What’s new in the new year?

Henry

The old year is over and the new year brings with it old and new problems, but also the possibility for change and renewal. Here are five topics likely to grab the headlines in 2024.

National election

Experts agree that the local political landscape is likely to be dominated by the 2024 election. The election will probably take place between May and August and the expectation is that the ANC will get less than 50% of the vote for the first time. The party may also lose its power in large provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. However, it remains to be seen whether the ANC will accept this outcome in good faith.

Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are always an exciting event on any sporting calendar. The Games will be held in Paris, France from July 26 to August 11 this year and South Africa will likely look to its swimmers again to come up with the gold, silver and bronze performances.

Tatjana Schoenmaker will once again aim for gold in her preferred event (200m breaststroke) in France.

Rising stars such as Lara van Niekerk and Pieter Coetzé also have their eye on medals in the pool, while Chad le Clos is again (perhaps for the last time) ready for a spotlight.

The Blitzbokke will first have to come out and show in Monaco if they want to qualify for the Olympic spectacle in Paris.

On the athletics front, Akani Simbine must be the favorite to run away with a medal, while Wayde van Niekerk will throw everything into the battle to turn back the clock on the 400 m course.

Feel free to also keep an eye on Gerda Steyn – she recently gave a great performance in Valencia and if everything goes well she can win a medal in the marathon race.

Important legislation

The ANC will do its best to have bills such as amendments to the Schools Act (Bela) and the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) signed by the president before the election. If this does not happen, the legislation expires, and the whole process must start all over again. Both the Bela draft laws have already been accepted in the National Assembly and have been sent to the provincial legislatures to discuss and approve them. The Council of Provinces will then vote on it again, after which Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa will finally declare it law or refer it back for further reflection. However, the NGV has already been approved by the Council of Provinces and only needs to be signed by Ramaphosa. However, several organisations, including Solidarity and AfriForum, are ready to fight both bills in court.

War

Israeli troops and military vehicles are positioned near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas.  The graffiti in blue reads:

There is still no end in sight in the war between Russia and Ukraine, which will have been raging for two years in February this year. Ukraine launched a serious counter-attack in November last year and several Western countries are currently supplying Ukraine with weapons. However, Russia shows no sign that it is going to retreat any time soon and due to advanced technology and weapons on both sides, the war has now reached a stalemate. Experts believe the war could last until 2025.

As far as the war between Israel and Hamas is concerned, it seems that Israel has the upper hand and fighting may come to an end in early 2024. Israel has already indicated that it is not in favor of a so-called “two-state solution” and that it wants to take full control of the Gaza Strip again. This could lead to renewed conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Eskom and load shedding

A Minister of Electricity was appointed last year to solve the problem with regard to load shedding. By June 2023, however, South Africa had already experienced more load shedding than in the whole of 2022. The energy regulation amendment bill is likely to be passed early this year. This will pave the way for an independent network operator and the creation of an open, competitive power market. However, experts agree that load shedding will be with us at least until the end of 2024, even if politicians will try to convince South Africans to the contrary in the run-up to the election.