Cool-headed Ramaphosa overcomes tough challenges – but will Malema? 

In days of yore, generals would select the sites of battles to ensure there was high ground from which they could observe and direct the action. It was not a universal act of cowardice. Rather, it showed an appreciation that cool heads tend to trump hot ones – logic always overcomes passion.

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, a devout bookworm and student of history, has an embedded appreciation of this reality. As we read time and again in the excellent Butler biography, throughout the many challenges faced during decades of leadership, the lad from Soweto’s unfashionable Chiawelo rarely lost his composure. Perhaps because intuitively, he knows the tide always turns.

After last week’s difficulties, we heard yesterday that the SABC has uncovered that the playing of the “let’s start again” video was indeed deliberate, what it called an act of sabotage. And evidence is now emerging that the xenophobic violence wasn’t just an unfortunate coincidence for Cape Town’s once-every-two-years WEF meeting.

The true test of leadership is not how many times you get knocked down, but your reaction to the crisis and how you recover from it. Ramaphosa has survived his challenging week. We now wait to see how his political rival Julius Malema fares after dynamite disclosures around profligate spending of money plundered from the poorest of the poor.