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Imagine if it was Cyril Ramaphosa who had made way for Jacob Zuma on that Nasrec stage at the ANC’s elective conference in December — what implications would that have had for SA? What awful fate would have befallen the country? Had that been the scenario in December, SA might have had Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and perhaps Ramaphosa serving in succession in the highest office, followed by a Zuma era. The air is still thick with the euphoria brought on by Ramaphosa’s ascension to power, and his rousing state of the nation address on Friday evening has left many with a sense of renewal. But the reality on the ground does not escape many public servants — both former and serving — who saw first-hand the devastation wrought on the system by the Zuma administration and his army of loyal lieutenants. No amount of optimism can mask the ugly truth of the systematic erosion of the public service under Zuma and his acolytes, many of whom are now seeking to rebrand themselves after the fact....

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