At times politicians have something in common with illusionists: they have to trick their audience into believing what they see or hear is real.
But when it comes to praising Jacob Zuma following his forced resignation, not even our hero of the moment, Cyril Ramaphosa, could bring it off. At the start of his Sona speech, Ramaphosa praised the former No 1 for the "manner in which he approached this difficult and sensitive process".
He thanked Zuma for his service to the nation and said during his two terms the country had made significant progress in several areas of development. He he he he …
Let's hope our new president never again finds himself in the position where he has to fake it, even if it is for the sake of unity.
Ramaphosa has committed himself to expropriation without compensation, free higher education for deserving needy students and he promised the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill will be submitted to parliament within weeks. He also said that corruption will be rooted out.
And herein lies the problem. If he is so careful to placate Zuma supporters that he praises the Nkandla crooner when he well knows the man is a charlatan, what will happen when the NPA starts gunning for Zuma?
"What have I done?" Zuma, the ultimate master of smoke and mirrors, attempted to leave us with the illusion that he is a victim and being treated unfairly. Maybe you and I don't believe it, but his support base may well sympathise. Tradition dictates that the 'king' may do as he pleases.
Then there is the expropriation issue. The hunger for land must be satisfied, but how will land be taken without harming the economy?
Free education for the poor? No such thing as free education exists. Education is expensive and someone has to pay. And then we have the healthcare bill - a beautiful concept, but we need R375bn to implement this national insurance. Maybe if Ramaphosa had taken over as president from Nelson Mandela in 1999 instead of Thabo Mbeki, we could already have made good progress with these goals. We will never know.
But, the upside of the situation is that in the almost two decades since then, not only did Ramaphosa prove himself as an astute businessman, he also gained a wealth of experience. He is a man who inspires confidence.
In his Sona, Ramaphosa quoted from the song ‘Thuma Mina’ by Hugh Masekela: “I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around When they triumph over poverty I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS I wanna lend a hand I wanna be there for the alcoholic I wanna be there for the drug addict I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse I wanna lend a hand Send me.”
Maybe the right person has finally been sent to us. In the nick of time.