There is a theory in the ANC that only a complete loss of power can save it. The theory goes that once this happens, those who are in it for their stomachs will jump ship, leaving behind those who genuinely care about the organisation and the country and who will rebuild and even lead the ANC back to its position as the leader of society.

One leader even conjured up a vision of a man of the cloth as secretary-general, someone who would lend moral fibre as this miraculous, phoenix-like renewal takes shape. But history shows this theory up for the fanciful myth it is — once the ANC loses power, it battles to make a comeback...

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