Political tension will be running high over the next 24 hours as the governing party tries to ensure the smooth transition of power and the election of a new leadership cohort. We'll be looking for answers to these questions over the next days.
1. HOW DID THEY WIN?
South Africans, journalists and analysts have been caught up in the unfolding drama of the race between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for months now. Over the next few days, we'll be able to piece together exactly how the victorious candidate won. How did the Mpumalanga delegates vote in the end and just how divided was KwaZulu-Natal? Did Ramaphosa manage a path to 50 percent plus one without Mpumalanga, or did Dlamini-Zuma manage to secure a bloc vote from eThekwini and surrounds? Oh, and how many brown bags stuffed with cash are rumoured to have done the rounds?
2. WHO WILL BE BUGGERING OFF?
The late decision by the ANC NEC to vote and announce the top leadership team (whether it's a top six or a top nine or whatever) has upped the ante. It's clear both slates believe they can win and that there's no need to negotiate or to seek middle ground. It's all or nothing, balls to the wall. If CR17 wins, what will happen to the loud-mouthed Zupta-ites who were preening for positions in the new government (read: Fikile Mbalula)? Will they pledge fealty to the new sheriff? And, if NDZ wins, will CR17 and his crew, like Pravin Gordhan and the rest, pontificate unity and stay? Whatever happens, one team will lose. And it will be painful.
3. WILL JZ DELIVER SONA?
There's a strong sense that, if NDZ fails to secure the president's future by claiming the top job in the ANC, Zuma might be subjected to the same humiliation as his predecessor Thabo Mbeki was in September 2008. But whereas Mbeki was only given his marching orders eight months after the Polokwane putsch, word on the street is that Zuma will be persuaded to vacate his suite of offices in the Union Buildings far, far earlier. Mbeki was dumped after Judge Chris Nicholson found he meddled in the legal process around Zuma's corruption charges. The courts have found that Zuma... well, take your pick. The ammo's there.
4. IS MC = W?
The Steinhoff debacle is sure to be hotly debated during meetings of sectoral commissions one and two, the economic transformation commissions. During the policy conference in winter (Nasrec was like a fridge), the proxy debate between the CR17 and NDZ camps was whether or not monopoly capital is white or not. There was general agreement that monopoly capital in the economy (where a few big players dominate any given industry) was bad for the economy. CR17's team, however, argued monopoly capital doesn't know colour, while NDZ (and ANN7) was adamant it is white.
5. WHAT GIVES WITH RADICAL ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION (#RET)?
As much as Nasrec 2017 is about personalities and leadership positions and whether Ramaphosa gets to reboot the party, or whether Dlamini-Zuma can secure the Zupta future, the economy will be at the centre of the debate. Zuma and his fellow travellers (such as the now-defunct Bell Pottinger, his son Duduzane and ANN7 analysts) have been pushing #RET since the assault on National Treasury intensified ahead of this year's state of the nation address. Neither Ramaphosa nor Dlamini-Zuma (the main proponent of #RET) has given much flesh to the bones of their economic policy. There're some serious fights still to be had.
6. HAS THE ANC LISTENED?
From an all-time high of popular support of 69.69 percent (yes, almost 70 percent) in 2004 (under Mbeki) to just over 54 percent support at last year's municipal elections -- including the losses of three more metropolitan municipalities in 2016 -- the ANC has been battered from all sides. Most of these wounds, however, have been self-inflicted, with the party unable to prise itself loose from the grinning grip of Zuma. He has been the opposition's single biggest vote-getter, and he's only just started picking up steam, delivering three court defeats in seven days. For the opposition, the longer JZ remains in charge, the better prospects for 2019 are.
7. WHERE IS SOUTH AFRICA HEADED?
Off the bat: there seem to be two stark choices for the ANC. Ramaphosa, who has served under a corruptible president and has been loath to step out of line too much over the last five years, has publicly declared war on graft, patronage and the Zuptas. It's a good start. Dlamini-Zuma has spoken about corruption in monotones, delivering nothing more than platitudes. She is supported by characters of highly dubious mores and ethics while she has been feted by individuals who have attacked the judiciary, hollowed out crucial state institutions and have been found to be knee-deep in efforts to capture the state. Whichever candidate is picked, the ANC will show us the way. Until 2019, that is.