Business Day’s top 10 news stories of 2019
In between an election, power and water crises, and numerous scandals, corruption drew the most attention in 2019
1. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane dominated the news cycle throughout 2019, often for the wrong reasons. In June, Business Day reported that her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, denied that she too had revealed confidential aspects of her investigations to the public.
2. Jacob Zuma may have left the Union Buildings early in 2018, but the former president continues to find himself in the news. Now, however, the reports do not detail his surprise cabinet reshuffles but rather his legal woes.
3. Apart from public statements and meetings, presidents also have to do paperwork, sometimes. Despite strong opposition from the banking industry and the DA, the president signed into law the controversial debt-relief bill in August.
4. Former DA leader Helen Zille made a surprise return to politics in 2019. However, before assuming one of her party’s most senior positions, Zille criticised her successor, Mmusi Maimane, for approaching the public protector over a political donation to Cyril Ramaphosa.
5. Eskom is known to take unexpected decisions, including cutting off power. Shortly before SA witnessed unprecedented levels of outages, the power utility announced that it had appointed Andre de Ruyter as its new CEO.
6. While corruption stories dominated the news cycle in 2019, it is not very common to include reports of public officials landing behind bars. That was not the case for the former boss of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) Rubben Mohlaloga.
7. Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Cyril Ramaphosa were perhaps the most common names in the news in 2019. Despite numerous developments, the legal battle between the two continues.
8. One of SA’s lesser-known public bodies made headlines this year when it was revealed that the CEO of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) was paid more than the president. That is despite the NEF being hamstrung by a lack of funding.
9. Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has one of the hardest jobs in the government. On top of that, he faces ongoing clashes with certain individuals and a certain political party.
10. Just as the year ran out and the power returned, many South Africans got news they had been waiting for. Less than a week before Christmas, authorities hauled a number of former senior Eskom officials before a court on charges of fraud and corruption.