EXTRACT

Why is the country still doubtful about Ramaphosa’s strength and ability to act?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the president is so mild-mannered and almost aristocratic in his deportment. Even his threats are politely articulated.

Ramaphosa is trying hard to style himself as the “everyman”, a conscious break from the “strongman” image that his predecessor perfected, to the point of deploying the South African National Defence Force to protect him in parliament.

But the narrative about party unity is undermining Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption message as it is well known that the state capture project was enabled by senior ANC leaders. It is difficult to do both – prosecute crooked ANC leaders and close ranks to protect the party.

On Monday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Helsinki, Finland, an hour late for his historic meeting with US President Donald Trump. He strode down the stairs from his massive custom-built aircraft to his brand-new armoured limousine, which the media had helpfully been informed is bigger than “The Beast”, the car used by the US president. Before the meeting began, Putin was already large and in charge, engineering the optics of his power play.By the end of the day, during which he held one-on-one talks with Trump, there was absolutely no doubt about who had prevailed. During a joint media briefing, Trump surrendered completely to Putin’s will, parroting the Russian president’s denial of interference in the 2016 US elections and denigrating the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” said Trump. Putin is a master at flexing muscle – the fact that he got Trump to actually mouth t...

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