JOHANNESBURG - Are South Africans waking up to the power of social media and turning that into active citizenry? Are we on the verge of a ‘South African Spring’?
2015 has been the year of hashtags that called for political leaders and famous personalities to fall.
The president stole the spot for the Newsmaker of the year from the #FeesMustFall movement.
Jacob Zuma shocked the nation when he fired the country’s finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him David van Rooyen before reappointing former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to the position.
The announcement by Zuma sent markets into panic and the rand plunged.
The hashtag #ZumaMustFall soon trended on social media and that escalated to marches across the country.
Protests about racism and the language of instruction at several South African university campuses blossomed into one of the biggest rallies in the country’s history.
The #FeesMustFall campaign shook the country and marked a turning point in the fight for equal education.
The movement saw students taking their demands to Parliament and finally to the Union Buildings.
Some likened the protest to 1976 where pupils protested about the use of Afrikaans as a medium language.
The protest was a catalyst in higher education and forced the government to agree to deal with the issue of high varsity fees, resulting in #FeesHaveFallen.
President Jacob Zuma announced a 0% fee increase after students marched to the Union Buildings.
Government says R2.3-billion will be made available to address the shortfall. An additional R2.039 billion is required in the 2016/17 financial year for National Student Financial Aid Scheme students to receive support.
AKA and Cassper
Two of the biggest names in South African Hip Hop, AKA and Cassper broke the internet with their apparent 'beef'.
The spat escalated when Cassper accused AKA of slapping him at a nightclub.
AKA released his ‘diss track’, Composure, which led to Cassper responding with his Dust 2 Dust track before he sold 20,000 tickets to #FillUpTheDome.
Both artists have done bigger things in 2015, with Cassper’s Tsholofelo album going platinum and AKA’s 2014 album selling Gold.
Despite this the rappers continued to take shots at each other.
At this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards Cassper went on a rant about how a platinum selling album can’t be compared with a gold selling album after the two won the Milestone Award.
Cassper complained about how radio stations were not playing his music and how he should have been treated like Beyonce.
Meanwhile his rival became the most played radio artist locally and started a hashtag #TreatedLikeBeyonce.
An interesting year for SA hip hop.
Economic Freedom Fighters March
The year in news wouldn't be complete without Julius Malema and his party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The EFF staged a march to the Chamber of Mines, the Reserve Bank and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
There was an estimated 40 000 to 50 000 EFF supporters.
The march began dialogue about the contribution of the private sector to broader South Africa.
The EFF at Parliament was always going to be interesting.
Parliament had never been as entertaining before Julius Malema and his troops made debates a must-watch.
The removal of MPs became a pattern when the EFF was ejected for disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.
Signal jamming, chaos and insults, Parliament was forced to adopt new rules.
The South African comedian made headlines by being announced as the new host for the American Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
Noah is the executive producer and writer of the show.
His journey with the show started in 2014 when he joined The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a contributor.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader became the first black leader of South Africa’s opposition party.
He was elected leader of the DA at the party's 2015 Federal Congress in Port Elizabeth, succeeding Helen Zille.
Maimane’s election was heralded as a positive move for a party that has been struggling to win over the black majority.
Oscar Pistorius grabbed headlines again this year when he returned to court.
The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein converted Judge Thokozile Masipa’s culpable homicide verdict to murder.
The Paralympian killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria in February 2013.
His sentencing proceedings have now been halted – so he can attempt to fight his conviction in the Constitutional Court.
Pistorius’s lawyers argue the Supreme Court of Appeal should never have heard the State’s appeal in the first place, as it involved a challenge to Judge Masipa’s factual findings on the case, and not her legal interpretation.
The state is legally only allowed to challenge findings of law.
Mention load-shedding and South Africans take to social media about their frustrations with Eskom.
After months of load-shedding, the power utility scaled back on power cuts.
The appointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO also saw the load-shedding issue improve.
Who are your 2015 newsmakers? Tell us in the comment section below.