What went down in 2016

CityPress - - News - MONDLI MAKHANYA mondli.makhanya@city­press.co.za

Zim­babwe’s Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe seemed to be on steroids yes­ter­day when he opened Zanu-PF’s national con­fer­ence in Harare. He lashed out at what he called a cul­ture of “in­dis­ci­pline, dis­re­spect, con­tempt and ar­ro­gance” among party mem­bers, and sternly told them that “there are rules to be obeyed”.

The 92-year-old Mu­gabe, who plans to stand for an­other five-year term in 2018, also lam­basted those who said he had over­stayed his wel­come.

“If you no longer want me, what do you think should be done when oth­ers still love him [Mu­gabe] … It does not hap­pen that way, whether you are a de­tainee, a war vet­eran or a long-serv­ing mem­ber of the party. We do not do that.”

He told the gath­er­ing not to air “our griev­ances through Twit­ter” and not to feed the pa­pers with news of in­ter­nal quar­rels.

Com­par­ing op­po­si­tion par­ties to con­fused in­sects that die once crushed, he charged that they were de­void of ideas to trans­form the econ­omy.

He then re­turned to his reg­u­lar bo­gey­man of for­eign forces, say­ing: “Ex­ter­nal coun­tries that have been hos­tile to us, and all this time ex­pected that Zanu-PF and the Zanu-PF govern­ment shall lis­ten to them, and that there shall be regime change, have failed to achieve that. There has not been regime change and there shall not be regime change.”

South Africans are for­given if these sen­ti­ments sound fa­mil­iar. We have been hear­ing much of the same lately as our dearly beloved Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has gone on a road show, plead­ing with peo­ple to feel sorry for him.

Mem­bers who speak out­side of party struc­tures are ill-dis­ci­plined, he has charged. Veter­ans and stal­warts should raise their is­sues within the or­gan­i­sa­tion, has been an­other re­frain. He is go­ing nowhere soon as he was elected by the peo­ple, he has re­minded those who want him to go and tend his live­stock. And the pres­i­dent has been scathing of ANC mem­bers who voice their frus­tra­tions with his lead­er­ship in the me­dia.

When he gets on his “feel sorry for me” plat­form, one of Zuma’s favourite themes is to be­lit­tle the op­po­si­tion by say­ing they have no orig­i­nal ideas and ex­ist only to take on the ANC. Like his brother-leader north of the Lim­popo River, Zuma has not been shy to blame his woes on for­eign pow­ers. His nar­ra­tive goes along these lines: Be­cause he led South Africa into the five-na­tion group known as Brics (Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa), the Western pow­ers are scared of his Cas­tro-like rev­o­lu­tion­ary, anti-im­pe­ri­al­ist zeal. The year 2017 will be a huge one for the two men. Mu­gabe’s brain is likely to ex­pe­ri­ence ac­cel­er­ated de­te­ri­o­ra­tion and his knees will buckle more of­ten. His lungs will be able to take in less and less oxy­gen, bring­ing closer the thing that hap­pens when peo­ple are un­able to breathe.

As for Zuma, he will dance and sing less in 2017 as his party turns on him with more vigour. The spec­tre of or­ange over­alls will also loom large over him as the long-run­ning chal­lenge over the drop­ping of charges against him comes to a head, and the myr­iad cases laid against him by var­i­ous groups en­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tion stage.

These were the themes that de­fined 2016 and will in­flu­ence 2017: SMALLANYANA and BIGANYANA SKELETONS The year 2016 was one in which the small and big skeletons tum­bled out of the clos­ets. It was the year in which what most peo­ple knew was con­firmed: that the Gup­tas are the real govern­ment of South Africa.

