20 stories not to ignore in 2013

2012-12-30 10:00

Carien du Plessis, Loyiso Sidimba, Charl du Plessis and Adriaan Basson round up the top political and legal stories for the year to come


Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Chairperson of the AU Commission

Coming off a successful year, in which she did South Africa proud by being elected chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dlamini-Zuma received the most votes of all the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) members in Mangaung, Free State.

Her busy year will start early with the AU summit at the end of next month.

There has been speculation that Dlamini-Zuma, who will be based at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is meant for bigger things at home. But first she will have to prove her skills at the AU.

Cyril Ramaphosa

ANC deputy president

He claims he surprised even himself by getting elected to the second-highest position in the governing ANC this month at Mangaung.

The markets reacted positively to the news of Ramaphosa’s election, while the ANC has ended years of dithering about the nationalisation of mines by declaring itself in favour of a mixed economy.

Ramaphosa, a billionaire businessman, has already stated that he will untangle his business interests to avoid a conflict of interest.

He will have to help President Jacob Zuma unify the ANC and pull alliance partners – labour union Cosatu and the SA Communist Party – into line to enable the party in government to push forward with policies such as finalising laws to regulate labour brokers and implementing the youth wage subsidy.

Helen Zille

DA leader and Western Cape premier

Ambitious about increasing the official opposition’s share of the vote in the 2014 general elections, the DA took advantage of the internal wrangling within the governing ANC leading up to its elective conference in Mangaung this month to show off the party as the alternative party of choice.

Zille was unanimously re-elected DA leader at the party’s conference in Boksburg, Gauteng, last month because members said she was the best person to lead the party’s elections charge.

Expect to see even more of her, making her voice heard in government in Western Cape and traversing the nation to win over new hearts for the party.

Mosiuoa Lekota

Cope leader

Opposition parties joining forces has not been unusual in Parliament this year. This trend is set to continue in the new year.

Lekota favours closer cooperation with other opposition parties, but a full-on merger with the DA might be difficult if Cope does not succeed in convening a national conference – something that has proved impossible in its four years of existence.

Still, this hasn’t stopped Lekota from speaking out or taking his former ANC comrades to court and with President Zuma set for a second term, we can expect to hear a lot more about motions of no confidence in Zuma from this politician.

Lekota and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi successfully challenged the government in court for its refusal to issue the Dalai Lama with a visa.

Pule Mabe

ANC NEC member

It is still unclear whether former ANC Youth League treasurer is part of the league’s leadership. He was supposedly suspended following a motion of no confidence by the league’s national executive committee – a move not fully recognised by Mabe or the ANC.

Mabe’s support for President Jacob Zuma paid off, with him being elected into the governing party’s highest leadership structure, the national executive committee (NEC), this month in Mangaung.

Conference delegates charged the NEC to sort out the leadership problems in the youth league, which is as good as dissolved. Mabe looks set to be in a perfect position to do this.


SA Police Service Amendment Act

Businessman Hugh Glenister is heading back to the Constitutional Court next year after Parliament passed the so-called Hawks Bill in September.

In March last year, the court gave Parliament 18 months to ensure that it passes legislation ensuring that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, or the Hawks, was independent from the SA Police Service (SAPS).

Glenister believes the amended legislation doesn’t sufficiently provide for the Hawks’ operational independence from the SAPS bosses and their political heads.

Traditional Courts Bill

The contentious bill will be debated next year by provinces and Parliament’s select committee on security and constitutional development.

It would have replaced the apartheid-era Black Administration Act.

The bill offers access to justice to about 20 million people who fall under traditional leaders, but critics say it is unconstitutional as it prohibits legal representation in traditional courts.

They also argue that it does not provide for women to be part of the traditional courts and that its decisions cannot be appealed in other courts.

Protection of State Information Bill

The so-called secrecy bill will be hotly contested next year, with labour federation Cosatu already having referred the controversial legislation to its lawyers.

If passed into law, the bill could curb the rights of journalists and researchers.

Opposition parties and the Right2Know campaign have also threatened to take the secrecy bill to the Constitutional Court if President Jacob Zuma signs it into law.

Last month, the ANC used its majority in the National Council of Provinces to adopt the legislation after a walkout by opposition parties.

The Right2Know campaign says the bill still does not fully pass its seven-point freedom test.

Municipal Systems Amendment Act

President Jacob Zuma signed the so-called Cadre Deployment Bill into law last year, but regulations to offset workers’ concerns are still the subject of intense lobbying by organised labour, especially the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).

Samwu is also considering hauling government to the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the legislation, which bars politicians from holding senior local government jobs.

The act prevents municipal managers, and the managers directly accountable to them, from holding political office in any party in any capacity – whether acting, permanent or temporary.

Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill

“Apartheid-like” and “draconian” is how the nation’s top academics describe the bill, which awaits President Jacob Zuma’s signature after being passed by Parliament.

Higher Education SA, the body representing the sector, is also considering court action against the legislation, but wants to meet Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande for discussions in the new year.

