We are not short of explanations for the seeming drift of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration. The legacies of Jacob Zuma’s decade of destruction are more damaging than we could have imagined. Regional barons who campaigned on Ramaphosa’s coattails are insisting on business as usual. The alliance partners Ramaphosa relied on to become president, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu, now circumscribe his policy options. Business is unwilling to invest because policy reform and clean government have not yet been entrenched.

More curiously, Ramaphosa’s leadership is constantly portrayed as under threat from a Zuma-aligned “fightback” crew. Yet the alleged rebels invariably turn out to be insubstantial has-beens, already exposed crooks or political weaklings destined for prison or the backbenches of parliament. How do we explain this apparent paradox?

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