Through a slew of me­dia in­ves­ti­ga­tions, pub­lic dec­la­ra­tions by serv­ing and for­mer politi­cians and govern­ment of­fi­cials, and the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s probes, it was re­vealed that the fam­ily called the shots on big state de­ci­sions. So much so that Cabi­net min­is­ters them­selves did not know who among them re­ported to the Gup­tas and who was a gen­uinely ap­pointed ser­vant of the peo­ple.

All of these rev­e­la­tions made South Africans un­der­stand what the ever-chew­ing Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, Batha­bile Dlamini, meant when she told the world that in the ANC lead­er­ship “we have our small skeletons, and we don’t want to take all skeletons out be­cause hell will break loose”. COWS, CHICKENS, FIREPOOLS AND THE CON­STI­TU­TION Ar­guably, the big­gest event of 2016 was the Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s land­mark judg­ment on the Nkandla mat­ter. The mas­terly rul­ing brought to an end a dis­gust­ing episode which saw the pres­i­dent and the gov­ern­ing party soil the pil­lars of our demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion. The judg­ment, read out by Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng, not only con­firmed the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s pow­ers but also re­minded us all of the sanc­tity of the Con­sti­tu­tion. It was rather strange that it needed a case about one man re­fus­ing to pay for the ac­com­mo­da­tion of his chickens and cat­tle, and for the wa­ter in his pad­dling pool, to force us to re­fo­cus on con­sti­tu­tional val­ues and prin­ci­ples.

THE BLIND LEAD­ING THE ILLITERATE A real video clip, cur­rently in cir­cu­la­tion, has SABC strong­man Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng ad­dress­ing an au­di­ence in his Gooblenglish. “On the is­sue of should I go back to school, the an­swer is a big NO.” That force­ful state­ment says ev­ery­thing about the state of af­fairs at the SABC and in the coun­try. Two key in­sti­tu­tions – the national govern­ment and the pub­lic broad­caster – are in the hands of peo­ple whose lit­er­acy lev­els are as lim­ited as whisky in Iran, and who are un­will­ing to en­hance their knowl­edge lev­els. Worse, while most poorly ed­u­cated peo­ple are hon­est and prin­ci­pled, these in­di­vid­u­als use their low ed­u­ca­tion as a cover for shenani­gans.

At the SABC, a sup­pos­edly ed­u­cated chair­per­son, who claims to have writ­ten a book called Teach­ing Bi­ol­ogy to Blind Learn­ers, stooped to new lows by us­ing his dis­abil­ity as an ex­cuse for wrong­do­ing.

Again, while many blind peo­ple are high achiev­ers, Mbu­la­heni Magu­vhe crassly and dis­hon­estly abuses his vis­ual im­pair­ment.

At state level and pub­lic broad­caster level, the chancers will spend this Christ­mas pre­sent­ing a false sense of bravado, while in­ter­nally they will be bit­ing their nails as they look into 2017. ISIBAYA VIBES “The days of dis­re­spect­ing de­ci­sions of the National Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) are over,” said NPA boss Shaun Abra­hams as he an­nounced that he would be charg­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han for lit­ter­ing, rowdy be­hav­iour and park­ing his car on the high­way. A few weeks later, he dropped the charges, lead­ing to howls of laugh­ter and even greater dis­re­spect for his of­fice.

Abra­hams’ con­duct was em­blem­atic of the state of the se­cu­rity clus­ter, where the lead­er­ship has been more in­ter­ested in play­ing political games than en­sur­ing the safety of South Africans.

They have turned the state se­cu­rity sec­tor into an episode of Isibaya (which stars Nomzamo Mbatha), the se­ries about taxi bosses and hit­men.

As 2016 closes, the bosses and hit­men are turn­ing on each other, which sets the scene for an ugly 2017 – and more scenes that re­sem­ble Isibaya.


Nomzamo Mbatha POLITICAL LAND­MARK Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s home in KwaNxa­m­alala in Nkandla. The home­stead has un­der­gone an ex­ten­sive re­vamp, which re­port­edly cost the tax­payer R203 mil­lion Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng

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