Ace, Ace baby!

2017-12-18 21:51
In the middle of the shouting and celebration, Ramaphosa and NDZ take a moment to embrace. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

In the middle of the shouting and celebration, Ramaphosa and NDZ take a moment to embrace. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – Cyril Ramaphosa bows his head, the smile he has been sporting since he was announced as ANC president fading fast.

It is just after 19:00 in the Nasrec Expo Centre's main plenary hall, and cries of AAAAAce! AaaaCE!" echoes from the high roof.

"Haaaa!" gasp journalists, sitting in front of the stage, some lifting their hands in surprise as the electoral agents read out the name Ace Magashule, followed by the number 2 360, then that of his competitor for ANC secretary general, Senzo Mchunu, and the number 2 336.

Gwede Mantashe pulls out his phone, starts typing. Seconds later, he calls the electoral agent, wanting to confirm the numbers, then nods his head.

Then Ramaphosa calls her, he said something to her, she answers, and it seems that he says: "Oh, Ace."

Mantashe then wants to see the laptop, and the agent brings her laptop to him, seemingly showing him the numbers.

Meanwhile, Free State premier Magashule strides to the stage, the cries of AAAAAce! AaaaCE!" still echoing through the hall.

He shakes the hand of everybody already on stage – newly appointed president Ramaphosa, deputy president David Mabuza and national chairperson Mantashe.

The official announces that Jessie Duarte retains her position as deputy secretary general.

Senzo Mchunu slowly walks to the stage, going to the first agent sitting next to the stairs, who ushers him to the agent sitting furthest away. The agent shows him some papers.

After a minute or so, he nods, and proceeds to shake the winners' hands, awkwardly hugging Ramaphosa. After a brief chat, he leaves the stage, his face dejected, deflated, defeated.

Through all of this, President Jacob Zuma sits virtually emotionless, as he did when Ramaphosa was announced as his successor, defeating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

This is in contrast to his demeanour during the long wait for the announcement of the results. He smiles and waved at journalists, takes photos with his cellphone of photographers, drinks at least three cups of tea and, by popular demand, leads the delegates in song. First, Inde Lendlela, then Awu'lethu umshini wam.

Just before the announcement, he and the other NEC members take their seats among the delegates, sitting in the first row. The first speaker of the democratic Parliament, Frene Ginwala, sits at the end of that row.

Similarly expressionless during the announcements is Zweli Mkhize, outgoing treasurer general and failed presidential candidate.

The defeated candidates, and Zuma, make their way to the stage to shake hands with the new top six. Dlamini-Zuma, smiling, hugs Ramaphosa, whose smile has returned. Lindiwe Sisulu, who, for much of the wait for the announcement, sits on her own, wearing earphones, hugs and kisses Mabuza, who defeated her for the deputy president spot.

The new top six pose for photos, holding each other's hands in the air. As a minister is brought to the stage for a prayer, the media is ushered out, past the large contingent from KwaZulu-Natal.

They were boisterous throughout the open session, but now they are deathly silent.


Read more on:    anc  |  ace magashule  |  anc leadership race  |  anc votes

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