The Zuma faction within the ANC was stunned with disbelief that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma failed to get the nod as the organisation’s president at the elective conference last year.
The victor, Cyril Ramaphosa, has doggedly gone about honouring his promises to root out corruption and state capture and Jacob Zuma’s supporters have adopted a generally low profile.
But that appears to have changed recently … perhaps as the penny starts to drop that the bell is tolling and it might be well tolling for them, as well as Zuma.
Some of Zuma’s former staunch backers have already realised which way the political winds are blowing and have changed their allegiance quicker than a chameleon changes its colours.
Malusi Gigaba, one of the people who has been at the heart of state capture allegations, has been reinvented as Ramaphosa’s financial sidekick and even mouthy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula – who was tweeting his love for Dlamini-Zuma right up until the end of the conference – has changed his social media tune.
Yet, even though days are dark for Zuma, some of his allies are prepared to go down fighting.
Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi did the unthinkable (at least to reasonable people) last week and appointed disgraced Dudu Myeni (she of putting SAA into a tailspin fame) as a special advisor.
Then Free State Premier Ace Magashule – who is in the sights of the Hawks over the Gupta-linked Vrede project (or should that be money laundering scheme?) – vowed that Zuma was not about to be removed, accusing those who suggested this of being “populists” and “factionalists”.
Another Zuma ally, Jessie Duarte, said much the same thing a few days ago.
We hope Magashule’s and Duarte’s comments are not signs of a bitter fightback against Ramaphosa.
Zuma and his allies must accept that their time is over.