Nelson Mandela had the "Madiba shuffle". Thabo Mbeki preferred more aloof, urbane pursuits — cigars and cognac and pontificating about such high-minded matters as the link between HIV and Aids, and how to appease Robert Mugabe. Jacob Zuma affably giggled his way through parliamentary question sessions and was wont to demand the odd machinegun. Cyril Ramaphosa writes letters.

As presidential calling cards go, it’s pretty benign. It could even be considered quaint and charming, were it not for the fact that Ramaphosa’s missives often feel as if they’ve been written by someone from another country, rather than the man leading the ruling party. His letters often betray an air of naive surprise at the shocking state of the nation, and not a hint of contrition for the ANC’s starring role in creating the mess...

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