Nothing but the truth about the president

2017-04-18 06:00

AS a groundswell of opposition grows against President Jacob Zuma, and with the nationwide shutdown on Friday, all South Africans should heed the wise words of Theodore­ Roosevelt (1858-1919), who was the 26th U.S. president, about what is expected of the holder of the United States’s highest office, and which applies equally to South Africa:

“The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.

“Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

“Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else.

“But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.’’

JOHN CONYNGHAM

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