Editor's note: The initial response to Cyril Ramaphosa can only be described as euphoric he was elected on a wave of optimism as the ANC president but things have soured substantially in his first two weeks as state president. Briefly.co.za editor, Stefan Mack, examines how the mood has shifted in the last few weeks.
Jacob Zuma's presidency was disastrous for the ruling party and the country and the expectations for Ramaphosa were very high. Ramaphosa blew the nation away with his State of the Nation Address.
Now, however, the honeymoon is over and South Africans are coming to terms with the bleak realisation that the new dawn has more storm clouds than sun on the horizon.
Malusi Gigaba's budget speech was a step in the right direction but ultimately fell foul of civil society and the general public for its VAT increase which was seen as the government punishing the people for their mistakes.
The backlash was so severe that the ANC itself is calling for a review of the zero VAT rated food items particularly in the face of a fuel levy increase.
This did not endear Ramaphosa to the poorer segments of society
The Cabinet reshuffle looked more like a compromise than Ramaphosa stamping his authority with some woefully under-performing ministers shuffled into less conspicuous positions and Gupta-linked minsters being redeployed into less damaging portfolios.
Again this showed that the new dawn was still full of old problems. Fortunately, Ramaphosa still had enough public support to make his compromised budget and Cabinet reshuffle palatable.
Malema in the driving seat
It appears that the ANC is allowing the enemy general to give orders to its troops. Julius Malema of the EFF has appeared to take the lead in terms of government policy towards land reform.
The EFF led a motion to allow for land expropriation without compensation which was voted through the National Assembly with a massive majority.
Malema has used this victory to flex his muscle and threaten the DA. The two parties are locked into coalition governments in a number of metros and Malema is threatening to hand these over to the ANC unless the DA follows its instructions.
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The EFF is using PE mayor, Athol Trolip as a sacrificial lamb by calling for a vote of no confidence against him.
The ramifications of the motion of land expropriation would have serious consequences both economically and politically and navigating the minefield of property rights and constitutional rights may take years.
Ramaphosa's presidency runs the risk of being hijacked by increasingly radical factions in the EFF and ANC and unless he steps up and stops playing Mr Nice Guy things are going to get increasingly difficult for him.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Brieflyco.za.
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