South Africa. A bitter power struggle between the
opposition and corruption-accused President Jacob Zuma
continued during the year.
When Zuma gave his annual speech on the situation in the
country, he was interrupted by members of the left-wing EFF
(Economic Freedom Fighters) who silenced the president. The
red-clad EFF members were then thrown out of parliament by a
violent riot by guards. The largest opposition party DA
(Democratic Alliance) members marched themselves in protest
The capital of Pretoria was shaken by xenophobic riots in
February when South Africans attacked migrants' homes and
shops. A large protest demonstration was held against
Nigerians, who were accused of organized crime.
Countryaah.com, President Zuma was in conflict with Finance Minister
Pravin Gordhan on economic policy, and in March Gordhan was
dismissed. This led to stock market turmoil and currency
declines as Gordhan was seen as a stabilizing force for
South Africa's economy and a counter-force against
Zuma received a lot of criticism for his decision, also
in his own party ANC (African National Congress) and from
its Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa. Demonstrations were
held, the opposition planned a vote of no confidence, South
Africa's credit rating was lowered and Zuma's departure was
demanded by the country's largest trade union COSATU.
Tens of thousands of people protested in several cities
demanding Zuma's departure. Opposition parties, trade unions
and churches formed an alliance against Zuma, the Freedom
Movement, with the goal of removing the president. When Zuma
was to speak first in Bloemfontein, the meeting had to be
canceled after the public buzzed the president, who had to
leave the place under the protection of security guards.
Zuma claimed Gordhan was fired because of a security report
that he conspired against Zuma. The opposition then got
right by the Supreme Court in its request that the basis for
the president's decision be made public.
In May, former presidents Thabo Mbeki, FW de Klerk and
Kgalema Motlanthe called for national dialogue to resolve
the crisis they considered the country's worst since
democracy was introduced in 1994.
At the parliament's distrustful vote in August, Zuma
succeeded, despite the fact that the Speaker, supported by
the Supreme Court, agreed to the opposition's demand for
secret ballot. Zuma's relations with the corruption-accused
Gupta business family created problems for the president.
The audit firm KPMG was widely debated since it approved the
Gupta Empire's accounts, where several million dollars of
public funds were used for a private party.
When the ANC held a party congress at the turn of the
year, there was an open conflict between two factions that
supported each of them as candidate for new president after
Zuma. It was Zuma's former wife and the former president of
the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma against Vice
President Cyril Ramaphosa. The former advocated social
equalization and the latter emphasized economic growth. At
the end of the year, the party elected Cyril Ramaphosa as
new chairman, making him a likely presidential candidate.
In August, the Foreign Ministry made a controversial
decision to grant Zimbabwe presidential wife Grace Mugabe
legal immunity and leave her country after being reported to
the police for mistreating a woman at a hotel in
Johannesburg. The South African opposition was very
critical, demanding that Mrs Mugabe be arrested by police
and demanded a parliamentary inquiry.
In August, the DA's leaders demanded that Parliament be
dissolved and new elections held. In September, the
opposition called on the Constitutional Court to investigate
whether President Zuma is guilty of crimes that could lead
to national law.
Tens of thousands of members of the trade union movement
COSATU demonstrated in September. They accused Zuma of
corruption and demanded that South Africa resign and be
succeeded by former union leader Ramaphosa.
In October, the Minister of Higher Education, Blade
Nzimande, was dismissed, who criticized President Zuma and
urged him to resign.
Also in June, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attended
an AU meeting in South Africa. al-Bashir was subject to an
arrest warrant by the ICC and the North Gauteng High Court
therefore issued an order requiring the government (more
specifically Justice Minister and police) to arrest
al-Bashir so that he could be handed over to the ICC for
prosecution. The government refused and allowed the
president to travel back to Sudan. In October, the
government brought the matter before the Supreme Court,
declaring that South Africa was willing to withdraw from the
ICC if it would otherwise be required to extradite sitting
heads of state. The Supreme Court issued a ruling in May
2016 that the authorities' failure to arrest al-Bashir was
in violation of the law.
Police brutality and abuse continue to be widespread. 396
civilians were killed during police actions in 2014-15. In
November 2015, eight former police officers were sentenced
to 15 years in prison for the murder of Mozambican taxi
driver Mido Macia in 2013. Police officers had tied his arms
to the bumper of a police car and then dragged him by the
car on an asphalt road.
In October, lawyers sued 32 gold mining companies on
behalf of thousands of gold miners at the South Gauteng High
Court . The claim was a replacement for the diseases -
especially silicosis and tuberculosis - the miners had
incurred in working in the mines.
The country was marked by the worst recorded drought
ever. A combination of the weather phenomenon of el Niņo and
global climate change. 2.7 million households lacked direct
water and the drought destroyed the harvest, causing food
prices to skyrocket. Maize increased 14%, broke 7% and eggs
15%. By mid-2016, the disaster was so widespread that 15
countries in southern Africa joined forces, requesting the
global community for $ 2.8 billion. US $ 40 million in
bread-feeding aid people who were in immediate danger of
famine. Although Africa was most affected, el Niņo and
global climate change affected all 5 continents. Denmark cut
its foreign aid to below 0.5% of GDP and instead spent the
money on war and the accommodation of refugees in Denmark. (
Farmers bear brown of South Africa's severe drought: 'All we
can do is pray', Guardian 17/11 2015; Southern
Africa appeals for billions to cope with El Niņo
devastation, Guardian 26/7 2016)
In March 2016, the Constitutional Court affirmed the
state prosecutor's investigation into President Zuma's
non-security-related construction at his residence and
ordered the president to repay the public funds he had spent
on the construction.
Up until the local elections in August 2016, riots
erupted in the KwaZulu-Natal province. During the period
January-July, 25 violent incidents were reported, including
14 murders of city councilors, candidates or members of
political parties. The Minister of Police set up a working
group to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the
politically motivated crime in the province.
In July, authorities announced an 8% increase in tuition
payment for the high school from 2017. It sparked widespread
and often violent student protests where the requirement was