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Political stories that grabbed headlines in 2021

Religious leaders, members of civil society, along with the Kwazulu-Natal provincial executive, led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, walked the streets of Phoenix and the neighbouring township of Bhambayi in aid of peace between the two fractured communities following the mass riots and looting in July. SUPPLIED

Religious leaders, members of civil society, along with the Kwazulu-Natal provincial executive, led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, walked the streets of Phoenix and the neighbouring township of Bhambayi in aid of peace between the two fractured communities following the mass riots and looting in July. SUPPLIED

Published Jan 1, 2022

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Cape Town - 2021 was another roller-coaster year for South Africans. The year marked a full year with the Covid-19 pandemic, and disruptions of people’s lives continued.

At the beginning of the year, one would have thought that since 2021 was a local government elections year, elections would be the biggest story for the year. This was not the case. In fact, the elections hardly make it to the top three of the biggest political stories of the year.

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Here are some of the top political stories in the country.

The arrest of former president Jacob Zuma

It has been on most people’s minds that the former president will one day be jailed, but no one imagined that it would happen so soon and in the manner it did. Zuma was sentenced for contempt of court after failing to attend the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, a probe into corruption during his presidency. The former president has always denied any involvement in corruption and always said he would have his day in court. Zuma resigned in 2018 under the threat of impeachment and believes that charges against him are politically-motivated.

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July unrest and looting

Following the arrest of Zuma, South Africa suffered the worst riots since apartheid. The unrest was also the bloodiest, as at least 342 people died during this time. Many believed the riots were triggered by the jailing of Zuma, while others said the growing inequality in the country and failure by the government to lift people out of poverty will always be a ticking bomb.

Suspension of Ace Magashule

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Embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was suspended by the party in May. This destabilised Magashule’s faction, which is linked to former president Jacob Zuma. Despite threatening defiance and pulling antics, he failed to have his suspension lifted. The battle between the two factions in the ANC will go down to the elective conference, where current president Cyril Ramaphosa will be vying for a second term.

Dr Zweli Mkhize and Digital Vibes

He was prominent in South Africa’s Covid-19 response. He spoke with authority, and citizens believed in him until a shocking revelation about him was made. A probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found Mkhize guilty of "a distinct lack of oversight" over the contract worth around R150 million that was awarded to Digital Vibes.

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DA qualification scandals

The official opposition party faced a number of qualification scandals that started with provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela. He was exposed for putting an incomplete degree as complete in his CV. Madikizela later resigned both as the provincial leader and MEC. Xanthea Limberg and JP Smith followed with qualification scandals of their own. The DA said it completed its investigations to the pair, but only Limberg seems to be affected by the scandal as she did not return as a Mayco member.

ANC performance

The oldest liberation movement continued to show a decline in support at the local government elections. They lost all big metros as opposition parties formed partnerships to govern. This painted a scary picture, and many experts believe that come national government elections, the ANC would dip below 50% if they do not get their house to order.

Rapist mayor

Convicted rapist Jeffrey Donson was elected Kannaland Mayor. In 2008, Donson, who is a member of the Independent Civic Organisation of SA (Icosa), was convicted for the rape of a 15-year-old girl during his tenure as mayor. After local government elections, Icosa formed a coalition with the ANC and made Donson a mayor. This prompted an uproar, and the ANC had to cut ties with him. The appointment made international headlines.

Weekend Argus

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