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The deputy president's bid to boot Zuma doesn't bode well for his future as SA's leader.

It has been more than a week since the ANC Top Six met President Jacob Zuma to ask him to step down. He defied their request, which was aimed at avoiding a messy transition, and preferred to stick to his guns. The next stage should have been a decision and an ultimatum by the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC), which was to receive the top-six report a few days later, if not for an inexplicable intervention by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. The ANC president preferred to treat Zuma with kid gloves.

It would seem Ramaphosa's intervention has emboldened Zuma and made him determined to cling to power: he has made unreasonable demands, bought himself more time in office and arrested the country's progress. Ramaphosa's gesture effectively made Zuma an equal partner in determining his exit. Deal-making is transactional and is based on reciprocity. By its nature, it's a give-and-take affair. It mattered little to Ramaphosa that he was dealing with a president who, since taking office in 2009, has broken his oath of office, dishonoured the government and facilitated the looting...