It has become a truism to say Cyril Ramaphosa is a weak president. He is indecisive; he rules by committee; he will not depart until the last soul in his party is on board. The arguments are painfully familiar.

Here is another perspective, one that takes in the last half-century of the exercise of presidential power. Viewed over this stretch of time a striking pattern emerges: SA has a history of presidents who have overreached and fallen down; presidents whose careers ended badly because they miscalculated the extent of their power...

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