Ramaphosa, state capture and load shedding - the 10 most popular columns of the year

2019-12-22 08:04
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza congratulate each other at the ANC's Nasrec conference. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza congratulate each other at the ANC's Nasrec conference. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla

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Between the national elections, the Zondo commission revelations about state capture, the Rugby World Cup and load shedding, there has been plenty to opine about in 2019. Here are the year's 10 most popular opinions and analysis published on News24.


ANALYSIS | Rashied Staggie: Last of the Cape Flats' OGs (December 13)

"Ek verkrag nie mense nie. Ek is 'n brutale moordenaar." Loosely translated this means: "I don't rape people. I'm a brutal murderer." It was the early 2000s and Hard Livings gang boss Rashied Staggie was on trial for rape in the Western Cape High Court, sitting in the Wynberg Regional Court. During an adjournment, Staggie casually approached journalist Yunus Kemp to proclaim this truth about himself. Staggie was shot dead in Salt River, Cape Town in December this year. In the end, as is the case with the rules of the streets: the hunter inevitably became the prey, wrote Kemp, now Opinions Editor at News24.

Read the full article here.

Herman Mashaba: An open letter of apology to all South Africans (January 25)

When the year started, it was with an air of hope around what President Cyril Ramaphosa might achieve as the head of state after a decade of mismanagement under the previous president.

Herman Mashaba, the DA's controversial Johannesburg mayor (who has since resigned) quickly threw cold water on South Africans' sense of Ramaphoria, apologising to his fellow citizens for previously voting ANC. "I believe it is time for people who have voted for the ANC in their lives, to come forward and recognise that their votes have been used in a concerted effort to destroy our country," Mashaba wrote.

Read his full open letter here.

Adriaan Basson: Ramaphosa's 3 biggest challenges right now (May 13)

After finishing off Jacob Zuma's term, President Cyril Ramaphosa was officially sworn in as president of the republic on May 25 after 57.5% of the electorate voted for the ANC with his face on the ballot paper. "Ramaphosa's power will immediately be challenged from Luthuli House as the Zuma camp regroups to undermine and ultimately unseat him," News24 editor Adriaan Basson wrote. The election results centre's lights were barely switched off and ANC secretary general Ace Magashule started waging psychological warfare against Ramaphosa, who had to contend with the continuous undermining of his reform agenda from members of his own party throughout the rest of the year.

Read Basson's full column here.

Melanie Verwoerd: My f*k, DA! (October 9)

The DA scored many own goals in 2019, all of which culminated in a considerable drop in its support in the general elections in May and the resignation of the party's top leadership. But none left News24 columnist and political analyst Melanie Verwoerd as exasperated as former party leader Helen Zille's announcement that she would make herself available for the position of DA federal chairperson. Zille is credited for building the DA into the country's official opposition with electoral support of 22% in 2014 but has been a divisive figure in the country and party over the last few years, leading many to doubt whether her return is the right thing for the DA.

Read Verwoerd's column here.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Jan Gerber, News24


Adriaan Basson: The cost of Julius Malema's lies (August 12)

When the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard arguments from the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on the EFF's hateful approach against journalists who report critically on the party, Julius Malema brazenly repeated his favourite lie about Pravin Gordhan "masquerading as Sanef". Like Donald Trump, Malema only believes his own "alternative facts" and thinks that if he repeats them enough it will drown out the facts. Like Trump, he may, unfortunately, be right. But there is a cost to Malema's lies, wrote News24 editor Adriaan Basson.

Read the full column here.

Pieter du Toit: Cyril Ramaphosa has now become the problem (October 31)

When Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, during his mid-term budget in October, spoke of selling government assets, closing down SA Express and giving the private sector access to public goods, there was a profound sense that he had said it all before. His warnings, starkly emphasised in his budget speech in February, were also issued in October 2018, and in February, and the budget cycle before that. Among some in President Cyril Ramaphosa's inner circle, who had staked their careers and political reputations on his victory at Nasrec, there was an increasing sense of frustration that he had become the problem.

Read the full article here.

Ralph Mathekga: It's lose-lose as Mkhwebane backs Ramaphosa into a corner (July 9)

The ongoing battle between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan preoccupied the Ramaphosa presidency for a large part of the year. If the president hastily removed Gordhan as minister in response to Mkhwebane's damning SARS report, he would have lost an important stage of the political battle under way. He would have yielded too quickly to the perceived Mkhwebane political machination. If he came across as unable to defend key allies such as Gordhan, his allies could abandon him. He was backed into a corner.

Read Mathekga's column on Ramaphosa's dilemma here.

Mayihlome Tshwete to Siya Kolisi: 'Winning the trophy won't change things' (November 11)

With the Springboks heading into the Rugby World Cup final against England, rhetoric about the unifying effect a Bok win would have on the nation came thick and fast. Ever the contrarian, Mayihlome Tshwete opined that it would be a convenient dereliction of duty to impose on a sport the responsibility of repairing a nation. "When you lead your team on the field on Saturday," Tshwete wrote to captain Siya Kolisi, "lead them out with our truths. Truth that states that we are not yet one, but we are a nation becoming."

Read the full column here.

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Siya Kolisi, captain

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and President Cyril Ramaphosa lift the Webb Ellis trophy after winning the Rugby World Cup. Picture: Getty Images.


ANC's poverty porn parade a reflection of its detachment from 'the people' (January 13)

In January, around the ANC's 107th birthday commemorations, the party's election campaign was in full swing. Party leaders were out and about in KwaZulu-Natal, visiting the aged, the poor, the homeless and the sick. Pictures were all over social media, with leaders waxing lyrical about "our people". Author and News24 columnist Redi Tlhabi lampooned the party for using these scenes, and the poor people of South Africa, to suit a political agenda, when it was their very own failures that created the sorry circumstances South Africans still live in.

Read Tlhabi's scathing column here.

Helen Zille: My greatest failure (May 27)

The ANC has successfully consolidated a huge weight of public opinion (particularly among political commentators) behind the idea that the pursuit of racial representivity, as an end in itself, is a noble goal, wrote Helen Zille shortly after she retired as Western Cape premier. Her greatest failure, by far, then "is that I did not fight hard enough to prevent the DA from entering the ANC/EFF's 'race narrative' arena".

Read Zille's full column here.

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