President Cyril Ramaphosa has a stressful few days ahead of him. He has to announce new restrictions on Covid-19 hotspots, face his first no-confidence vote in parliament and run an ANC national executive committee meeting where he simply must — if he is to retain any credibility as a reformer — emerge with a mandate to sideline ANC office-bearers facing prosecution.

His economic recovery programme is already in deep trouble. The government wants to delay court proceedings brought by public sector unions over a dispute in which the state has declined to pay the final award of the three-year wage deal in order to save itself almost R40bn...

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