16 to 20 December 2017 saw most South Africans and political pundits closely observing the African National Congress’s 54th National Elective Conference at Nasrec. There were plenty of international observers and local and foreign press who were closely tracking the ANC top brass and branch delegates as they jostled for political power and position. The air was thick with anticipation and high with suspicion.
Former student activist, member of the then Mitchells Plain Student Congress (Mipsco), COSAS national leader and now ANC member in good standing, Oscar van Heerden once again found himself doing duty in the resolutions drafting team at the ANC’s National Conference. What he witnessed in the period leading up to the conference and then the five days of high drama at Nasrec make for an enthralling and insightful insider’s view. Van Heerden’s observations lay bare a governing party that is at war with itself. At the heart of this struggle is deception, corruption and power-hungry politicians flexing their muscles. Factional infighting, money in bags exchanging hands in the dead of night, spies on duty and a political party in the clutches of state capture are some of the political moves that Van Heerden witnesses and now shares in his book. Van Heerden’s assertion after the first two days of the conference is that the Cyril Ramaphosa camp, also known as CR17, did not stand a chance of winning. To him they seemed disorganised, at times not understanding the modalities of election politics at the conference, and had arrived at the gun fight with a knife.
How then did the tide turn against the obvious pro-Jacob Zuma camp to favour CR17? What really happened behind closed doors to secure the narrow margin of victory?
Walk this journey with Van Heerden and see why, with the upcoming ANC National General Council in June 2020, the fight for our country’s leadership is far from over, begging the question: Will Ramaphosa’s ANC survive?