President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying hard to style himself as the 'everyman', a conscious break from the 'strongman' image that his predecessor perfected.
Image: Reuters/Hannah McKay

President Cyril Ramaphosa has to keep affirming that he is “not weak”.

In response to questions from analysts and people affected by crime and corruption, Ramaphosa had to restate that he was strong enough to take decisive actions.

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.

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. And, since Ramaphosa’s election, there is no demonstrable evidence of the perpetrators of state capture being brought to book.

Despite the many actions he has already taken to clean up the state, Ramaphosa also seems to lack the killer instinct.

He said last week he would always follow Nelson Mandela’s leadership style. However, Mandela was firm when he needed to be and was not afraid to challenge the party line.