While 2016 was the Year of the Monkey, according to the Chinese calendar, it was also a period that wreaked havoc in South Africa.
This is the view of Cape Town-base political analyst Sanusha Naidu, who argued that the outgoing year delivered many unpredictables for South Africa and the rest of the world. She cited the victory of the opposition against the ruling ANC in the August local government elections and the controversial election of Donald Trump as the next US president, among other things.
She said 2016 was characterised by a series of turbulent episodes that centred on uncertainty and instability, both on the political and economic fronts, and closed with a multitude of unfinished business that would return to haunt the country in 2017.
The year also saw several precedent-setting high-profile legal cases, such as the Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla and how parliament had to deal with the Public Protector’s reports.
“We ended the year on a political and economic low. The country is still pretty much on tenterhooks, with its economy at a 23-year low and having failed to create the necessary jobs,” Naidu said.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Citizen, Naidu said the #FeesMustFall movement was most likely to rise up again and resume its protests.
“We are going to end up with the #FeesMustFall movement delaying the opening of universities, because this matter was not resolved in 2016,” said Naidu.
Besides, she said, 2017 could see the Gupta family staging a fightback against the commercial banks that closed their accounts, as they want to clear their name. She said the Jacob Zuma corruption case and return of Nkosazana-Dlamini-Zuma to the country’s political fold would dominate the political debate in 2017.
“With Dlamini-Zuma’s return, the so-called lobbying space will become much more intense going forward. It will also be interesting to see whether a cabinet reshuffle will happen after the January 8 ANC statement,” said Naidu.
Dlamini-Zuma, who is the outgoing chairperson of the African Union Commission, may be pitted against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in a battle to succeed Zuma for both the ANC and the country’s presidencies.
Naidu mentioned the State of Capture report, produced by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, as another bit unfinished business. Madonsela recommended a commission of inquiry to probe the allegedly unsavoury relationship between Zuma and the Guptas and Eskom’s role in the matter. But Eskom’s board, former CEO Brian Molefe, Zuma and the Guptas plan to take the report on court review.
She said the sudden awakening of parliament to the importance of separation of powers between the legislature and the executive, wrapped up the year nicely. She commended the manner in which the ad hoc committee on the SABC performed during its hearings into the matter.
“At this momentum, it will be interesting to see what recommendations the committee will come up with,” said Naidu.