Jacob Zuma. Picture: THE HERALD
Jacob Zuma. Picture: THE HERALD

A is for apartheid, dead but not buried

"Do not use violence to express yourselves, or I might be forced to relook at the apartheid laws that used violence to suppress people."

President Jacob Zuma warning against the violent nature of student protests at Tshwane University of Technology south campus in June.

B is for broken, a president damaged

"You are a broken man, presiding over a broken society. You are willing to break every democratic institution to try and fix the legal predicament you find yourself in."

Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane describing Zuma during the February state of the nation debate.

C is for continents, of which Africa is the biggest

"This continent is the biggest continent in the world, not separated even by a river…. All continents put together will fit in, into Africa."

Zuma in December, addressing a group of business leaders.

D is for dumb, because we all make mistakes

"He is only a human being. He may be the president, but we all say dumb things … I truly feel the president treats us with respect."

African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League president Angie Motshekga in January, responding to a Gender Commission finding Zuma was not guilty but should watch his words in future, after he said in 2012 that women should marry and have children.

E is for energy, in short supply

"I think we have a challenge, not a crisis."

Zuma on the situation at Eskom in February, responding to speculation about the possibility of a total blackout as electricity demand continued to outstrip supply.

F is for Freedom Charter, the ANC’s own

"It is the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter that is the emphasis because every Jack and Jill claims to be the custodian of the Freedom Charter these days."

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, ahead of the ANC’s January 8 statement, a subtle dig at the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which had claimed to be the charter’s true custodians.

G is for Goodwill, but not for foreigners

"We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries."

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in March, addressing Pongolo community members during a moral regeneration event.

H is for hashtags, a force of their own


The defining social media call to arms over the course of 2015, as thousands of students rose up during October against proposed university fees increases.

I is for intellectual, the SABC’s own philosopher king

"I’m an intellectual strategist. I’m an intellectual born person. No one can take that from me except God. No one can stop me to go up and up, because I have brain in me."

SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in December, after he was found not guilty of all charges by an SABC internal disciplinary hearing.

J is for the JSE, terrain of contestation

"You are so racist, you do not even belong to South Africa."

EFF leader Julius Malema in October, having led thousands of marchers to Sandton to deliver a memorandum. Malema accused the JSE of treating black people like criminals.

K is for a King, but a criminal too

"The judge who sentenced me cannot go scot free. If the judge can come here he can definitely be sentenced to five lashes on his buttocks. The punishment he deserves is five good lashes on his buttocks."

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo addressing a crowd in October, after the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld his conviction for assault, arson and kidnapping.

L is for loyalty, to the party before the country

"And I argued one time with somebody who said that the country comes first, and I said as much as I understand that, I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first."

Zuma in November, addressing delegates at the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal conference.

M is for Madonsela, bane of the ANC

"The report has misled the country. It has misled South Africans and tarnished the image of our government and the credibility of our government."

ANC MP Thandi Mahambehlala in July, representative on the ad hoc committee to consider the report of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Nkandla.

N is for naked, a kind of protest

"If they don’t want them, we will take off those overalls and walk naked. If that’s what they want to see, they will see it."

An EFF spokesperson in January, responding to new rules proposed to regulate parliament’s dress code.

O is for Oscar, guilty as charged

"The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder."

Justice Eric Leach in December, on behalf of the Supreme Court of Appeal, overturning the verdict that Oscar Pistorius was guilty of culpable homicide.

P is for police commissioner, hanging by a thread

"It is evident that both these reports served only as a malicious, vindictive attempt to create a distraction for me ahead of the board of inquiry that has been instituted by the president."

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega in November, responding to the findings of two damning reports on her conduct stemming from the Marikana tragedy, which led to her suspension.

Q is for Question Time, but not for answers

"We are willing to be reasonable and say, ‘Can the president be patient and add the time during which he will stand and answer the questions?’"

Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete explaining in an interview in March that Parliament will wait for the president, rather than demand he appear for questions.

R is for respect, something fossils don’t do

"This thing is inconsistent with reality and supports the theory that we are subhuman. That’s why Africans aren’t respected by the rest of the world."

Former ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga on the discovery of Homo naledi in September.

S is for sharing, but be careful what

"Please come back PW Botha — you were far more honest than any of these ANC rogues, and you provided a far better service to the public."

Journalist Paul Kirk in a post on Facebook in September. The post was shared by DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, which resulted in her membership being terminated.

T is for truth, a costly business

"The commission is of the view that it cannot be said that Mr Ramaphosa was the ‘cause of the massacre’."

From the 600-page, R153m report of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, released in June. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was a nonexecutive director at the time of the August 2012 tragedy, when police shot striking miners.

U is for u-turn, and Cabinet reshuffles

"I have received many representations to reconsider my decision. As a democratic government, we emphasise the importance of listening to the people and to respond to their views."

Zuma in December, explaining his decision to undo the appointment of Desmond van Rooyen as finance minister and reinstall former finance minister Pravin Gordhan in his place. Four days earlier, Van Rooyen had replaced Nhlanhla Nene.

V is for victory, but not at football

"I don’t know what is the problem with Bafana Bafana … it needs traditional healers. I plead with the people of Limpopo to help us. We are in trouble."

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, launching the South African Indigenous Games Festival in September. It was a bad year for South Africa’s soccer, cricket and rugby teams.

W is for wall, built in less time than Nkandla

"Look at the Great Wall of China. It was built in 10 months. It is the work ethic."

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti in December, on the Chinese work ethic.

X is for xenophobia, of which there is none

"As the interministerial committee, we’ve concluded that South Africans are not xenophobic."

Interministerial committee chairman Jeff Radebe in November, on the committee’s investigation of xenophobic attacks earlier in the year.

Y is for youth, loyal in the face of crisis

"This hullabaloo that is in the country, that the rand has fallen because of the results of the reshuffle, are quite mischievous because you would know that we are in a recession and our economy is not growing at the rate at which we want it to grow, even during Nhlanhla Nene’s term."

ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine, defending Zuma’s decision to fire the finance minister in December, that plunged local markets into chaos and sparked concern about dire consequences for the economy.

Z is for Zuma, overseeing it all

"Our democracy remains solid. All our democratic institutions, including government agencies, are strong and functional."

Zuma in February, during the state of the nation debate.