US first lady Michelle Obama applauds and daughter Malia looks on as US President Barack Obama prepares to speak after he took the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington. Picture: REUTERS
US President Barack Obama prepares to speak after he took the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington. Picture: REUTERS

A FEW hours after US President Barack Obama delivered his inaugural speech, Motsweding FM presenter Goitsemodimo Seleka said something like this of Mr Obama: "Love him or hate him, his speeches are inspiring. He does not speak about a certain political party but about America. I wish we had a president who spoke the way Obama did."

When Mr Obama speaks, his audience does not doze or slumber. The problem with US presidents is that they don’t mean what they say.

Mr Obama’s two inaugural speeches were nonpartisan. He spoke as president of the US and not as a leader of the Democratic Party. His speeches have catch phrases and themes. His first inaugural speech’s catch phrase was "Yes we can".

Monday’s inaugural speech’s catch phrase was "We, the people", signifying the importance Americans attach to their constitution and the significant role the "founding fathers" played in establishing the US as a country. He did not concentrate only on those "founding fathers" who belonged to the Democratic Party.

In their inaugural speeches, all the three or four past presidents of this country did not acknowledge freedom fighters from the Pan Africanist Congress and Black Consciousness formations.

They do not even acknowledge the founding president of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League, Anton Lembede, and his deputy, Ashby Peter Mda, because of their Africanist ideological predilection.

Partisanship is a big problem in this country. Partisanship manifests itself in awarding of tenders and patronage. Many people have said they were asked to produce ANC membership cards when they looked for jobs.

At the conclusion of their inaugural speeches, all US presidents say "God bless America". They do not say "Viva the Democratic Party, Viva", or "Viva the Republican Party, Viva!".

Let us wait for a disappointing state of the nation address next month.

Sam Ditshego

Kagiso