Publication: Cape Argus
Reporter: Chiara Carter
Zuma-ing In on a Year of Alliances and In-fighting
horribilis is how 2005 will be remembered by most ANC leaders who had to contend
with the ongoing fall-out over the Jacob Zuma saga.
From the conviction
of Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, the subsequent court
appearances of Zuma himself in connection with charges of fraud and President
Thabo Mbeki's decision to boot out his deputy, it might have resembled a soap opera to neutral observers, but it all added up to a
very bad year for the country's ruling party.
included the ANC general council's decision to keep Zuma on as the
organisation's deputy president (which, given later developments, the delegates
must now rue), the repeated attempts to contain
hostilities between senior members and figures from the ANC's alliance partners,
and the plummeting of the Zuma camp's aspirations when their hero was charged
The year began on a happier note for mass democratic movement
heavyweight Dr Allan Boesak, who received a presidential
pardon - a move that occasioned howls of
protest from the DA.
Crosstitutes, as floor-crossing MPs were dubbed,
enraged or entertained the public during the window period for MPs and MPLs to
cross to another party.
While judges clutched their heads at being bogged
down in attempts by political parties to stop the flood, the turncoats' antics
included setting up parties with unfortunate acronyms like UIF and, of course,
Craig Morkel's one-person outfit PIM, which wits called pimp.
The defence industry was never far from the headlines, mainly
because of the country's multi-billion rand arms
While corvettes sailed gracefully around False Bay, anti
arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne lived to fight another day after
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel failed in a bid to sequestrate him, former ANC
chief whip Tony Yengeni lost his appeal, arms company Thales
found itself in the dock and failed bidder Richard
Young kept on going with his multi-pronged
battle with the state.
Energy was a matter of public concern, whether it
was the electricity blackouts plaguing Johannesburg and the Western Cape or the
fuel shortages that grounded flights and panicked holiday motorists at
Meanwhile, those who did not have electricity continued to use
candles and paraffin and terrible fires claimed the lives and homes of the
It was, by and large, another upbeat year for finance
minister Manuel who gloated over the tax coffers, and
5.1% growth rate while the public were cheered by tax cuts and promises of
increased social spending.
Gaffes ranged from poor taste to, well, more
poor taste. There was IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi's attack on handicapped MP
Gavin Woods. There was the DA's ill-considered
attempt to highlight child rape by dangling thousands of panties on lines across
the Cape Flats. But a canine took first prize for having the temerity to do its
doggy business under Buthelezi's bench, occasioning a poo probe at
A mid-year shuffle at the top of the public sector saw Home
Affairs director-general Barry Gilder swop hot seats with National Intelligence
coordinator Jeff Maqetuka, a move that, given the unseemly turmoil within the
spook world, Gilder must have regretted.
In was: local area protests that
flared up periodically, T-shirt burning to express support for Zuma,
developmental state speak and denouncing corruption as long
as it wasn't in one's backyard, so to speak.
Also very in were the
conspiracy theories and intrigue that gripped the ANC and its partners for much
of the year. Was there a conspiracy? Against whom? By
whom? Was there a conspiracy about a conspiracy? Were there hoax e-mails?
Were they real? Who was behind them? And so the thread of the various factions
wove wondrous webs, often etched by the Stalinist influences of the past *1.
its fair share of headlines. Pius Langa became the country's new Chief Justice,
a major judicial system review was said to be in the pipeline, and the fate of
the elite and controversial investigative unit, the Scorpions, continued to hang
in the balance, awaiting the final report of the
The race card continued to flash from time to time
and in place to place, but whatever the rights and wrongs of the legal
profession's claims and counter-claims, clearly the problems of racism and
transformation seethed within the judiciary - and nowhere more so than on the
Cape Bench where back-stabbing and ill-considered comments and accusations were
the order of the day. That is, until a lid was put on the tensions ... watch this space.
The murder of mining magnate, Zuma
supporter and social causes benefactor Brett Kebble sent shockwaves around the
Hit especially hard were the beneficiaries of Kebble's largess,
notably certain ANC Youth League (ANCYL) figures with smart cars. The murder remains unsolved. *2
Local government was
the locus for much concern given ongoing lack of capacity, mismanagement,
corruption and lack of delivery.
