The year 2016
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.