President Cyril Ramaphosa stole the glory of the Rugby World Cup 2023 for himself.
It was galling to see Cyril Ramaphosa lounging in the expensive seats of the Stade de France – costing five or six figures each in rand – while South Africans back home struggled to scrounge up enough for a boerie roll and some beer to go with the Rugby World Cup final.
Cyril sat there in his rugby shirt, sporting that vacuous grin that he dons in public, as if he is putting a brave face on acute constipation. Which he likely is, since he’s proven to be full of it since the promises of Thuma Mina and the New Dawn of five years ago.
An entire nation aged ten years as the Springboks for the third time in succession adopted the innovative strategy of winning do-or-die test matches against fearsome opponents by just a single point, as if every additional point would betray that they had worked too hard.
When the final whistle blew, and South Africans could breathe again, we anticipated the unbridled pride and joy of watching Springbok captain Siya Kolisi lift his second, and South Africa’s unmatched fourth, Rugby World Cup trophy.
‘This one is probably for our fans and for South Africa,’ head coach Jacques Nienaber said.
Cyril, however, thought it was for him.
As soon as Kolisi hoisted the cup in celebration, our over-fed president waddled unsteadily across the stage, reached out, and captured the cup from the captain.
While the fireworks were still going, Cyril lifted the cup on his own, before any of the other Springboks even got a hand to it.
As if he deserved it. As if he earned it.
Kolisi made some very pointed remarks in his impromptu pitch-side interview with ITV: ‘There is so much that is wrong in our country. We are the last line of defence. There is so much division in our country but this team shows what people of different colours and backgrounds can do when they work together.’
In the official post-match interview, Kolisi returned to that idea: ‘It’s not just about the game on the field, you know. Our country goes through such a lot, and we are that grain of hope that they have.’
This extraordinary indictment reflects the true feelings of South Africans: exhausted by the corruption, the criminal neglect, the poverty, the inflation, the mismanagement, the lack of service delivery, the non-payment of social grants, the disintegration of infrastructure, the rampant crime, the blackouts, the undrinkable water, and the sheer despair of living in a country that is falling apart under the rule of the ANC which Ramaphosa leads.
Best and worst
Under Siya Kolisi, the Springboks have once again proven themselves to be the best in the world. They are the undisputed champions.
Under Ramaphosa, by contrast, South Africa ranks among the worst in the world in unemployment; in murder statistics and violent crime; in violence against women; in deaths from infectious diseases; in government corruption; in life expectancy; in freight logistics; in the failure to teach our children (or even our teachers) basic reading, writing and arithmetic; and in suicides.
Under Ramaphosa, things have gotten worse, not better.
Not content with lifting the World Cup trophy itself, Ramaphosa also stole Kolisi’s words: ‘We can achieve anything if we work together as one.’
Get lost, Cyril. You have proven you cannot achieve anything at all. Stop cloaking your failures in other people’s glory. This was all Siya and the boys. And they did it for us, not for you.
Perhaps Ramaphosa imagined himself the worthy heir of the mantle of Nelson Mandela, who famously celebrated the Springboks’ first World Cup win with captain Francois Pienaar in 1995.
But unlike Ramaphosa, Mandela had actually achieved greatness himself. He was, to misappropriate the words of a colleague, ‘a head of state that is apolitical, a national anthem or flag in human form, a mother or father of a country who can stand in a people’s stead in moments of human triumph or tragedy’.
Mandela symbolised the success of the liberation struggle, the birth of democracy, and the victory of peace over civil war. In him were reflected the hopes and dreams of a nation yet to be disillusioned by the decay of the ANC.
But if memory serves, even Mandela didn’t have the gall to take the trophy from Pienaar to lift it himself. If he did, I cannot find photographic evidence of it. He celebrated alongside Pienaar, and not as if he had won the trophy himself.
The arrogance of Ramaphosa, to think that he comes even close to Mandela’s stature. The narcissism, to claim centre stage at the Rugby World Cup celebration and believing he has any right to touch that trophy.
The day after the final, exposing the hollowness of Ramaphosa’s claim to greatness, Eskom announced that load-shedding was back.
Ramaphosa represents everything that is wrong in our country. His lifting the cup represents stolen glory.
The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR
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