30/12/2017 07:35 SAST | Updated 30/12/2017 07:36 SAST

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's Loss Is The Greatest Heist In South Africa

This was a heist; but it's not just NDZ who was robbed –– it's the people of South Africa who were robbed of her, and that is a travesty.

Rogan Ward/ Reuters

The loss of the ANC presidency by the first woman candidate for that position ever should go down in history as the greatest heist the country has ever seen. It was an inside job planned and executed by the Machiavellian cat, Mr DD Mabuza.

Now that the votes have been counted and the numbers are in, we can with some degree of accuracy attempt to reverse engineer them, reconstruct the crime scene and postulate what could have happened inside those private voting booths, as many others have sought to do in the days after the ANC's national conference.

You can call this exercise "CSI Nasrec".

I think we can all agree that the race was always going to be tight; that was expected –– and the results confirmed that.

Cyril Ramaphosa won the presidency with just 51.9 percent of the vote, a slim margin by any standard, but Ace Magashule cut it even finer when he won the position of secretary-general with a mere 50.2 percent –– this speaks to just how tight the race was.

NDZ leads

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had, however, pulled ahead on the first day of the conference, when Mabuza and his "unity" followers -- who had before then not endorsed any candidate -- appeared alongside the NDZ camp in an open field.

The gathering was to do a headcount; counting the number of voting delegates who had chosen to join her side, to determine whether or not her camp had the required majority.

Mabuza and his "unity" followers sang "Rise, Rise Nkosazana", and at that moment, nailed his colours to her mast.

The numbers from then on showed that the NDZ crowd numbered slightly more than half of the entire conference voting delegates. With a headcount of the crowd standing at just over 2,500, NDZ had a tentative lead of around 300 more than the CR17 camp.

Inside the hall, her lead manifested itself in the way the NDZ camp buoyantly and confidently drowned out the CR17 camp in song and slightly outnumbered them in the visuals beamed onto the screens –– even in how they took charge of debates and made their presence felt.

They were so confident of their numbers, they insisted on reversing a decision to postpone voting to the next morning, and demanded that voting be done throughout the night. Even though it was tight, the journalists inside the hall were also starting to cautiously predict an NDZ victory.

They have condemned us to 30 years of unbroken rule under men whose names pop up in corruption investigations, tax evasion scandals and murder inquiries.

When the voting process began, the camps separated themselves into two groups. This was to ensure that the leaders were able to keep an eye on the headcount and monitor any defections. None occurred, and the NDZ camp was set for a resounding victory.

'Hands up; this is a stick-up'

Then, just after the break of dawn on Monday morning, around 200 Mpumalanga delegates were called to cast their votes. As they walked into the voting area, they switched allegiances and literally changed tunes –– they substituted the words "Rise, Rise Nkosazana" in a song they were singing with "Rise, Rise Ramaphosa".

The crowd was stunned and in disbelief. A political heist was now in progress.

Even the other side was shocked. Ramaphosa supporter and former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola gave an interview a few hours later, wherein he said it felt to him like the Holy Spirit had interceded and something supernatural had occurred, to get the Mpumalanga delegates to change at that dying moment of the game.

However, senior NDZ lobbyists realised that what they had always feared had just happened. Mabuza had just betrayed the NDZ camp and got his small army of "unity" voters to switch allegiances.

At that moment, they realised they had just been robbed blind.

Waldo Swiegers/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images
Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's deputy president and newly elected president of the African National Congress party (ANC), right, embraces opponent Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during the 54th national conference of the African National Congress party in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017.

Cyril Ramaphosa won because Mabuza supporters voted for him, DD Mabuza won because NDZ supporters voted for him, and NDZ lost because Mabuza supporters didn't vote for her.

DD Mabuza may have staged the greatest heist in South Africa, but the politico-media industrial complex was complicit, as it also was with Zuma ten years ago...

The heist is complete

I call this the greatest heist the country has ever seen not only because of the subterfuge, the skullduggery, the forked-tongued speech of a Machiavellian cat, the cloaks and daggers, the smoke and mirrors –– there was lots of that –– but its also because South Africa has been robbed of the opportunity to have potentially the best president for the country since Nelson Mandela.

NDZ is highly educated; a medical doctor by training. She has a bit more cabinet experience than Thabo Mbeki had when he became president, and all four of South Africa's democratic presidents have called upon her leadership skills set.

She has 18 years of senior cabinet experience, 15 years in international cooperation and the diplomatic community, and five years of in-depth exposure to the continent and an insider's knowledge of Africa's challenges.

She has proven experience in turning around ailing institutions, and she's a technocrat par excellence with the ability to build organisational capacity that remains strong long after she has left –– the international relations department is a well-oiled machine; a highly functional bureaucracy.

Home Affairs was transformed from Horror Affairs to a modern-day technology-based organisation that operates in the 21st century. The department of health was expanded and put on the right path –– towards a caring department that operates with the principles of "batho pele" ("putting people first").

That is the rich experience that was stolen from us.

Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during the Gordon Institute of Business Science forum in Illovo on August 29, 2017, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The getaway car

Respected media people who have great ability to think deeply, reason well and analyse issues critically suddenly allowed themselves to be co-opted into the public lynching of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma via innuendo, speculation, non sequitur argumentation and all other forms of obfuscation that took us away from evaluating the leadership qualities of each of the candidates, their individual experience, and their potential to transform the lives of our people.

As a result, South Africa found itself lost in the noise of screaming headlines that said NDZ is corrupt because Carl Niehaus is corrupt, she's corrupt because Bathabile Dlamini is corrupt, Kebby Maphoetswe, Jacob Zuma, the Guptas are corrupt, therefore she must be corrupt.

DD Mabuza may have staged the greatest heist in South Africa, but the politico-media industrial complex was complicit, as it also was with Zuma ten years ago. It has ensured that the country will limp from a scandalous Zuma presidency to a scandalous Ramaphosa presidency and almost certainly to a scandalous Mabuza presidency.

They have condemned us to 30 years of unbroken rule under men whose names pop up in corruption investigations, tax evasion scandals and murder inquiries.

This was a heist, but it's not just NDZ who was robbed –– it's the people of South Africa who were robbed of her, and that is a travesty.