The wild ride will con­tinue in 2018

The New Age (Gauteng) - - COMMENT -

THIS year will be re­mem­bered as one of fac­tion­al­ism in the ANC, a frag­ile econ­omy ex­ac­er­bated by po­lit­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion, yet untested state cap­ture al­le­ga­tions and a wake-up call that all is not sound in the holier-than-thou pri­vate sec­tor.

The ANC’s 54th con­fer­ence ended, yet to many that it hap­pened at all was an achieve­ment in a year when the op­po­si­tion and many in the ANC wanted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma out be­fore his term was over.

It was not his role, intense con­tes­ta­tion over top posts, fac­tion­al­ism or any­thing else that nearly brought the con­fer­ence to blows, but the ques­tion of the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC pres­i­dent with a top six that in­cludes com­rades from his slate and ri­val Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s slate. It is not with­out irony that the con­fer­ence passed res­o­lu­tions closer to his ri­val’s poli­cies than his “new deal”, set­ting the scene for a year of more intense pol­i­tics.

This was a year where much that di­vided civil so­ci­ety re­mained un­re­solved. State cap­ture took cen­tre stage but the em­pha­sis on one fam­ily was un­palat­able to many who saw it as my­opic and not tak­ing into ac­count the in­flu­ence of mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal on gov­ern­ment con­tracts.

Af­ter the fir­ing of Pravin Gord­han as fi­nance min­is­ter, the Gupta fam­ily was forced to exit or plan the exit from most of its busi­nesses. De­spite broad sup­port, how­ever, the com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture re­mains tied up in the courts.

De­spite wip­ing more than R16.5bn off gov­ern­ment pen­sion schemes, much of the me­dia has pussy­footed around the big­gest pri­vate sec­tor scan­dal when CEO Markus Jooste sud­denly re­signed from Stein­hoff due to “ac­count­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties”.

Spec­u­lat­ing on the role and fu­ture of the South African Re­serve Bank and the de­bate about what is con­sid­ered to be the un­fet­tered power of the bank­ing sec­tor cre­ated more heat than light and will con­tinue into 2018 and prob­a­bly into 2019.

In homes and on the streets, it was clear that the au­thor­i­ties have not yet been able to fix crime and trend­ing hash­tags like #MenAreTrash, af­ter the mur­der of Karabo Mokoena and #MeToo, in which women in­clud­ing singer Jen­nifer Fer­gu­son de­tailed their sex­ual as­saults, brought the vi­o­lence in our so­ci­ety into sharp relief.

This was a year of liv­ing dan­ger­ously close to the edge and the de­ba­cle over so­cial grants brought us within a whisker of a dis­as­ter. An 11th-hour deal bro­kered by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court oblig­ing Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices to con­tinue pay­ments for an­other year while sassa, the Depart­ment of So­cial Devel­op­ment, Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini, Black Sash and oth­ers grap­pled with how to pay the ap­prox­i­mately 17 mil­lion grants. In De­cem­ber, with just months to go be­fore this ex­tended so­lu­tion comes to an end, a so­lu­tion seems to be at hand but the ef­fi­cacy of this new deal will once again go down to the wire. There could be lit­tle com­fort in know­ing that South Africa was not the only coun­try in the eye of a storm. Zim­babwe did the un­ex­pected and ditched Robert Mu­gabe and his overly am­bi­tious wife Grace. Across the ocean, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump clung onto his Twit­ter habit to shock his na­tion and at times the world.

As we look back with won­der at 2017 there is a sober­ing re­minder that most of these is­sues re­main un­re­solved ... 2018 is sure to start with a bang.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

HU­MAN POWER: Chil­dren ride a man­u­ally-op­er­ated Fer­ris wheel in a slum in Mum­bai, In­dia.

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