From ‘The Spear’ to Nkandla

Cape Town - The year 2012 has been an interesting year in South African politics:

President Jacob Zuma. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Malema’s membership was suspended with immediate effect by the party’s national disciplinary committee (NDC). This followed Malema’s verbal attack on President Jacob Zuma, a few days earlier, when he called him a dictator and said he was suppressing the league. Malema appealed the decision without success. Two weeks later, his appeal process resulted in his expulsion from the ANC, with immediate effect.

The portrait, by local artist Brett Murray, showed Zuma standing with his genitals exposed. The publication of the image in the City Press provoked an outcry from the ruling party and also fuelled heated debates on social networks. Zuma took the paper and the gallery to court.

DA leader Helen Zille made headlines when she demanded that the government disclose the costs involved and the funder of the renovations, or face court action. She later followed with an “inspection” of Nkandla, with six other senior party members. They were forced to abort their mission a kilometre before they reached their destination, after angry Zuma supporters, many of them armed with traditional weapons, blocked the road.

The ANCYL also launched its Economic Freedom march and threatened to make the city ungovernable. Premier Helen Zille slammed this as unconstitutional and criminal intimidation and called for the league to apologise. They refused. Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille later lodged a complaint with the police about the league’s threats.

Gwede Mantashe was voted in as secretary-general, Jessie Duarte as deputy secretary-general, Baleka Mbete as national chairperson and Zweli Mkhize as treasurer-general.

Fikile Mbalula, Tokyo Sexwale, Mathews Phosa, Thandi Modise and Paul Mashatile were all punished for challenging the leadership status quo, and failed to attract enough votes to make the cut for the key decision-making body.

President Jacob Zuma pledged that the ANC would take “urgent and practical” steps to restore its “core values, stamp out factionalism and promote political discipline”.

Re-elected unopposed, Zille will lead the party into the 2014 elections with a secondary leadership tier peppered with those close to her. They include Wilmot James, who was re-elected federal chairman and, among his deputies, national spokesman Mmusi Maimane.

Doubtless Zille will lead the 2014 election campaign aggressively and with seemingly boundless energy. Even if the elections do not bring the DA its touted takeover of Gauteng and the Northern Cape, they will produce polling success, say analysts.