This happened in 2015: Current Affairs
With the year coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on the year that was and look back on the big newsmakers. It can’t be argued that 2015 was a heavy year in news. There were heart-breaking events all over the world that made headlines month after month, but there were also wonderful light news of kind gestures and humanity. Without further preamble, this is what happened in 2015 in current affairs.
- South African Student Movements
One of the biggest newsmakers in South Africa this year has been the students. The year began with students at the University of Cape Town calling for the statue of Cecil John Rhodes to be removed from the university grounds. After weeks of both protests and debate, at the university and across the country, the UCT Senate voted in favour of removing the memorial. On the 9th of April, the movement calling itself #RhodesMustFall came up triumphant as the statue was removed from the university grounds. At the writing of this, students at London’s Oxford University are also calling for the Rhodes Statue on their campus grounds to be removed.
Still in the Western Cape, an organisation calling itself Open Stellenbosch began protests against the exclusionary language policies at Stellenbosch University. While the country and academia debated what it means to have institutions that are considered to be “Afrikaans institutions,” the group released a documentary called “Luister.” The documentary was filled with accounts of racism lived by 32 students and a lecturer at the institution.
In October, students at the University of the Witwatersrand sparked nationwide protests in a movement collectively known as #FeesMustFall. Protests spanned every corner of the country as they were found to be resonant in institutions such as TUT, UKZN, DUT, and more who have been fighting this same fight for years.
All these student movements carried a common, extra component: the students were also protesting for the rights of university workers.
- Oscar Pistorius
In October it was announced that Oscar Pistorius was granted parole after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius was barely out on parole when the state’s appeal of his culpable homicide conviction got underway. During the appeal, Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously agreed that Pistorius could foresee that his actions could be fatal to whoever was behind that door. Pistorius is currently out on bail.
- Xenophobic Attacks
In April Xenophobic attacks broke out once more in South Africa’s townships with Durban’s townships and Soweto being the hardest hit. The attacks in KwaZulu-Natal were viewed by many as a result of the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini’s xenophobic comments leading to the outbreak.
In Soweto and other Johannesburg townships, shops were looted and their owners were forced to flee. While local shop owners brought up their frustrations about the new spaza economy and how it now put them at a disadvantage, many debated whether any of those frustrations justified condoning violence.
- Water Crisis
For years, water conservation campaigns have been run because South African is said to be one of driest countries in the world. These warnings finally came to a head as the country faced drought weather conditions.
- The Nene, Van Rooyen, Gordhan Saga
Just as we thought 2015 had served up all of its political drama, president Zuma threw a spanner into the works: he recalled finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene. In his statement, the president said he would be redeploying Nene to another strategic position. The position in question is that of MP.
Enter David Van Rooyen…no, enter Gordhan again.
When Nene’s removal as finance minister was announced, David Van Rooyen, who served in Parliament’s portfolio committee, was announced as his replacement. There was public pushback against both Nene getting fired and Van Rooyen being selected as his replacement.
Only four days later, after Van Rooyen had been sworn in, the president announced that Pravin Gordhan would be finance minister instead. Again. Gordhan was finance minister during the 2009 – 2014 term. At the time of his redeployment, Gordhan was minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.
What current affairs stories caught your attention in 2015?