To put it mildly, the year 2018 has been an interesting one. Whether it has been a good or bad year for you, there’s no doubt it has been a challenging one for South Africans.
We’ve had a change in president, a technical recession, seen more high-profile names coming forward to detail outrageous levels of corruption during the Jacob Zuma reign, witnessed the looting of the VBS Bank and felt growing racial tensions among a nation that seems divided.
Finishing the year with load shedding would have left South Africans feeling tired when thinking about what unfolded in 2018.
But we did get a new president in Cyril Ramaphosa. As a result of the outcome at the ANC elective conference in Nasrec at the end of 2017, Zuma eventually accepted his fate and resigned in February.
With the words “I devote myself to the wellbeing of the republic and all of its people, so help me God”, Ramaphosa on February 15 became the fifth democratic president of South Africa, reiterating his call for a “new dawn”.
He’s had his hands full, though, trying to not only fix an ailing economy by wooing international investors, but to keep control of his own party ahead of next year’s elections.
Malusi Gigaba, Shaun Abrahams and Tom Moyane, despite digging in their heels for the most part of the year, rightfully made way.
Ramaphosa brought back former finance minister Pravin Gordhan as minister of public enterprises and Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister. However, Nene didn’t see out the year after admitting to having visits with the controversial Gupta family, and then resigning. Former governor of the South African Reserve Bank Tito Mboweni replaced him as finance minister.
In August, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, finally started. It has since seen many former and current ministers, leading business people and experts dropping explosive evidence as to how the country was captured.
The new year promises even more disturbing revelations.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and Gordhan have laid charges against each other, the spat between the Democratic Alliance and Patricia de Lille finally ended with the Cape Town mayor resigning and forming her own party, while the SA National Editors’ Forum has taken Malema to court for hate speech.
So what can we hope for in 2019?
First and foremost, there must be peaceful and fair elections. The country must vote wisely when going to the polls and hold those they voted in accountable for their actions.
Second, how land expropriation without compensation will go ahead is not clear. The sooner it is made clear, the better.
Last, a number of the state-owned enterprises are in disarray. Gordhan has been tasked with fixing them. If we are to have any chance of finding our feet from an economic point of view, Eskom, the SABC and SAA have to be fixed once and for all. They are putting a drain on the country.
From a sporting point of view, 2018 wasn’t a bad one. Team South Africa finished the Commonwealth Games in Australia in a respectable sixth position with 13 gold medals and 37 medals in total, while the Blitzboks won their second Rugby Sevens Series title in a row.
The Springboks beat the All Blacks in Wellington, the Proteas defeated world No 1 India and Australia, exposed for ball tampering, on home soil, and Bafana are one hurdle away from qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Next year provides Banyana Banyana, the Proteas and the Boks all with a chance of World Cup glory.
So here’s hoping 2019 is a good one, both for us as individuals and for South Africa.