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By Angela Quintal, Moshoeshoe Monare and Murray WIlliams
Fallen "Mother of the Nation" Winnie Madikizela-Mandela surged back into power on Thursday night as the ANC purged itself of many of President Thabo Mbeki's key lieutenants.
It began on Sunday with ANC delegates insisting on change and it ended in the early hours of this morning with exactly that: a new-look leadership with Jacob Zuma at the helm for the next five years.
While Zuma preached unity in his closing address at the party's national conference at Polokwane, his supporters ensured that the majority of the additional members on the enlarged 86-member National Executive Committee (NEC) were either one of them, or at least approved by them.
Leading the list was former ANC Women's League president Madikizela-Mandela, up to first place from sixth place in 2002; Jessie Duarte, up to sixth place from 58th; and the SACP's Jeremy Cronin, up to fifth place from 45th.
ANC Youth League president Fikile Mbalula, a key Zuma ally, was elected in 15th place and received particularly warm congratulations from Zuma.
One of the high-profile losers is former ANC chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota.
He came 98th, while Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the woman who succeeded Zuma as deputy president of the country, followed at 99th. Both failed to return to the NEC.
Among Mbeki's cabinet ministers who were sent packing were Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin, Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula, Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Mbeki's Presidency Essop Pahad, Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.
Also out are the head of the ANC presidency, Smuts Ngonyama, and the director-general of the Presidency, the Reverend Frank Chikane.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who was number one on the ANC popularity stakes in 2002, dropped to number 57.
His public spat with Zuma's supporters did little to endear him.
A surprise survivor was Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, while government policy guru Joel Netshitenzhe scraped home too.
The new NEC is widely seen as another Zuma victory over Mbeki. Despite this, though, the top 10 represents the full spectrum of factions - those of Zuma, Mbeki and the Zuma-supporting Left.
Survivors from Mbeki's Cabinet include Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, Arts Minister Pallo Jordan and Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla.
Also included in the top 10 is former deputy secretary-general and Mbeki supporter Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele.
They are matched by leftists such as the SACP's Jeremy Cronin and Blade Nzimande, and top business leaders Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa although the latter slipped from first place in 1997 to 30th.
Although the NEC elections were not a clean sweep, the top 80 additional names are predominantly key Zuma supporters.
A new Capetonian member is former mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo.
The new NEC list also contains the so-called "walking wounded", those who were purged by Mbeki or facing criminal charges, such as fraudster Tony Yengeni (up from 43 to 21), former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi, former intelligence chief Billy Masetlha, former Eastern Cape MEC Enoch Godongwana and sacked Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge.
Several premiers seen to be aligned to Mbeki were also roundly rejected, such as the Western Cape's Ebrahim Rasool (102) and the host premier, Limpopo's Sello Moloto (110).
Mbeki, who will become an ex officio member of the NEC, was not present for the results and will hold a press conference this afternoon at his Pretoria official residence.
A senior ANC source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of the NEC: "It has some balance, it's not a factional list.
"Some of the 'inner kring' (inner circle), the people who ran the Mbeki project over the past 10 years, have been kicked out.
"They are the people who have lost touch with the membership. These are the people who led the ANC to be at war with itself."