Zuma was seated next to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and looked on, apparently unmoved.

It is believed it is this moment that may have pushed Zuma to agree to the state capture inquiry, because if he is seen to be refusing to comply with an ANC directive, it would strengthen the argument for his removal.

This will open the way for an injection of fresh blood into Cabinet and the return of veteran ministers who Zuma dumped.

He said the party’s integrity commission would be strengthened and the status of its decisions – which had been treated as advisory under Zuma – would be finalised by June.

People familiar with the weekend discussions said that, after Mabuza left the room, Zuma and Ramaphosa turned to discussing governance, particularly dealing decisively with corruption and state capture. This is a message Ramaphosa emphasised throughout his activities this week.

It is understood that even ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe stood firm on this decision during that session, even as some people raised their hands to speak using the unity ticket.

Ramaphosa hinted at a Cabinet reshuffle, speaking of a need for a complete overhaul in embattled state-owned entities that have been paralysed by state capture. At Friday’s gala dinner, Ramaphosa added fuel to the reshuffle fire when he welcomed guests, including “ministers of president Zuma’s Cabinet”.

Ramaphosa said any crackdown must include “corruption, collusion and other criminal activity in the private sector, which must be fought with equal diligence and determination”.

Many have questioned Mabuza’s “sacrifice” offer. There are suggestions that he is only looking to save his own skin and win favour with the KwaZulu-Natal ANC. Talk in the party is that Zuma’s associates have threatened to release a damning dossier implicating him in wrongful activities, as revenge for betraying Zuma by throwing Mpumalanga’s support behind Ramaphosa at the elective conference.

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