Ramaphosa's supporters are wondering what's become of their man. They're confused and bewildered. "What's happened to Cyril?" has become the constant refrain. People who were full of hope when he took over are beginning to despair.

An impression is fast gaining ground that Ramaphosa is not only a weak leader but a coward. He buckles easily under pressure. Such chatter is gaining traction. It's too early to say that he doesn't have the stomach for the job, but his courage seems to be deserting him at crucial moments.

A more generous explanation is that he's biding his time, that he'll show his true colours after the elections. Problem is, there's no guarantee that the ANC will prevail. Everything seems to be in a state of flux. The country is angry and restless.

Cyril Ramaphosa has at last got the job he's been waiting for for over two decades. He was the perennial candidate, his name cropping up each time possible contenders were mentioned. Which was no surprise; after all, he was billed to succeed Nelson Mandela before the prize was cruelly snatched from his grasp by Thabo Mbeki. He seemed to have been preparing for the job all his life. Black mineworkers were among the most neglected and discriminated against of the labour force, working under poor and dangerous conditions and living away from their families in single-sex hostels. Ramaphosa moulded them into a potent political force, which not only improved their lot but played no small part in the fight against apartheid.When the ANC was unbanned, he took over from the somnolent Alfred Nzo as secretary-general, bringing his organisational skills to bear as he led the party during the Codesa negotiations. He had all the credentials to take over from Mandela. But when he lost out to Mbeki...

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