Former president Jacob Zuma was ruthless when it came to dealing with his opponents. He had no qualms in obliterating those who stood against him, even if it meant breaking organisations and institutions in the process.

Think, for example, of Zwelinzima Vavi and Julius Malema. Back in 2010, Vavi, then the general secretary of Cosatu, went directly to Zuma with concerns over corruption and other broken promises. Zuma vowed to address them — but instead he all but stopped taking Vavi’s calls, and went on to stoke the most debilitating factional fight ever in the trade union federation, which culminated in Vavi’s axing...

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