By Moshoeshoe Monare
An attendance register of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) shows a conspicuous absence of the organisation's embittered former president.
The former president was humiliated by his own organisation's NEC, something precipitated by a painful rift with his successor.
This former ANC president is Nelson Mandela.
So, it was an ironic deja vu when President Thabo Mbeki stayed away this week from a hostile NEC under his successor Jacob Zuma.
The election of Zuma's allies to the influential national working committee (NWC) will also widen the rift between the two men.
Mbeki now commands a centre of power through the state and cabinet, while Zuma fortified his authority in the ANC and NWC.
The acerbic tone of the new ANC leadership this week signals an explosive rupture between the two centres of power.
"There is no government and ANC, the ANC is the party that leads government," says ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
He was responding to a question about the party's coming NEC lekgotla which will set policy directives for government.
Tomorrow, the new ANC leadership will display its firepower by indirectly telling Mbeki how to run government when the organisation releases its annual policy statement to mark its 96th birthday.
ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe once complained about Mbeki's cabinet ignoring ANC decisions.
He is the man who once said the ANC was not "a subcommittee of cabinet".
This week, the new treasurer-general Mathews Phosa announced a special committee to investigate the arms deal, which could compel Mbeki to account. "We are not government, we are a party," he says.
Phosa, Motlanthe, Mantashe and Zuma are part of a powerful NWC that will certainly tilt the ANC to the left of centre (read government) in what will be 18 months of ferocious animosity between the party and the state.
This could speed up or cripple government's service delivery machinery.
Most of the 20 members of the NWC are either leftists, centrists who clashed with Mbeki, or ardent Zuma supporters with a controversial political track record.
These include Collins Chabane, Bathabile Dlamini, Pallo Jordan, Fikile Mbalula, Angie Motshekga, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Siphiwe Nyanda, Blade Nzimande Jeff Radebe, Lindiwe Sisulu, Max Sisulu, Makhenkesi Stofile, Tony Yengeni. (See details below).
Other NWC members include controversial foreign affairs official Jessie Duarte, Northern Cape MEC Tina Joemat-Pettersson, MPs Ncumisa Kondlo and Nathi Mthethwa, former controversial Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, Mpumalanga politician Dina Pule and Deputy Safety Minister Susan Shabangu.
Mantashe defended this committee as non-factional.
However, the two centres of power schism, and this committee's ability or inability to continue to watch government after 2009 elections will prove him wrong, or vindicate him.
Collins Chabane: A highly respected veteran Limpopo politician whose ambition to become premier was thwarted by Mbeki and, ironically, Ngoako Ramatlhodi before the latter turned against the president.
Lindiwe Sisulu: Housing Minister. When she was Intelligence Minister, she is said to have advised Mbeki ag-ainst accusations that Mathews Phosa, Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale were involved in a coup plot.
Pallo Jordan: Arts and Culture Minister. Mbeki's intellectual peer whose personality clash with the president led to his demotion to a backbencher for years.
Fikile Mbalula: The outgoing ANC Youth League president. He is responsible for catapulting Mbeki to power and for deposing him.
He remained an Mbeki loyalist until the succession battle drastically pushed him towards Zuma.
Jeff Radebe: Transport Minister who felt marginalised by Mbeki after his demotion.
He has tried but failed to revive his political profile in the SACP central committee, only to resurface in the ANC's senior structures.
Makhenkesi Stofile: Sports Minister. He was the Zuma camp's initial candidate for the party chair. They wanted him to neutralise the Eastern Cape, which was swaying towards Mbeki.
Siphiwe Nyanda: Ex-defence force general who took an early retirement after a cold relationship with Mbeki. His appointment to the arms deal committee is likely to reveal untold stories of the biggest arms purchase since 1994.
Blade Nzimande: SA Communist Party general secretary. He is credited for orchestrating Mbeki's downfall, after indirectly prodding Cosatu and SACP towards Zuma.
Tony Yengeni: Former ANC chief whip convicted for an arms deal-related car discount kickback. His bitterness will certainly see the disbandment of the Scorpions which stung him.
Angie Motshekga: Gauteng Education MEC who contested the ANC provincial chairpersonship last year on a Zuma ticket, but lost.
Max Sisulu: ANC economic transformation department head. He apparently blames Mbeki after he was passed over as CEO of Denel.
He had clashed with Mbeki in exile.
Bathabile Dlamini: ANC Women's League secretary-general who was instrumental in steering the league towards a shocking Zuma vote.
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane: The Limpopo MEC is tipped to take over from premier Sello Moloto (who supports Mbeki) next year.