Editorial: Night owl sings good song

President Cyril Ramaphosa came under fire this week for making a late-night announcement about a decision taken by the ANC to make it “explicitly clear” in the Constitution that land can be expropriated without compensation. On cue, the rand was weakened and investor confidence, fragile as it is, dented.

Most of us, as Eusebius McKaiser eloquently points out in these pages, were left scratching our heads about the way the president made the announcement, when most of us were asleep.

And yet, all he did was reiterate the ANC’s position taken at its conference in December. But he was compelled to make that statement to neutralise the Economic Freedom Front — and a sizeable faction in the ANC.

So we understand the political play — even when it comes in nighttime announcements.

In his second late-night statement this week, he hurried to the Union Buildings on Wednesday night after women from the #TotalShutDown march said only the president could receive their memorandum. Speaking to the protesters, he acknowledged the need to address gender-based violence, indicated he would convene a summit to address the issue — and address the conduct of police during the protest. Rampahosa’s ability to say the right thing is unmatched. We hope he will also be pushed to do the right thing. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

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