The bill gives Nzimande powers to instruct university councils to take action as directed by him. According to the bill, universities must report to the minister quarterly instead of yearly, as is the case currently, sparking fears that university councils will become redundant.

Court cases

Richard Mdluli

A last-ditch attempt to ensure that suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli has his day in court will play out in the North Gauteng High Court next year.

Fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli, related to the alleged looting of the crime intelligence division’s secret fund, were dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in February this year.

Rights group Freedom Under Law will go to court to have the NPA’s decision reviewed and set aside.

In a related matter, suspended crime intelligence finance chief Solly Lazarus and his colleague Heine Barnard will face charges of corruption, fraud and theft in the new year related to the secret service account.

Julius Malema

Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema will argue in April that his corruption case is the product of a huge political conspiracy.

Malema is set to go on trial in the North Gauteng High Court on 51 charges of money laundering, corruption, fraud and racketeering.

He is expected to use the precedent set by the NPA, when it dropped corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma, by arguing that the prosecuting authority has been misused to fight a political battle.

The charges against Malema relate to the alleged irregular award of a R52 million tender by the Limpopo department of roads and transport to On-Point Engineers, a company partly owned by Malema’s family trust.

Jacob Zuma

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is going back to court to compel the NPA to give it full transcripts of the “spy tapes” that cleared Zuma’s slate of fraud and corruption charges in 2009.

In March this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the official opposition could challenge the dropping of the charges and ordered the NPA to file a record of all the material relating to the decision.

This excluded confidential representations Zuma made to the NPA.

The NPA and Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, have refused to release the full transcript to the DA.

The North Gauteng High Court will now have to decide whether the NPA has to dish the dirt.

The Ekurhuleni serial rapist

The case against a 41-year-old man, who faces almost 100 charges related to the rape of at least 40 girls between the ages of 10 and 14, will continue next year.

The girls from Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus in Ekurhuleni (formerly the East Rand) were apparently lured into the veld and raped between 2007 and last year.

At the last court appearance, the NPA said it was still investigating and said there was a possibility of the suspect being linked to more rape cases.

King of the amaMpondo

The Constitutional Court will have to decide over a bitter royal dispute in March that may determine the king of the amaMpondo.

The case has been brought to the court by Justice Sigcau, the paramount chief of eastern Pondoland, who is asking the court to set aside President Jacob Zuma’s acceptance of recommendations identifying Zanozuko Sigcau as the overall king of the amaMpondo.

Zanozuko was recognised as the legitimate king of the amaMpondo by the Nhlapo Commission in 2010.

This made him senior to both ailing eastern Pondoland King Mpondombini Sigcau and western Pondoland King Ndamase Ndamase.



Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation into the state’s R250 million expenditure on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal is a litmus test for her office and for the president.

Madonsela has the powers to subpoena Zuma – who appointed her – to provide answers and documents explaining what exactly his role was in the project.

Leaked letters already proved that Zuma knew what the extent of the project was.

Madonsela’s probes have claimed the careers of ministers Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Sicelo Shiceka, and General Bheki Cele. Will Zuma be next?

Safa match-fixing

The nation’s football governing body is embroiled in a stinking match-fixing scandal following the release of a Fifa investigations report.

The report implicates top SA Football Association (Safa) officials in agreeing to throw Fifa World Cup warm-up matches in 2010.

The Hawks have registered an official corruption probe into the allegations and have already asked Interpol to assist the local police in questioning suspects.

Will this investigation blow open years of maladministration and skulduggery at the football administrator?

The Marikana massacre

The Farlam commission of inquiry will next year continue its attempts to get to the bottom of the deaths of 45 people during the violent strike at Lonmin’s Karee mine in Marikana.

Proceedings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre thus far have seen accusations and counter-accusations fly between legal representatives of the slain miners, the unions, the police and Lonmin.

The commission will have to determine whether the use of force by the police on August 16, when they opened fire and killed 34 miners, was justified.

Tannenbaum and the Ponzi scheme

Three years after Barry Tannenbaum and attorney Dean Rees were implicated in a Ponzi scheme that may have lost investors R12 billion, they are yet to be extradited to South Africa to face trial.

Tannenbaum and his family now live in Sydney, Australia, and Rees is reportedly hiding in Switzerland.

Both the SA Police Service and the SA Revenue Service have been seized with the matter for years, but nobody have been arrested or charged.

Senior anti-graft prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, who was in charge of the case, was suspended by the National Prosecuting Authority on unrelated charges earlier this year and the future of the case is in limbo.

Bosasa Group

One of South Africa’s biggest tender scandals is expected to come to court this year as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prepares to charge Bosasa.

The facilities management company and its affiliates have benefited from multiple billion-rand government tenders, including from the departments of home affairs, transport and justice.

But it was the group’s dealings with the correctional services ministry that have landed it in hot water.

The Special Investigating Unit had already identified bribes paid by Bosasa to senior prisons officials and the case was further investigated by the Hawks.

The NPA confirmed recently that it was preparing to take the case to court.

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