It is probably a sad commentary — an indictment in fact — on our public discourse that the days preceding last week’s state of the nation address (Sona) were mostly dominated by whether the EFF would, as is their wont, spoil President Cyril Ramaphosa’s big night. The red berets were once again punching above their weight and undeservedly hogging the limelight.

The address had, under Jacob Zuma, become the EFF’s night to shine, reducing the occasion to an unsightly spectacle that was unbecoming of the people’s parliament. The former president was of course a sitting duck for the EFF. Corrupt and highly compromised, he had rightly earned the disdain of the public that seemed to enjoy the barracking he was getting. Ramaphosa is something of a challenge for the EFF. The punches don’t always land that easily. The president’s bobbing and weaving on Bosasa had offered a little opening that Julius Malema had promised to exploit in parliament. But apart from some innocuous intervention by Malema and his deputy — probably out of boredom or some desire for attention — there was no interruption. Malema was later teased about “chickening out”, but he said Ramaphosa had come clean on Bosasa. Another EFF target was in the house. Shamila Batohi, the new national director of public prosecutions, sat by herself. Her isolation seemed a metaphor: it is lonel...

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