The ANC's new president Cyril Ramaphosa probably didn't get too much sleep on Monday night after he returned to his plush home in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
The wonderfully fulfilling moment when he was announced leader of the ANC, completing a journey initially thwarted by Thabo Mbeki in 1997, quickly evaporated when the names of the rest of his team were read out by the electoral commission's Bontle Mpakanyane.
Ramaphosa and his team had anticipated working with Mpumalanga strongman David Mabuza because they knew when it came down to it, they had to get the ANC's second largest province on board. But the election of Free State chairperson Ace Magashule visibly floored the newly elected ANC president. He was make-believe nice when Mabuza came in for a shoulder bump after his election, but when Magsahule's name was announced, he didn't flinch or move and simply stared straight ahead.
When he was welcomed home by his wife, Tshepo, a medical doctor, he probably would have expected to be visited by these nightmares in the early hours:
1. DAVID MABUZA CAN FLIP AT ANY MOMENT...
A close working relationship between ANC president and the deputy isn't a prerequisite for a workable leadership. Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki worked well, Mbeki and Jacob Zuma did not, and at the end, Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe fell out, as did Zuma and Ramaphosa. Mabuza is a dark horse, and although we don't know it for sure, it seems like he opted for Ramaphosa over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. There could have been a deal and it could have gone either way. Mabuza won't have any lasting loyalty, being the character he is.
2. NO-O-O-O-O! THE ANC IS NOW RUN BY ACE MAGASHULE AND JESSIE DUARTE!
If Ramaphosa managed to get back to sleep after being freaked out by Mabuza, he would have sat bolt upright in bed when visited by the image of Free State premier-for-life Magashule and Zumaïte Jessie Duarte in the office of the secretary, running the ANC. The secretary-general is the most powerful position in the party: it runs the daily affairs of the party, is in charge of operations and the bureaucracy. Magashule has turned the Free State into his personal fiefdom, plotting and planning to ensure his continued rule in the party and, lately, provincial government. He is deeply – deeply – involved with the Guptas. And Duarte? Well, she's aligned with the Zupta network of patronage and power. And she campaigned against CR17.
3. WHAT? UP TO 18 MONTHS WITH JZ AT THE UNION BUILDINGS?
The next general election will, at the latest, be contested in June 2018. If the ANC doesn't recall him, Zuma will remain head of state for the next year and a half. Which means that old chestnut of two centres of power, one residing in the ANC headquarters at Luthuli House and the other in the seat of government at the Union Buildings, becomes a headache once again. Remember, "two centres of power" was one of the arguments used to recall Mbeki in the heady days of 2008. But prospects of recalling Zuma don't look good, and Ramaphosa remains Zuma's subordinate in government. In party context, that's the other way around. He has to find a way to implement ANC policy and his mandate through Zuma, who is, to put it lightly, not a friend. A real, real nightmare.
4. PAUL MASHATILE IS A DEPENDABLE ALLY... OR HIS HE?
Mashatile was in with Zuma, then fell out and retreated into the safe embrace of the Gauteng ANC, where he built up a large support base after he became provincial chairperson. Also, David Makhura is a technocratic provincial premier. He has worked hard against Zuma, mobilising the urban constituency against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Ramaphosa's vanquished challenger. But Mashatile is a man with many smallanyana skeletons, having been part of the so-called "Alex mafia", a group of ANC cadres and activists from Alexandra who have risen up the ranks. He has been implicated in various scandals, with allegations of tender rigging and patronage following him since his days as a Gauteng MEC. He is ambitious, he has a strong network. Just how dependable is he?
5. A DIVIDED NEC: DEADLOCK AND BACKSTABBING
The top six is split straight down the middle. Adding up all the votes cast for the six candidates and the margin between CR17 and the other side is negligible. Ramaphosa can circumvent this if he controls the NEC, the ANC's highest decision-making body. If he can, it would mean that it would be much easier to implement his programme of action and that Ace, DD and Jessie will struggle to sabotage it. But if the NEC is also split down the middle, paralysis and deadlock are going to be the name of the game. And if that happens, backbiting and backstabbing will be at the order of the day.
Good morning, Mr President! Did you have a good night's rest?