A cleaner slate for a new year

2019-01-05 17:51

Asphelelanga – which translates as “we are incomplete” – is the hit single by award-winning artist Vusi Nova, and it epitomises the country’s political landscape as we look back at last year.

Not all politicians who kick-started the year enjoying great influence and stature carried that with them into the new year.

For many, including former president Jacob Zuma, last year was a disaster.

It was the year they would prefer to forget as they saw their power waning in front of their eyes, leading to, in some cases, a meteoric fall from grace within the political fraternity.

Here are some of the figures who – as the song goes – were incomplete and now do not feature in the new year’s political landscape.


Zuma – who also moonlighted as a vocalist best known for his rendition of Umshini wami during his buoyant time in office and SengimaNxebaNxeba after vacating his position – finally lost his grip on power after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president at the end of 2017.

The ANC gave Zuma an ultimatum – resign or face a motion of no confidence.

He eventually gave in and resigned, leading to Ramaphosa being elected unopposed as president by the National Assembly.


After Zuma’s demise, Ramaphosa chopped 10 ministers loyal to the former president when he reshuffled his Cabinet.

Zuma’s vocal ally Fikile Mbalula, who at the time was police minister and had openly backed the wrong horse in Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma leading up to the ANC’s elective conference, was replaced by Bheki Cele and redeployed as the party’s head of elections.

Faith Muthambi, who was appointed communications minister by Zuma, was reshuffled after allegations that she enabled the capture of the government communication and information system department when it was placed under her portfolio.

Former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane lost his position after he was linked to an elaborate scheme that allegedly siphoned off R220 million from a Free State dairy farm meant to benefit poor farmers to fund the Guptas’ luxurious lifestyle.

Des van Rooyen – or the “Gupta minister”, as he has been described by witnesses who appeared before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture – lost his position as minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs as a result of being “a puppet” while he was the finance minister for a weekend to the puppetries, the Gupta family.

Other ministers who lost their jobs during Ramaphosa’s first Cabinet reshuffle were Lynne Brown, Bongani Bongo, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Nkosinathi Nhleko, David Mahlobo and Joe Maswanganyi.


Another high-profile politician who saw his influence diminishing and coming to an abrupt end was former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, who went from being the province’s beloved to its detested. He stepped down in May amid violent protests in the province’s capital Mahikeng.

In August, he got a further demotion as the ANC’s national executive committee disbanded the North West provincial executive and removed him as chairperson of the party in the province.


After being reappointed in February as finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene fell on his sword in October and was forced to resign after he testified at the state capture inquiry and backtracked on previous remarks that he had met the Guptas only at social events.

Nene’s revised testimony revealed that he had met the controversial brothers several times between 2009 and 2014 at their residential apartment and in their offices.


More recently, former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba dug his own grave and buried himself in it following Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s finding that he had violated the Constitution and the executive members’ ethics code when he was found to have lied under oath in the Fireblade Aviation matter.

Gigaba, however, made sure that he left South Africans with something to remember him by – his sex tape was leaked just days before his resignation.


In July, the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) banded together to remove Athol Trollip as the mayor of Nelson Mandala Bay. Trollip was ousted through a motion of no confidence and his nemesis from the UDM, former deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani, was elected as mayor.


In October – after numerous court battles and motions of no confidence from the DA against her – former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille finally decided to cut ties with the party and go it alone.

She has since started a new political party called Good.

De Lille’s exit was followed by an exodus by other councillors, including then DA chief whip Shaun August and four other councillors who resigned in support of her.


Some of the casualties of the political scene last year came as a result of the governing party acting on rogue elements who brought the party’s image into disrepute, especially considering the looming elections this year.

Among those shown the door were former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and former ANC chief whip in the Gauteng legislature Brian Hlongwa.

The pair were asked during the Gauteng branch’s conference to step down from the provincial executive committee and were, according to ANC Gauteng spokesperson Motalatale Modiba, not included on the provincial list of candidates put forward for nomination into the provincial and national legislatures ahead of the elections .

Mahlangu was dismissed for her role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of at least 144 psychiatric patients who were transferred from Life healthcare institution to several unlicenced NGOs.

Hlongwa resigned as the party’s chief whip in the Gauteng legislature after he was embroiled in allegations of corruption stemming from his tenure as health MEC.

The Gauteng ANC’s clean-up operation followed closely on the heels of that of the ANC in Limpopo, which dismissed several mayors for their involvement in investing municipal money with the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank.

Also implicated in the so-called Great Bank Heist was ANC Limpopo deputy provincial chairperson Florence Radzilani – the only mayor who opted to resign with immediate effect. She was mayor of the Vhembe District Municipality.


In January, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba fired Rabelani Dagada as a member of the mayoral committee for finance after allegations of nepotism, corruption, price-fixing and victimisation of some city officials.

Dagada announced his resignation as a DA member with immediate effect in July.

Dagada said at the time that the DA had handled his disciplinary procedure “unlawfully, unreasonably and in a manner demonstrating that the party was hell-bent on destroying” his political career.

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September 15 2019