The run-up to the ANC elective conference in December isn’t following familiar plotlines. In the Thabo Mbeki period, we had endless scheming and backroom deals. In 2007, Jacob Zuma brought zero-sum slate politics to the ANC, his faction sweeping aside the entire Mbeki top six at Polokwane.

In 2012, Kgalema Motlanthe’s phantom pregnancy delivered Cyril Ramaphosa as a surprise baby deputy president. The 2017, Nasrec “billionrand election” elevated Ramaphosa to the presidency, but surrounded him with dubious characters such as secretary-general Ace Magashule and deputy president David Mabuza...

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