The Merafong debacle finally answers the burning questions in local politics: who now calls the shots in the ANC and will the ruling party's policies change?
Paul Mashatile, premierelect in Gauteng, let the cat out the bag this week. The Merafong municipality, including poverty-stricken Khutsong and the mining town of Carletonville, will be returned to Gauteng, he said.
Merafong's inclusion into dismal North West set off one of the longest and nastiest running battles in South African politics since 1994.
Led by the South African Communist Party, a small band of local malcontents indulged in every form of political thuggery imaginable to fight the demarcation.
But the ANC dug in its heels and insisted the unpopular move was in the national interest. No one ever explained why, but these interests held sway despite orchestrated street protests, arson attacks and murder.
The ANC quickly denied Mashatile's claim that it has decided to reincorporate Merafong into wealthy Gauteng, but the writing has been on the wall since Polokwane.
There the SACP, Cosatu and the Youth League captured the party and they spearheaded the mayhem in Khutsong. And a once-proud liberation movement now dances to a new master's tune.