"Ace Magashule is a definite no no no, the man will finish what is remaining of our movement. He will kill it.
" These were the prophetic words of Fikile Mbalula, now the ANC’s head of elections, ahead of the party’s 2017 elective conference at Nasrec. Now, it’s not every day that you put "Mbalula" and "prophetic" in the same sentence, but there it is. Even more unlikely: Mbalula is right.
Yet, at the same time that Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president of the ANC and ushered in a "new dawn", Magashule was voted in as secretary-general. It said much about internal ANC battles that the party, while talking tough about "cleaning up", elected the man who destroyed the Free State during his nine years as premier to a post seen as the party’s CEO, responsible for communicating its message to the electorate. The Nasrec conference also chose David Mabuza as deputy president — a man who, as The New York Times wrote last year, was implicated in siphoning money from schools and other public services in his home province of Mpumalanga to "buy loyalty and amass enormous power".
It illustrated crisply the single point on which EFF leader Julius Malema and DA leader Mmusi Maimane agree: Ramaphosa’s "new dawn" was over the day it started. Magashule and Mabuza threaten to be as dangerous for Ramaphosa as Jacob Zuma was for Thabo Mbeki. In 1997, Zuma was elected as Mbeki’s deputy in the ANC, becoming deputy president of the country in 1999.
Over the next few years, the claims of corruption in the arms deal mounted against Zuma.