Jacob Zuma announced his resignation as president to the nation in February. File picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Jacob Zuma announced his resignation as president to the nation in February. File picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

2018: The year that shook the nation

By Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Dec 29, 2018

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Samkelo Mtshali and political analyst Thabani Khumalo look at 12 months that changed SA’s political landscape.

1. Former President Jacob Zuma’s resignation from the Presidency in February

The resignation of former president Jacob Zuma on the night of February 14 tops the list.

The ANC emerged from its 54th National Elective Conference in Nasrec in December under the command of Cyril Ramaphosa, whose faction defeated Zuma’s ex-wife Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and Zuma’s days as number one were numbered.

Previous parliamentary attempts to get rid of Zuma had proven unsuccessful, but this time it was his own party that did it.

A see-saw ensued in which the newly elected ANC National Executive Committee’s top officials attempted to get Zuma to step down.

Thabani Khumalo says Zuma’s resignation saw the country breathe a collective sigh of relief as there had been growing discontent at the Zuma presidency.

2. Zuma’s nine-year reign crumbles and Ramaphosa’s New Dawn emerges

The ink which penned Zuma’s resignation was barely dry when Ramaphosa was ushered in as the country’s new head of state on February 15. He delivered his State of the Nation Address the next day and urged South Africans to seize the changing of the guard as a moment of hope.

Khumalo believes that Ramaphosa coming in “was a chance for the ANC to say they needed to refresh, redirect the country and a rebirth of some sort”.

3. Land Expropriation Without Compensation debate

The expropriation of land without compensation has been one of the burning debates of the country over the course of 2018 after the ANC adopted the policy at its 54th national elective conference in December last year.

Ramaphosa told the nation that it had become patently clear that the majority of people wanted the constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation.

Thereafter, countrywide public hearings were held on the issue of expropriation and Ramaphosa stated the property clause enabled the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation and expropriation without compensation in the public interest.

Khumalo says that when it comes to land expropriation, Ramaphosa finds himself compromised because it was a decision of an ANC conference.

“We know that he has been going out trying to lure foreign investors and every country he has been to one question being asked was around expropriation of land without compensation and he has struggled to convince investors that this can possibly happen responsibly,” he said.

4. State Capture Inquiry - Zondo Commission

The State Capture Inquiry, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has been another major flashpoint in the country’s political landscape.

Attempts have been made to bring to the surface evidence of alleged rampant corruption and state capture shenanigans during former president Zuma’s reign and still continue. Already, former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has been one of the victims of this investigation into corruption as he was forced to resign in October.

During his testimony, it emerged that he had met the controversial Gupta family, despite denying this two years earlier.

Khumalo said that the inquiry had brought some hope among the population that something will be done to root out corruption. Until then, people had lost hope that anything would be done, but now there is enough evidence to prosecute.

“The inquiry has shed light on several issues and shown that there is enough evidence to prosecute and enough evidence to have everybody believe that there has been state (capture) in the past few years,” he said.

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