I have a terrible feeling that everybody is going to be sharing their Cyril Ramaphosa stories pretty soon, assuming he is victorious on Monday, which at time of writing seemed possible but extremely close. I have many Ramaphosa anecdotes, and they go back an awfully long way. But there is one outstanding memory that has never left me. I don’t know him well. My interactions have always been as a journalist and they have been spotty, but fairly regular. They have always been thoroughly civil and, taken together, they fill me with enormous confidence about his presidency of the party and the country — assuming he wins.

The first time I saw Ramaphosa was at a deeply poignant moment — at the 1987 press conference held when, as leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), he had decided to call off the largest strike in SA’s history. This was an enormous setback for the NUM, which was only four years old at the time but had managed to sign up 344,000 mineworkers, of which thre...

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