Scandal! I am not talking about the Etv soapie or the hit American political drama. No, I am talking about South Africa and all the drama it just cannot seem to shake off. Here are 6 of the biggest South African scandals.
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This is basically such a huge scandal in our democracy that it has been compared to Watergate, which was the undoing of former US Pres. Richard Nixon. But, in contrast, Jacob Zuma’s presidency is still intact. Zuma has been accused of using state funds to upgrade his home into a mega palace in the rural KZN town of Nkandla. The house now boasts a swimming pool so big that it has been dubbed the “fire pool”, since it is big enough to fight the fires of Cape Town. He has since then denied, ignored and blamed the whole thing on his contractor.
2. The SONA brawl
Thousands of South Africans switched on their TVs to watch the annual State of the Nation Address. Now, the SONA is necessary but it is about as interesting as reciting an encyclopedia, until this year that is! Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters party interrupted Pres. Zuma mid-speech by shouting before the entire parliament and nation, “We want the money!” “The money” being the millions of taxpayer Rands that Zuma has been accused of taking. This unprecedented action turned into a physical brawl between the EFF and the “security” forces of parliament.
We know Generations as the most popular soapie in South Africa. But tensions between its producer Mfundi Vundla, and the entire cast erupted into something that could rival the show’s plotline. Last year the soapie ended because the cast were on strike demanding higher salaries. You would think that Vundla would give in immediately, but instead he essentially created a new show, Generations: The Legacy, with a brand new cast. But not before he publically disclosed all the former cast member’s salary details, amongst other unsavoury revelations. The old cast is set to be in a new show on a rival channel later this year. All we can say is… to be continued.
4. Matric result cheats
In our country matric results are a huge deal. There is even a national ceremony at the beginning of the year just for them. It was reported that over five-hundred thousand learners took part in the 2014 matric exams, which resulted in a 75, 8% pass rate. However, soon afterwards news broke out that a number of schools had cheated in the examination. The most affected provinces were Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West where learners, teachers and invigilators have been accused. Some teachers were said to have handed answers to learners through windows and there were some cases of group copying.
5. Free State hospitals in shambles
The Free State health system has reportedly taken a turn for the worst in recent years. Many hospitals throughout the province have been subjected to stock outages, unsanitary conditions and lack of equipment. Some doctors have reported that important medicine such as ARVs have been out of stock and mandatory drugs like antibiotics were unavailable. Hospital facilities have become out of order and many patients (and corpses) have had to be carried from floor to floor on stretchers. Of all the scandals on this list this has to be the most heartbreaking. It has to be really bad if patients have to buy their own bandages at a public hospital. The Treatment Action Campaign blames it on corruption and health MEC Benny Malokoane and government officials point to hospital administrators and on and on. Nobody has been held accountable, while South Africans suffer.
6. Senzo’s death
Orlando Pirates goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa’s death brought on an almost surprising wave of grief and blame over most of the country last year. The married Meyiwa was shot in his girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo’s home by two men who are still at large. Since then, numerous people have been suspected by the public by Khumalo, her family, his wife, and friends. One person even tweeted that they had heard the whole thing and implicated Khumalo’s relatives in the murder. We may never know what happened in that house that day.
Scandal is nothing new to the South African landscape, our media is littered with it every day. Maybe even to the point of public apathy. But, these are some of South Africa’s biggest scandals so far.
Written by Noma Mtebele