It’s about 2.45pm. ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang, 82, is leaning on a fence with his right hand. A crutch supports his left hand. He is conducting interviews with a handful of radio journalists who have thrust their microphones through the holes of the netted fence. It’s the first day of the ANC’s national conference at Nasrec, and it has yet to start. Excuses range from stage 6 load-shedding to the late registration of hundreds of voting delegates.

An hour and a bit later, Msimang is sitting inside the hall in the second row in the middle sections. This is a golden circle sitting close to the stage where all the action is...

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