Few incoming national leaders have been dealt such an unpromising hand as President Cyril Ramaphosa. When he secured a narrow victory over Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the ANC’s elective conference in December 2017, he became president of a divided organisation administered by secretary-general Ace Magashule, a bitter factional antagonist.

In government, the legacies of Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, included an unsustainable fiscal trajectory, embedded corruption, imploding state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and a local government system close to collapse...

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