FRIDAY BRIEFING | Cyril Ramaphosa: A President under pressure

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Friday Briefing

Pandemic President Cyril Ramaphosa's tight-rope walk

Thursday night marked Cyril Ramaphosa's fifth State of the Nation Address, but his first since Covid-19 gripped the country and the rest of the world. 

It resulted in a much-muted affair, with only a handful of mask-wearing MPs in Parliament, while the president made his address which had a strong focus on economic recovery and business, with very few details on the vaccine rollout, which is probably what most citizens wanted to hear. 

25 May marks two years since Ramaphosa was officially inaugurated as the country's president after holding down the fort following Jacob Zuma's resignation on 14 February 2018. 

His ascendence to the position of president of the ANC was never going to be an easy one. The battle at Nasrec was a bruising one, and his victory was a result of a very thin margin between himself and his opponent Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.  

Besides fighting to hold his party, fraught with factions, together, Ramaphosa had to face a new enemy to his presidency when just 10 months after his inauguration, the pandemic hit, bringing with it further challenges to a government already in a precarious position. 

For our pandemic president it has been a tough run and, looking at him in Parliament on Thursday, the last few months appear to be taking their toll. 

In this week's Friday Briefing, News24's associate editor Pieter du Toit analyses SONA and writes that while the President is aware of what he has to do to save the country's economy, his task is impossible and unenviable while political editor Qaanitah Hunter is of the view that the country does not need yet another corruption unit.

Mistra's director of research, Professor Susan Booysen writes that the ANC may remain dominant at the polls, but Ramaphosa's presidency has been fragile and permeable. Analyst Aubrey Matshiqi holds a similar view, arguing that because of the slim margin of his Nasrec win, Ramaphosa cannot make decisions that he would like, and perhaps that we need as a country. Finally, the University of Pretoria's Tinyinko Maluleke breaks down four areas where mistakes have been made by the Ramaphosa administration during the pandemic.


Vanessa Banton

Opinions Editor. 

Saving South Africa: The impossible and unenviable task of Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa knows what needs to be done to save South Africa from the pandemic and from itself. His state of the nation address, delivered on Thursday night, shows why his task is impossible and unenviable, writes Pieter du Toit.

No, Mr President, we don't need another corruption unit

Qaanitah Hunter writes that by creating another complicated layer in the fight against corruption, President Cyril Ramaphosa will only entrench ineffeciency and further finger pointing when state institutions are found to be sleeping on the job.

Power, putsches and popularity: The backstory to Ramaphosa's pandemic presidency

A campaign to replace Cyril Ramaphosa in the ANC is underway even though his rise to power in the party was due to his leadership image and ratings that he would deliver victory in the 2019 government elections, writes Susan Booysen.

The three albatrosses around Cyril Ramaphosa's neck

Cyril Ramaphosa will have to watch his back as the succession battle heats up as the party prepares for its National General Council later this year, writes Aubrey Matshiqi.

The anatomy of our 'pandemic president'

25 May marks two years since President Cyril Ramaphosa's official inauguration. Ten months later, the president was dealing with a pandemic. Tinyiko Maluleke examines four areas where Ramaphosa and his administration’s management of certain aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been dismal. 

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