The long list of local grievances to be
found in poor communities countrywide, and reaction to development occurring in
some areas rather than everywhere, erupted into sometimes violent protest
The value of Madiba art plummeted when former president Nelson
Mandela took legal action against his old confidante and lawyer, Ismail Ayob,
and business associate Ross Calder over their marketing of art supposedly
created by Mandela.
Ngcuka again became a household name - this time not
the former national director of prosecutions but his wife, Phumzile, who was
chosen to become the country's number two after Zuma was fired.
household names faced the boot as the move to get the country's names to be more
representative of its people got under way.
Out went: Jacob Zuma,
cross-border municipalities, Travelgate MPs who plea-bargained, and social grant
fraudsters arrested around the country in a crackdown.
The DA played
party pooper, sniffing out the cost of the various ministers' budget parties,
finding out that while Public Service and Administration believes in doing
things rather too well, some ministers either opt for freebies from sponsors or
even nothing at all.
Questions, questions and dammed questions. Question
time in the house continued to provide opposition politicians with a chance to
quiz government, but parliamentary questions made Safety and Security Minister
Charles Nqakula see red.
He protested that to answer the DA's many
queries would use up valuable time and money, and he tried to stop answering but
those pesky questions kept coming.
As for the reds ... Cosatu turned 20
at the end of a year when the federation made headlines mostly because of
Zwelinzima Vavi's staunch support for Zuma - a support that mirrored that of the
SA Communist Party.
Lemming-like, the left
lurched for much of the year into a cul de sac called
Presidential Hopes of Jacob Zuma. The year-end saw their hero's chances
of becoming the next president all but scuppered by an accusation of rape
levelled against the former deputy president by the daughter of a former
Now the question is whether the alliance partners and their
sympathisers in the ANC will be able to find another credible candidate, or
indeed platform, which can wield influence in the face of those ANC leaders
whose leanings are rather better-heeled.
Prominent ANC businessman Saki
Macozoma made headlines when it emerged that his complaint about allegedly
illegal surveillance by NIA operatives led to the suspension of three top
Travelgate, the multi-million rand travel voucher scandal,
continued to pop up in the courts, with MPs past and present arrested, some
plea-bargaining and others facing civil claims from
Liquidation hearings revealed yet more strange goings on
with the taxpayers' money shelled out to the implicated travel
By year-end, the official who had been the backbone of
parliament's probe into the rip-off, Harry Charlton, had been frog-marched out of parliament, apparently facing
disciplinary proceedings relating to claims of racism
and exceeding his authority in okaying certain processes.
the head that wears the crown, goes the saying, and Mbeki must have had more
than a few uneasy moments as the Zuma support campaign snowballed. However given
recent history, still more uneasy must be the head of anyone who would aspire to
succeed Mbeki - and word has it that most are ducking well
below the parapets.
Unmourned and barely noticed, the NNP
officially vanished this year. Most of its remaining elected representatives
were embraced by the ANC and it is not certain what happened to the party's
The government, meanwhile, continued to track down missing state
properties, notably in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. One property that did
not vanish but was very publicly flogged was the National Intelligence Agency's
Sunset Beach, Cape Town, luxury mansion, a property that opposition parties
denounced as a folly.
Also virtually invisible was government's response
to the Oilgate scandal.
The Western Cape ANC continued to be bedevilled
by in-fighting despite electing a new regional executive and having to prepare
for a tough battle in local government elections in Cape Town next
Ex politicians and civil servants were among the elite that
continued to benefit from BEE, often close to home,
despite soul-searching and debate within the ANC and the alliance.
ANCYL and the Young Communists provided a great deal of sound and fury over the succession battle for much of the
year, but that did not mean the ANCYL did not have space on its website for
things that matter to South African youth, such as flotation, an exotic way to
And back to Zuma ... with two court cases pending, 2006, like
2005, might well be another Zuma-dominated year. That is along with more
succession speculation, more hot
air and more tedious debates ... Play it
With acknowledgements to Chiara Carter and Cape Argus.
*1 No, the
*2 Are we sure this was murder?