The drama is not going away in 2015, writes the City Press politics team
Soon after he took office, Gauteng Premier David Makhura appointed a committee to hear public submissions about the impact of e-tolls. Despite the careful language, this measure was widely considered a review of e-tolls, and the number of submissions opposing the system sparked optimism that Makhura would scrap it entirely.
The ANC in the province identified e-tolls as one of the factors that led to a 10% dip in its support in last year’s national elections.
But those expecting an outright scrapping of e-tolls might be disappointed: there is a strong probability the province might settle on a compromise that means keeping the system but offering better rates and other incentives.
The ANC will hold its mid-term review of policy implementation, the national general council, in June. The gathering is crucial when it comes to setting the tone for leadership battles and outlining the ANC’s priorities.
The issue of gender in leadership could be brought up because several voices in the party have already said the ANC should be thinking about having a female president. But this is a contentious matter and the ANC will ponder deeply if it is ready for such a debate.
Regardless, the issue of who succeeds President Jacob Zuma in 2017 will overshadow the proceedings as various lobby groups will start testing the waters.
The ANC is likely to develop a programme for the local government elections at this forum.
President Jacob Zuma
Zuma’s popularity in the ANC remains high despite his relatively poor performance in government. As soon as he has consolidated his power at the national general council in June, Zuma will have to focus on the weak areas in government.
He cannot escape a Cabinet reshuffle and dead wood like Communications Minister Faith Muthambi have to be shown the door.
This being his last term, Zuma will be even more worried about the legacy he leaves behind.
He will also get more involved in backroom dealings to decide who will eventually succeed him, both in the ANC and as president of the country.
The land issue, which continues to be an ultrasensitive topic in South African politics, is expected to take centre stage this year.
The willing buyer, willing seller principle could come to an end this year because the ANC is increasingly under pressure to bring the Expropriation Bill back to the table.
The much-discussed “land valuer-general” will be employed in the first quarter of this year.
It remains to be seen if the ANC’s national general council will adopt a controversial proposal by Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti for farm labourers to own 50% of the land they are working on.
In Parliament, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has threatened to disrupt Zuma’s state of the nation address, which is expected to be delivered on January 12.
It will be the first time the president addresses the National Assembly since he left the House abruptly on August 21 while the EFF loudly demanded that he “pay back the money” spent on non-security upgrades at his home in Nkandla.
Although security will be tight, there is no certainty Zuma will be able to successfully deliver his annual speech.
This year will also provide a test to Parliament on how it effectively deals with the lack of decorum in the National Assembly.
The institution has already increased the number of security personnel in the precinct.
On the legislation front, not much was done in Parliament in terms of passing new laws, but a number of bills are expected to be introduced this year.
Divisions and squabbles over the soul of the labour federation will reach their peak this year, when the warring factions will finally get an elective conference that will decide, once and for all, the union federation’s direction.
Supporters of embattled general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi have been pushing for a special congress, where they plan to wrest control of Cosatu from those aligned to its president, Sdumo Dlamini.
But these calls have been resisted by the Dlamini faction on the basis that Cosatu is going to an elective conference in September anyway.
The elective conference will decide who the eventual winner is between the two factions. Those supporting Vavi have already been weakened by the expulsion of metal workers’ union Numsa from Cosatu.
At the time of its expulsion, Numsa had the highest membership in Cosatu.
Numsa itself will have to grapple with whether it wants to return to the fold of the labour federation or form its own super union and workers’ party, which its leader Irvin Jim wants.
The DA goes to its own elective conference this year and there are no early indications that leader Helen Zille’s hold on power will be challenged, despite some open hostility towards her last year.
If Zille does get re-elected, as expected, she will have to be more visible – especially in Parliament, where the EFF is taking centre stage – instead of hiding in her office.
Julius Malema has tightened his stranglehold on the EFF by orchestrating the election of his hand-picked candidates to leadership positions.
This year, the party will have to prove it still has relevance and staying power.