Recounting The Wildest Moments Of SA Politics In 2019

It’s that time of the year where we look back at all the interesting events that have taken place. 2019 has had its fair share of exciting events, especially in the political sphere. The Daily Vox team rounds up eight of the most shocking political moments. Compiled by Fatima Moosa.

There was an election

This year has left like many years in one but let’s remember that it was just a few months ago – in  May that we went to the polls. The sixth democratic election took place. The African National Congress (ANC) got the majority of the vote but suffered a significant shrinkage in their share of the vote. Cyril Ramaphosa was inaugurated  as the president of the country and the sixth parliament began its work (or not). But the biggest losses of the election were felt by the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) which leads us to the next point. 

Return of Helen Zille

Helen Zille rose from political death in October this year to take over the position of the DA’s federal council chairperson. After her colonialism comments and various other controversial comments on Twitter, Zille was slowly removed from the frontlines of the DA. Zille however proved that nobody is ever gone in politics when she announced she would be running for the position. She got in. And the DA hasn’t been the same again.  

The DA imploding

In the leadup to Zille’s election, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba vowed that he would leave the party if Zille returned. Just days after Zille’s election Mashaba announced that he would be leaving his position at mayor as well as the DA. During his announcement, Mashaba was accompanied by Mmusi Maimane. A few days later it was the turn of Maimane to announce he would be leaving the party and stepping down as leader. Athol Trollip also resigned from his position in the party. While Maimane appeared to be stepping down after the party’s bad showing at the elections, the return of Zille – and the DA’s old guard –  played a role. 

Discussions around the disbanding of the EFFSC 

During a press conference just weeks before the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) national conference, leader Julius Malema announced that there were discussions around the possible disbandment of the EFF Student Command (EFFSC). Malema had reportedly mentioned that forming the EFFSC was an “ill-advised mistake”. During the party’s conference, this will be discussed. 

Apartheid flag

The Nelson Mandela Foundation brought a case in the Equality Court calling for the apartheid flag to be delcared as hate speech. Right-wing group Afriforum opposed the application which the court ruled in favour of. The court declared that displaying the apartheid flag without good reason constitutes hate speech. The case came about after the apartheid flag made an apperance during the 2017 Black Monday protests against the supposed high rates of farm murders. 

Pravin Gordhan, The Public Protector And The EFF

There’s always lots of beefing between politicians in South Africa but 2019 was the year of the strangest political crossovers, alliances and fights. This year it was a fight between public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, the EFF and public protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhebwane. The PP released a report saying that Gordhan had set up a rogue unit within the South African Revenue Service (Sars). She called for Gordhan to be removed from his ministerial position. The EFF appeared in the picture defending the PP and her report. They called any attempts to discredit the report as an attack on Mkhwebane. 

Blade Nzimande returned to Higher Education

There weren’t that many changes from Ramaphosa’s previous administration except for one big surprise. Blade Nzimande returned to the position of the newly combined department of higher education, training, science and technology. Nzimande had previously held the position from 2009-2017. He was in charge of the department during the height of the Fees Must Fall protests. Many students were surprised, and not entirely happy with the president’s decision. 

Fallists went to Parliament

Speaking of Fees Must Fall, the sixth parliament features a number of student activists involved in the Fees Must Fall protests. ANC Nompendulo Mkhatshwa joined EFF members Naledi Chirwa, Peter Keetse, and Vuyani Pambo as members of parliament (MP). The student leaders have mostly been working in the background within committees. However, Chirwa and Mkhatshwa used their time during the State of the Nation debate to raise awareness about Kanya Cekeshe, a FMF activist who is surviving an eight year sentence.