Last month, I expressed my worries about the course South Africa appeared to be following. Since then, we have taken a few more steps towards the edge of the cliff.
On December 9th, less than a week after Fitch downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to BBB-, the lowest category before junk status, Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene was unexpectedly dismissed from his post by Jacob Zuma. He has been replaced by David van Rooyen.
The Market’s reaction was immediate. The Rand lost value against the US Dollar, Euro and British Pound, although it recovered slightly. The Public’s reaction has been one of shock and disbelief mixed with anger. Analysts and Commentators have slammed Zuma for a decision that could politely be called “questionable”. The hashtags #ZumaMustFall and #JacobMustFall have been trending on Twitter.
David van Rooyen, the new Minister of Finance, is a virtual unknown. He was Mayor of Merafong from 2003 to 2009 where he had a mixed record, and has served as a whip of the economic transformation cluster. His highest qualification is an MSc in Finance from the University of London. That he was appointed instead of Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas raises suspicions about why Nene was removed.
The rumour is that Nene was replaced because he refused to fund the nuclear deal between South Africa and Russia, refused to pay for a new presidential jet, and that when Dudu Miyeni, chairwoman of the SAA board changed the terms of a deal between Airbus and SAA, refused to fund the deal and demanded that the deal go ahead on the originally agreed terms, and that van Rooyen will be more susceptible to executive pressure. I hope that this is not the case, but we will have to see.
On November 30th (my birthday), the Constitutional Court overturned a ruling by the Electoral Court and ordered that by-elections in the Municipality of Tlokwe be re-run.
The story is as follows: in 2013, several ANC councillors in Tlokwe Municipality disregarded instructions from their party and voted with opposition political parties to remove then Mayor Maphetle Maphetle. They were then expelled from the ANC, and had to vacate their seats. They then stood as independent candidates in the By-elections which were held.
And lost to the ANC’s candidates.
The independents then approached the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) with various complaints about the way the by-elections were conducted. These included:
- Failure to properly verify if the people who cast ballots were from the wards in question;
- The independent candidates had experienced delays in receiving the Voters’ Rolls for their Wards;
- That when they did receive them, in many cases the residential addresses of the voters were missing, and that;
- As a result, voters not entitled to register in these wards had been registered, and;
- Their participation had materially affected the by-election results.
The IEC investigated, and found that the complaints were valid, but ruled that the irregularities had not impacted the outcome. The candidates then appealed to the Electoral Court, which rejected their claims. So the candidates went to the Constitutional Court, which ruled in their favour.
This entire issue raises questions about the competence and impartiality of the IEC. The independent candidates had brought the problems to the attention of the IEC, but the IEC went ahead anyway. Adding to this, the current head of the IEC, Vuma Mashinini, is a personal friend of South African President Jacob Zuma. Next year, Municipal Elections are being held across South Africa.
Will the elections be free and fair? Or will there be cheating?
If things haven’t changed drastically by the end of next year, South Africa will be ruined.