There were a few tense hours during the ANC’s Nasrec conference in December 2017 when Cyril Ramaphosa’s camp was considering challenging the vote count on the secretary-general position. Just 24 votes stood between Ace Magashule and Senzo Mchunu, and because the position is so crucial, Mchunu and his supporters wanted to put up a fight. There appeared to be grounds for a challenge. The second count of the votes was allegedly irregular and there was a claim that 63 ballots had gone missing during the election for the top six positions. Ramaphosa’s camp eventually decided to drop the matter so as not to derail the conference. They had scored the big prize with the presidency and did not want to roll the dice with the secretary-general position. The complication that prompted the move was that there was one ballot paper for all top six positions. Challenging one position meant challenging all of them. Although the margin of votes for the top post was not as narrow as that for secretary...

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