His supporters regard such criticism as unfair. Ramaphosa is not getting the credit he deserves, they say. They correctly point out that he's done a lot in the six months he's been in office. There's a new board at Eskom, and the utility, though bankrupt, is no longer a feeding trough. Tom Moyane is out of SARS and an inquiry is under way to find why such a fine institution was destroyed. A commission of inquiry into state capture has been appointed, although why it's still faffing about remains a mystery.

Ramaphosa has made some first-rate cabinet appointments. In Nhlanhla Nene the National Treasury seems to be in good hands again. Pravin Gordhan is doing a good job cleaning up the parastatals, the Gupta meal ticket not so long ago. There's also some bad apples. One can understand why Bathabile Dlamini is still in the cabinet.

Many South Africans are caught in a dilemma. They rightly blame the ANC for corruption and profligacy and want to see it punished at the polls, yet they hope President Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the offending party, will survive the skirmishes in the snake pit. They may not like his party, but they think he's the right man for the job. His heart is in the right place. But he needs to locate his backbone, quickly. Courage is a critical element in leadership.As with Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki before him, Ramaphosa's supporters are not necessarily ANC adherents. Many, if not most, have nothing but contempt for the party that's made life so miserable for them. Jacob Zuma, on the other hand, was propelled to power and propped up by a small clique of partisans with eager eyes on the cookie jar. Their achievement is there for all to see. South Africans of all shades knew that the status quo was untenable when the ANC held its conference to elect a successor to Zuma. Perdition was assur...

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