5 local news stories that sent SA into a tailspin in 2016

2016 has been whirlwind when it comes to political uncertainty and economic stability, both locally and abroad.

Here are some political events that caused a stir in South Africa this year:

1. The dropping of Gordhan charges

NPA boss Shaun Abrahams dropped fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and two former Sars executives.

The charges were initially laid in relation to approving an early retirement payment to former Sars official Ivan Pillay during Gordhan's tenure as Sars Commissioner.

Abrahams maintained that there was no political influence in his earlier decision and refused to apologise to Gordhan.

President Jacob Zuma asked Abrahams to motivate why he should not be axed.

2. The ConCourt ruling on Nkandla

In February, the Constitutional Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma failed to uphold, defend and respect the rule of law in the Nkandla spending saga.

The court found that Parliament failed in its duty to hold Zuma accountable for the debacle through the Public Protector's remedial action.

Zuma was order to pay bay the money for non-security upgrades to his private homestead.

This resulted in the DA's first attempt to impeach Zuma this year; the second try would later come after the State of Capture report was released.

3. Hlaudi Motsoeneng's changing job title

Hlaudi Motsoeneng was given a new role at the SABC after the Suprememe Court conceded that his appointment as COO was unlawful in September.

Shortly thereafter, Motsoeneng was put in a new position of SABC's group executive for corporate affairs.

Fast track to December, and the High Court ruled that the SABC bigwig must be removed from his position and should not occupy any position at the public broadcaster.

Meanwhile, it's reported that Motsoeneng scored R33 million bonus from and SABC-Multichoice deal.

At the same time, an inquiry into the SABC board's fitness to do its work has been heard.

4. The eventual release of the state capture report, and ensuing fallouts

The State of Capture report, by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, was finally released on 2 November.

This, after nationwide protests and several attempts to gag its release by the Presidency and other Cabinet ministers.

The report recommended that President Jacob Zuma appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture and the influence of the controversial Gupta family.

The report revealed that Minister Des van Rooyen allegedly visited the Gupta's private residence in Saxonwold seven times ahead of his short-lived appointment as Minister of Finance last year.

(Remember that re-shuffle which saw three finance ministers in one week?)

It also placed Eskom CEO Brian Molefe at the same Saxonwold home (or was it a shebeen?), and he has since announced his resignation effective January 1.

5. Student protests and 2017 fee announcement

This year has been marked by ongoing student unrest, over the exclusionary economics of tertiary education.

Students from universities nationwide embarked on protests and disruptions, which led to some early campus closures and revised exam timetables.

Protests also sparked debates about protests tactics, movement factions, heavy-handed policing and the role of academia.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that university fee increases for 2017 would be capped at 8%.

Nzimande says universities should individually determine the annual increase, but it should not exceed 8%.

Meanwhile, the answer to the feasibility of free varsity fees (and how) will only come at the end of the Fees Commission of Inquiry in June 2017.


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