Cyril Ramaphosa has been called many things in the past three weeks.
One label that must have stung is the accusation that he is a coward, that he lacks courage.
People deduced that from his supposed indecisiveness when dealing with the inevitable removal of Jacob Zuma.
Contrary to the view of the majority, no courage was needed by the new state president until now.
The second ANC president to be recalled was already a lame duck. He had done enough damage to himself that it’s doubtful that he would have had the courage to show his face in parliament again.
The time for courage is now.
There is a video clip that’s doing the rounds on social media showing the last thirty seconds of Duduzane Zuma’s interview with a BBC journalist.
When asked, “Does the thought ever cross your mind that your actions could land you in jail?” the arrogant reply from the president’s son is “Did you just see it cross my mind right now?”
That’s how cocky the looters of our state coffers had become. They believed themselves to be untouchable.
This is when Ramaphosa will need to be at his most courageous.
He will need to fulfil his promise from the State of the Nation Address to rebuild the NPA so that individuals such as Duduzane are made to face the consequences of their arrogance.
Ramaphosa will need all the courage he can get to reverse a decade of damage done to all state institutions.
The national budget is next on the agenda.
The country is waiting to see whether the man appointed by Jacob Zuma to replace the efficient Pravin will continue in the post.
President Ramaphosa will be accused of perpetrating a purge if he removes Malusi Gigaba from that post.
In fact, he might even face a backlash from within his own party if he does remove Gigaba.
Whatever he does, he will have to demonstrate real courage because it is widely known that Gigaba has been a key but silent cog in the state capture machinery.
Ramaphosa will need courage of gladiator proportions in dealing with a really bloated Cabinet that was no longer set up to deliver government’s objectives but as a gateway to patronage.
The non-performing ministers all belong to a faction within the ruling party – a faction that is not likely to sit back and let Cyril fix things as he should because it will be the end of the gravy train for them.
There is even a chance that they will regroup and try to destabilise his position within the ruling party – which is why he will need courage in bucketfuls.
The damage to Sars, to state-owned enterprises, to the NPA, the leadership of the police and even the public protector’s office will not be sorted out in weeks or months.
It will take years.
What the previous administration did was destroy the integrity of these institutions. But not only that, they went further and forced out all the good people in those institutions.
Who can forget the Sars wars in which an entire leadership was wiped out in a protracted battle with the president’s keepers?
It will take massive courage from the new president to do a “reverse” purge.
He might not be able to get all the good people back, but if he is courageous enough, he will put up a team of good people around himself, consult widely in his party and outside and then get down to work.
South Africa needs him to be fearless right now.