President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

1. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane suffered many blows throughout the year, but only after a number of adverse court findings and public criticism did Thuli Madonsela comment on the conduct of her successor.

2. Jacob Zuma may have left office more than a year ago, but his legal woes have ensured his presence in the news cycle. 2019 was not the best year for the former president, from legal setbacks to financial and political pressure, to testifying before the state-capture inquiry.

3. After explosive and damning revelations before the state-capture commission, Angelo Agrizzi rose to infamy by implicating a range of private individuals and politicians in alleged corruption. He did this to such an extent that the governing ANC considered cross-examining him.

4. Of all of SA’s struggling state-owned entities, Eskom was undoubtedly among those that had a very difficult year. With unprecedented levels of load-shedding and no permanent CEO, the power utility finally revealed who would assume one of the most challenging jobs in the public sector.

5. The true cost of corruption is rarely as prevalent as when government employees lose billions in retirement savings. Early in December, it was revealed that the state pension fund had written off two of its most controversial investments.

6. Early in 2019, SA received tragic news about one of its iconic giants. Scientists revealed there was only one “truly wild, free-roaming” elephant left in the Knysna forest, a female about 45 years old.

7. In a country where corruption allegations are more common than job opportunities, many South Africans have grown despondent about the state’s ability to bring criminals to justice. But SA got an early Christmas present when a couple of Eskom executives found themselves in the dock.

8. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been known to make controversial findings and, in some cases, unlawful recommendations. Towards the end of the year, she was again heading to court after insisting that Sars hand over former president Jacob Zuma’s confidential tax information.

9. Amid numerous blows to the mining sector in 2019, ArcelorMittal SA announced in November that it plans to shut its Saldanha steel operation early in 2020.

10. The past year may not have seen any state-capture corruptors land behind bars, but a number of changes in SA’s law enforcement bodies, specifically aimed at corruption, at least suggests this will not be the case for 2020.