The year 2016

CityPress - - Voices -

This time last year, South Africa was a ball of de­pres­sion. The pres­i­dent had fired a highly com­pe­tent and re­spected fi­nance min­is­ter and re­placed him with a strawweight politi­cian whose skills were only known by his stokvel and his con­gre­ga­tion.

For­tu­nately, the pres­i­dent had been forced to re­verse his de­ci­sion four days later and in­stall a com­pe­tent in­di­vid­ual who had pre­vi­ously held the job. By the time the de­ci­sion was re­versed, the mar­kets had bled hun­dreds of bil­lions of rands and South Africa’s in­ter­na­tional stand­ing had been badly tar­nished.

The most de­press­ing mes­sage from that episode was that the high­est of­fice in the land had been cap­tured by an un­scrupu­lous fam­ily who were now run­ning the coun­try by re­mote con­trol.

The year 2016 was to prove even more de­press­ing as more rev­e­la­tions emerged about the ex­tent of the cap­ture. In­sti­tu­tions of gov­er­nance, swathes of the gov­ern­ing party and state-owned en­ter­prises had been taken over by a Mafia cen­tred on the dirty fam­ily. This par­a­sitic Mafia had pen­e­trated deep into the coun­try’s body politic and was even feast­ing on the bone mar­row.

South Africa ends 2016 on a very dif­fer­ent note than the one with which it ended the pre­vi­ous year. There is a “thus far, no fur­ther” mood in the coun­try. We can trace crys­talli­sa­tion of the fight­back to April when the pres­i­dent and the gov­ern­ing party – in their re­sponse to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s Nkandla judg­ment – treated the 56 mil­lion South Africans like im­be­ciles.

An an­gry na­tion re­tal­i­ated by tak­ing to the streets and, im­por­tantly, by pun­ish­ing the gov­ern­ing party in the Au­gust lo­cal elec­tions. Years of pent-up anger burst into the open in the form of vot­ers back­ing the op­po­si­tion or with­hold­ing their sup­port for the party that had brought them free­dom. ANC stal­warts and veter­ans who had bot­tled their frus­tra­tion out of loy­alty found their voice and took on the party lead­er­ship. The ANC’s par­lia­men­tary cau­cus de­cided to do what MPs are sup­posed to do and be­gan to hold pow­er­ful peo­ple to ac­count.

The shenani­gans of the dirty fam­ily and their acolytes were ex­posed in the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­port and me­dia cov­er­age, spark­ing more anger.

Mem­bers of the ANC’s national ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, some of them openly, took on the pres­i­dent in an un­prece­dented dis­play of courage.

So, 2016 draws to a close on a some­what op­ti­mistic and pos­i­tive note. We are not out of the woods yet, but we can see rays of sun­shine through the thick.

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