And the top ten newsmakers are –
Zuma, Juju and the Dalai Llama among the admired and maligned making headlines this year
JOURNALISTS and editors had more than enough to fill their papers thanks to these 10 newsmakers of 2011.
Love him or hate him, embattled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema landed on his fair share of front pages this year. In 2011 Malema demanded the nationalisation of mines, marched for economic freedom ( and then relaxed at a multimillion-rand wedding in Mauritius) and insulted Botswana’s leadership. He also got himself suspended from the ANC for five years.
But you can’t keep him down.
Earlier this month he was mocking the president with the Jacob Zuma “‘shower” hand gesture and just this week it emerged that there would be a clothing line inspired by Malema.
On the same day that Malema was marching for economic freedom, the DA’S Lindiwe Mazibuko, a woman he refused to challenge in an open debate in May, calling her a “tea girl”, was being sworn in as the first black woman and the youngest MP to be elected leader of the opposition in Parliament.
Mazibuko’s face was already known to many South Africans, having featured on the “girl power” DA posters created for the May elections which also featured DA leader Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Mazibuko’s campaign against Athol Trollip for her new position was also one of the most public yet for the party.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday was always going to make headlines.
But when his friend the Dalai Lama was denied entry to SA, it caused an international media frenzy.
And Tutu wasn’t his usual “Mr Nice Guy” self either, hitting out at the government: “I am warning you, as I warned the Nationalists, one day we will pray for the defeat of the ANC government.”
The two friends did, however, chat via video link-up during the birthday celebrations, giggling and joking like schoolboys.
On April 5, SA lensman Anton Hammerl was shot and killed in Libya. It was first believed that he was being detained by Libyan officials and across the country people joined the “Free Anton Hammerl” campaign.
It was only in May, when other journalists who had been detained were released, that the world learned that Hammerl, in Libya to cover the civil war there, had been shot and left for dead in the desert. His body has not been found.
One man who made SA headlines without even having to set foot in the country, and now probably never will, was rugby referee Bryce Lawrence.
Lawrence, the New Zealander who refereed the Rugby World Cup match between SA and Australia, was accused of making serious mistakes, quickly becoming the man most hated by South Africans.
Facebook groups sullying his name still exist.
SA lost the game 9-11, exiting the tournament. Nevertheless, this month the New Zealand Rugby Union named him their top referee of the year – the fourth time he has won the accolade.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was one of those named Newsmaker of the Year by the Johannesburg Press Club this year.
Madonsela made headlines this year when she released hard-hitting reports on corruption. Falling under her scrutiny twere the police lease scandal and the Midvaal municipality, the only Da-run municipality in Gauteng.
Madonsela was put under pressure, too, with police raids on her office and reports that she would be arrested on charges of corruption dating back to her tenure at the SA Law Reform Commission.
Madonsela’s reports forced Jacob Zuma, Weekend Argus’s next newsmaker, to take action.
After having earned himself a reputation as a man of little action, Zuma finally took control earlier this year when he suspended police chief Bheki Cele and axed cabinet ministers Gwen MahlanguNkabinde (Public Works, for her role in the leasing scandal) and Sicelo Shiceka (Co-operative Government, for his extravagant trips on the taxpayers’ dime). Zuma also set up a commission of inquiry into the Arms Deal.
Cele, who remains suspended, is also a newsmaker this year, not just because of the leasing scandal.
Last year he referred to murder accused Shrien Dewani as a “monkey”, a statement he was forced to retract.
In January Cele also referred to himself as “legally illiterate”, which was picked up and misconstrued by media across the world.
Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng hit the headlines immediately when he was named as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.
The nomination became an instant controversy, with his questionable judgments (including one in which he reduced a rapist’s sentence because the rapist had been aroused by his wife and had used minimal force) were resurrected.
His religious views and his opinions on gay and lesbian rights were also questioned.
Justice Mogoeng’s name was in the papers so much that during his interview for the position in September he read out a 47- page rebuttal and decried the “five weeks of merciless attacks” he had suffered.
In 2011, headlines were generally dominated by the Protection of Information (Posi) Bill, dubbed the “Secrecy Bill”.
Several well-known critics, including Tutu and Kader Asmal, spoke out against it and the negative effects it would have on freedom of speech.
And when the bill was voted in by Parliament on November 22, the day was declared “Black Tuesday”, with thousands of South Africans and members of the media dressing in black to protest its passing.
Next year the bill will go before the National Council of Provinces, and is likely to dominate headlines again in 2012.
MOCKING ZUMA: Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema mimics a showerhead as delegates sing the 'shower song' at the ANC Limpopo Conference.
MP: Lindiwe Mazibuko
DENIED ENTRY: Dalai Lama