More than 250 years ago the second US president offered a slice of wisdom that might just resonate this week with SA’s fifth democratic president. It certainly informs the praise and criticism of Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration, now less than a month old. In 1770, John Adams, arguing in defence of soldiers in the Boston massacre, before he was elected president, noted: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Two weeks ago Ramaphosa offered in his funereal expression, his uncharacteristic unpunctuality and his half-baked cabinet reshuffle a South African update of the Adams truism. Even his lame joke about the "usual suspects" in the media corps being present for his announcement might have been a pained self-reference to some of the criminals, perjurers and incompetents that ANC politics obliged him to retain in the executive, although with diminished responsibi...

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