of Ramaphosa’s speech, the President had a bit of a mishap when demonstrating how to put on a face mask. And of course social media went wild with affectionately teasing memes.
Laughing at oneself – sign of a true leader
But the country’s respect for him only increased when, the next day in a televised visit to a Gauteng hospital, he made fun of himself and the wayward mask with humour and grace. Laughing at oneself has been linked to emotional intelligence (EQ) and I think this our Prez has in buckets. “Research suggests that a tangible way to spot a self-aware leader is by looking for a self-deprecating sense of humor. People that can admit to their failures or shortcomings with a smile are more approachable”. Hmmm! a few more leaders could do with this quality!
The past decade or more has been a shameful one for post-democratic South Africa but, that aside, I am currently very grateful for your stewardship President Ramaphosa. You can’t get it all right but you have demonstrated the will to try.