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Democratic Alliance leader and Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille was named Newsmaker of the Year for 2006 by the National Press Club in Pretoria on Wednesday.
"Following the municipal elections in March, she eventually became mayor after deals with smaller political parties. The balance of power in Cape Town remained controversial and newsworthy throughout the year," said chairperson Patrick Hlahla.
"Other issues that kept her in the national media include the dismissal of the previous municipal manager, the city's readiness to participate in the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament, specifically in relation to the Green Point Stadium, and the N2 Gateway housing project."
A press club statement added that the media had also focused on the city's handling of municipal debts when organisations owing large sums - even a provincial government department - suddenly found themselves without electricity.
"Also, media speculation around the successor of DA leader Tony Leon, positioning Zille as a strong contender, kept her in the public eye until the end of 2006."
Hlahla said the award was made on the grounds of impact, news value and media attention, both print and electronic and follows nominations received from club members, based on newsworthiness and the extent of media coverage received.
The runner-up was Kabelo Thibedi, who held hostage a department of home affairs official in a desperate attempt to obtain his identity document.
Other nominations were African National Congress Deputy President Jacob Zuma - National Press Club Newsmaker in 2005 - fraud-convicted businessman Schabir Shaik, Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, previous Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon, and escaped and re-arrested convict Ananias Mathe. - Sapa