18/12/2017 20:03 SAST | Updated 18/12/2017 20:06 SAST

Cyril Ramaphosa Won The Conference -- Here's The Blueprint

Five keys to the new ANC president's victory at Nasrec.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Deputy president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa reacts after he was elected president of the ANC at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa December 18, 2017.

The 2017 ANC elective conference was the toughest in the party's post-apartheid history. To win, incoming ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and his team had to deftly manage the past few days. How did that work?

Protect your delegates

After months of slogging to build a constituency by using regional and provincial coordinators and senior ANC leaders, the campaign had to protect its delegates which numbered about 2,600.

This meant setting them up with accommodation, transport, catering, data and airtime. It meant building a programme of activities to keep them well occupied and also to ensure the delegates were not swayed by fixers making offers of jobs or money in return for votes.

Count your support every day

Every day, the numbers of delegates were counted in caucuses. If you lose your delegates to the competing camp, you will know from attendance at caucuses, which were held every day to assess the balance of forces.

Numbers were checked against the numbers of delegates in buses and at hotels.

Negotiate and cut deals

Ramaphosa's negotiation and deal-making smarts were leveraged to the Nth degree.

In the course of the meeting as the mathematics of the election became clearer, negotiations were held to cut deals. Just ahead of the conference, Ramaphosa invited presidential candidate Lindiwe Sisulu on to his team of candidates as deputy president.

The conference threw up serial conundrums. Later in the week, Mpumalanga joined the team, if the province's leader David Mabuza was made deputy president. The campaign needed the votes.

Have a great final push team

Ramaphosa benefited from a diligent and experienced team on the ground. His core campaign team - Marion Sparg, Bejani Chauke, Steyn Speed and Senzo Mchunu - was bolstered by various national political leaders.

They included national executive committee members Jackson Mthembu, Bheki Cele, Pravin Gordhan, Derek Hanekom, Angie and Mathole Motshekga.

Own the narrative using social media

Ramaphosa's team pushed out a regular flow of videos, images and messages to show the size and unity of his caucus and to send out messages to supporters outside.