Cape Town - A month in politics can feel like an entire year given the speed at which things progress after a scandal erupts. And this year had no shortage of whirlwinds - from tweets about colonialism to birthday cake sagas, Western Cape politicians had tongues wagging.
The MEC for Human Settlements rose to the top of the ranks of the DA in the province earlier this year when he was elected interim leader of the party in the province in February following the resignation of Patricia de Lille.
Madikizela emerged victorious at a conference held in Worcester on February 25, beating DA chief whip in the City of Cape Town Shaun August and MPL Lennit Max.
Two months later, a blue and white birthday cake with a R3000 price tag given to Madikizela at a lavish party held at the One and Only luxury hotel triggered an investigation by the Provincial Legislature’s Conduct Committee because he failed to disclose a gift over R1500, in accordance with the legislature’s rules. What followed were accusations of political mudslinging, resignations and heated debates during the committee’s investigation.
The chairperson of the conduct committee turned out to be the man who would run as his opponent, Lennit Max. A few months into the investigation, advocate Mario Maasdorp, who was leading the probe, resigned, followed by Max as the chairperson.
A few weeks later, Madikizela beat Max by a few votes at the provincial congress to be the DA leader in the Western Cape.
Known for her vigour on social media, the Premier of the Western Cape landed in hot water in March when she tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative think of our independent judiciary transport infrastructure piped water.”
After receiving widespread criticism for her perceived defence of colonialism as well as a talking-to from the DA’s leadership, Zille apologised for her comments. DA national leader Mmusi Maimane announced Zille had been removed from decision-making structures in the party but would remain premier.
This did not sit well with the ANC in the province, which pushed for a vote of no confidence in Zille as premier but, given the DA’s majority, the motion failed.
Last year was no walk in the park for the ANC’s former provincial chairperson, Marius Fransman, after his suspension from the party and its leadership following a disciplinary investigation into allegations that he’d sexually harassed employee Louisa Wynand in 2015.
This year, exactly 12 months after he resigned from the provincial legislature and lost a court bid to avoid appearing before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), a confident Fransman walked back in to account for millions identified by the Auditor General (AG) as having been spent on consultants at two government departments of which he had been the political head as MEC.
In July, Scopa was briefed by accounting officers from the departments of public works and transport and of health, based on the AG’s report into the use of consultants in both departments.
The report was based on findings made on a sample of 11 consultancy projects with contracts amounting to R625million for health, while 20 of the audited projects for public works stood at R328m.
After a heated sitting with Fransman, the committee was left divided on whether to continue with the matter or declare it as settled. It will be back on the agenda next year.
The ANC’s Dullah Omar region
The party’s largest region in the province was disbanded in June. The ANC’s provincial leadership said the reason was its poor performance in last year’s municipal elections where the DA maintained its hold on the City of Cape Town municipality and received a two-thirds majority.
The decision was, however, reversed by the ANC’s national executive committee.