2016: The good, the bad and the downright ugly

By Almari Wessels
30 December 2016

YOU's Almari Wessels looks back on the, uh... memorable year that was.

They say Fidel Castro, the glorious or ghastly (depending on your political stance) former leader of Cuba survived over 600 assassination attempts on his life, but even he couldn’t survive 2016.

Who the ‘they’ are who are always coming up with these sweeping statements, one would surely never know, but one thing is for sure: judging from everyone and their mother’s status updates on social media – almost everyone agrees that 2016 was an unmitigated disaster.

That everyone, however, does not include me.

Sure, it was a chaotic year on all perceivable levels and our local and international political landscape is forever changed by the havoc wreaked by terrorist attacks, the American people’s decision to elect a firebrand tycoon as the leader of the free world and the unmasking of a corrupt patronage network in South Africa. (Please spare a thought for the local journalists who had their work cut out for them; running around like Pokemon Go addicts, cellphones clutched in their hands tweeting relentlessly about everything from president Jacob Zuma’s latest misstep to the results of the local government elections.)

But, in retrospect, was 2015 really that spectacular and who can guarantee that 2017 will be any better than this wretched year?

Absolutely no-one knows the answers to these questions, but this is a fact as solid as a swimming pool not being a firepool – our president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma experienced an annus horribilis in 2016.

The first blow came when he had to apologise after the Constitutional Court ruled he broke his oath of office and contravened the South African constitution when he simply ignored the findings of Adv Thuli Madonsela (the former public protector) in her damning report on so-called “security upgrades” at his Nkandla homestead.

When the dust in the chicken coop finally settled, an overseas newspaper crowed that Zuma’s friends – the controversial Gupta family – offered Mcebisi Jonas, the deputy finance minister, the keys to the Treasury before Zuma fired Jonas’ boss, the respected Nhlanhla Nene, abruptly in December 2015 and replaced him with the unknown Des “Weekend Special” van Rooyen.

After the financial markets imploded, Zuma was forced to re-hire stalwart Pravin Gordhan, but he didn’t survive the fallout unscathed.

Vytjie Mentor, a former ANC MP, proved to be the thorn in his side when she alleged on her Facebook page that she had also been formerly approached by the Gupta brothers for a position in Zuma’s cabinet and that our president himself purportedly consoled her on the Saxonwold premises after she had declined the corrupt proposition.

As resilient as our president is, he wriggled his way out of these incriminating rumours and scandals, but even Zuma must have been surprised at the outcome of the local elections when the ANC took a nosedive and lost the Tshwane, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth municipalities.

But uBaba (as the Twitterati have dubbeb him) still bulldozed his way forward, and next year we will see him challenging Madonsela’s swansong – the report on so-called State Capture that unveiled the depth of the control the Gupta family has on the South African government – in court.

Read more: State Capture: Do the shocking findings mean the end for Zuma?

As if the local and international political turmoil wasn’t enough to deal with, we had to gasp for air when the shock announcement was made that Brangelina was no more.

Read more: RIP Brangelina – you will be missed

What a horrible revelation! If the hunky Brad Pitt and the beautiful Angelina Jolie’s love couldn’t last, what hope is there for us? How are mere mortals – with mortgages, school fees and outstanding e-Toll bills – supposed to make relationships and marriages last if the genetically blessed and the filthy rich can’t?

Well, one relationship that – thankfully – never ended in divorce and still inspires us to this day is the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

The royal duo celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary this year and their love affair was fittingly immortalised in The Crown, a breath-taking Netflix series. If the sardonic Prince Philip could deal with the pressures of being the royal consort for almost seven decades, there might still be hope for us commoners?

And just a bit of perspective, lest we forget: 2016 wasn’t all that bad! Who will ever forget  newly engaged Wayde van Niekerk’s magical run and world-record at the 400 m at the Olympic Games in Brazil? And Caster Semenya’s comeback as the Golden Girl in the 800 m? Cassper Nyovest filling up Orlando Stadium? AKA and Bonang emerging as the country’s It Couple?

Read more: Are Bonang and AKA getting their own TV show?

Every year will always have its good, its bad and its downright ugly. And depending how the dice falls, your fate may lie in either of these categories. Better to just keep moving forward and keep on hoping that things will incrementally improve.

If not, rapid improving technology might still produce a futuristic GPS device capable of pinpointing the location of the mysterious Saxonwold shebeen – and if that watering hole is found, at least we’ll have a place to drown our sorrows until this spate of bad luck is overturned.

So let’s drink to that. To 2017 and beyond!

Find Love!