After years of waiting his turn, Cyril Ramaphosa has finally achieved his ambition of being the ANC's number one. But fate dealt him a bad hand.
He inherits the governing party at a time when there is greatest contestation over its legacy. The days of the ANC having the luxury of relying on its liberation dividend are, frankly, over.
If he is able to turn the ANC around, he will be counted among the likes of former presidents of the movement Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela who steered the ANC through difficult times.
This will take a courage that does not fear censure, a courage that Ramaphosa has yet been reluctant to display.
The ANC went into its 54th conference divided.
Heeding the call for unity, the delegates to the conference have produced a top-six compromise that could hinder rather than help his run as ANC president and as possible future president of SA.
He shares the top-six posting with key Jacob Zuma allies in Ace Magashule and David Mabuza who, together with North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, have come to be known as the Premier League.
These staunch supporters and defenders of Zuma will be stumbling blocks.
Ramaphosa ran on the ticket of dealing with state capture - the entrenchment of neopatrimonial tendencies and a parallel shadow state that exists alongside the constitutional state.
Because he is at the centre of this shadow state, dismantling it means dealing decisively with Zuma, beginning with securing his recall from office.
But this will not be easy. Not only will he meet with resistance from within the top six, but his ability to secure Zuma's resignation depends on the balance of forces in the new national executive committee (NEC).