2011: The Year of Juju

Mar­i­anne Merten looks back at tough pe­riod for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - The pub­lic pro­tec­tor Odds and ends, no dis­re­spect in­tended

the govern­ment takes pos­ses­sion of the new planes: the ten­der is cur­rently be­fore the courts af­ter a bit of a bungle.

And as if pub­lic works had not kept up a suf­fi­ciently hor­rid rep­u­ta­tion this year, what with lease scan­dals, in­ter­nal cor­rup­tion and the like, there was also the ten­der to sup­ply 45 posies a week to the pres­i­dent and his deputy’s homes – where the main­te­nance of pot plants has also gone out on ten­der – and a se­ries of other flo­ral re­quire­ments. Then there was the ten­der for 596 rose bushes at the of­fi­cial min­is­te­rial es­tate in Pre­to­ria, although those min­is­ters who live in pri­vate homes also qual­ify for free gar­den ser­vice. Be­tween tack­ling in­ves­ti­ga­tions into two cabi­net minis- Ma­tric­u­lant Thomas Fer­reira was crit­i­cally in­jured and in a coma af­ter be­ing knocked off his bike by the of­fi­cial car of Gaut­eng lo­cal govern­ment and hous­ing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi. While he and Gaut­eng premier Nomvula Mokonyane apol­o­gised, it took sev­eral days for po­lice to ar­rest and charge the driver.

The jog­ger who gave the pres­i­den­tial blue light con­voy the mid­dle finger last year, Chu­mani Maxwele, is still wait­ing for an apol­ogy from Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa for be­ing bun­dled into a car and locked up in a jail cell for the week­end. That’s af­ter the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion found in July his rights had been vi­o­lated.

In Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, the trial of two VIP pro­tec­tion unit po­lice­men on six counts of at­tempted mur­der and un­law­fully fir­ing a pis­tol is fi­nally un­der way af­ter the 2008 in­ci­dent in which shots were fired at a car, ap­par­ently too slow to get out of the way of Kwazu­luNatal MEC Me­shack Radebe. The court heard in Novem­ber the po­lice fired be­cause they feared for their lives af­ter the driver of the Mazda braked re­peat­edly.

A pe­ti­tion against the blue light bri­gade was signed by op­po­si­tion party lead­ers – the DA’S He­len Zille and the Free­dom Front Plus’s Pi­eter Groe­newald – while it ap­pears Trans­port Min­is­ter Sbu Nde­bele, who led a prayer day for road safety, has been un­able to per­suade any of his col­leagues to do like­wise. Sta­tis­tics South Africa con­ducted Cen­sus 2011 – a R3bn project in­volv­ing over 150 000 enu­mer­a­tors who knocked on the doors of an es­ti­mated 15 mil­lion house­holds – which should give the govern­ment re­li­able sta­tis­tics to work from.

Bri­galia Bam, who led the Independent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion for 14 years, re­tired and former chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Pansy Tlakula is now at the helm.

A com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the multi- bil­lion rand arms deal was an­nounced and should get down to work next year. How­ever, the cricket bonus scan­dal is un­der scrutiny by a min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee, with­out pow­ers to sub­poena or call wit­nesses.

National Plan­ning Min­is­ter Trevor Manuel hit the cir­cuit with his com­mis­sion’s di­ag­nos­tic re­port, which iden­ti­fies nine chal­lenges to SA’S fu­ture, in­clud­ing the lack of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and un­em­ploy­ment, but is op­ti­mistic that this is a plan be­hind which all South Africans can unite.

And COP17 show­cased Dur­ban’s at­trac­tions, but its im­pact re­mains to be seen.

PIC­TURE: SIZWE NDINGANE

STIR­RER: Self-styled free­dom fighter and ir­re­press­ible motormouth Julius Malema.

BLACK WEEK: Chair­man of The National Press Club Yusuf Abram­jee ad­dresses a crowd dur­ing a protest against the govern­ment’s Pro­tec­tion of In­for­ma­tion Bill.

ANGER: A pro­tester out­side the Ficks­burg Mag­is­trate’s Court for the ap­pear­ance of the po­lice who killed An­dries Tatane.

BRASSED OFF: Sus­pended com­mis­sioner of po­lice Bheki Cele.

AXED: Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Works Gwen Mahlangu-nk­abinde lost her job over the po­lice lease de­ba­cle.

BRIGHT SPARK: Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in Par­lia­ment Lindiwe Mazibuko.

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