When Cyril Ramaphosa took his seat next to Jacob Zuma at the ANC top table in Mangaung in December 2012, he wore a look of someone who had just been told a joke and was trying not to laugh. Ramaphosa had just been elected deputy president of the ANC in a landslide vote against the other contenders for the position, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa. Ramaphosa’s return to active politics after a 15-year hiatus was a signal that he was ready to reach for the brass ring — even if the means to the end was joining Zuma’s ticket at a time when the former president was consolidating his power. Ramaphosa clearly knew then that this was a big political gamble. What he did not know was that the Zuma camp would renege on its agreement to back him to become president in 2017. Five years later, Ramaphosa had a very different look on his face when he took his seat on stage at the Nasrec conference after being elected ANC president. He was overcome with emotion, knowing that his destiny to be the ne...

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