The African National Congress' (ANC) policy conference will be starting at 10:00 on Friday, 30 June 2017 with an address by President Jacob Zuma to the almost 3 000 delegates and concluding on Wednesday, 5 July 2017, with Zuma's closing remarks.
What to look out for:
1. The leadership race
Some seasoned analysts with their ears on the ground believe that if the elective conference were to be held today, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will triumph. Cyril Ramaphosa's camp in turn contends their ground campaign is stronger and more effective than many believe. We'll know for sure at the end of the marathon-week what the lay of the land is.
2. Pretenders to the throne
The bout at the top of the bill undoubtedly is Dlamini-Zuma vs. Ramphosa, but generation next will be looking to make their presence felt. Lindiwe Zulu, the combative former MK operative and minister of small business development will be one to watch, as will the overtly-ambitious Fikile Mbalula, the new police minister. Malusi Gigaba, the minister of finance, is walking a fine line between loyalty to his president while keeping an eye on the future. But what of his Gupta links?
3. Closed commissions
The ANC will be holding up to three media briefings per day, giving feedback from the discussions to the assembled vultures from the fourth estate. But the real action will happen behind closed doors at the commissions to which the media won't have access. It will be there where political hot potatoes like the true meaning of "radical economic transformation" and "white monopoly capital" will be battled out.
4. State capture
There is a massive divide between those that truly believe the state and party has been hijacked by sectional, selfish interests and those that oppose these ideas on the grounds of true transformation. Despite the mountain of evidence that has piled up over the last 18 months, there is no sign of the ANC tackling the problem with honesty and gusto. State capture is what is crippling the party, but it's also state capture that keeps the wheels of patronage greased. Let's see if any concrete steps are announced.
5. The economy
It has been at the heart of every policy discussion event since the ANC's released their "Ready To Govern" document in 1992, was the big talking point at the national general council in 2010 and will again be the source of conflict at Nasrec. Economic transformation, monopoly capital and radical economic transformation have become much more than nominal economic catchphrases, it's become symbolic of state capture and vested interests. Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan were both replaced by lackeys. It caused major damage. Don't expect to see an economic panacea when conference concludes.
6. Jacob Zuma
Theodore Roosevelt, the American president in the early 20th century, said the presidency is like a "bully pulpit" – a place from which he is able to advocate any idea and any agenda to to broad society. Zuma will use the pulpit given to him with his two addresses on Friday and Wednesday to lay down the law, hit out at his detractors and set the tone for the last six months of his presidency. His future, free from persecution and safe in the knowledge that he has established a dynasty, depends on it.
ANC gatherings are famous for the weird and wonderful people, the tacky and trendy clothing and bling and bust of luxury vehicles and skoroskoros. From the hugely expensive leather jackets (the presidential jacket can set you back a couple of thousand rand) to t-shirts (made in China) depicting struggle heroes and DVD's of old speeches, it's a political shoppers' dream. It's all there: Che Guevara caps, Cosatu/Basotho blankets, branded condoms and copies of Das Kapital. Nasrec is going to be lit. And we haven't even discussed silver spinners on new Merc SLK's, boot parties at BMW X5's or stickers with Dlamini-Zuma's smiling face emblazoned across the bonnet of an Audi Q5.