With Africa News Network7 (ANN7) celebrating its first anniversary in August, the 24-hour news channel decided to make it an unforgettable milestone by launching the ANN7 South African of the Year 2014 awards. Debashine Thangevelo found out more in a chat with ANN7’s group editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams…

ON AUGUST 21 last year, Africa News Network7 (ANN7) launched amid much hype on DStv. But the blooper-laden start in the first week saw the 24-hour news channel brutally roasted by a multitude of media publications.

As the well-worn cliché goes, those technical faux pas eventually became “Yesterday’s news!”.

In fact, ANN7’s group editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams acknowledged the channel’s rocky start in his speech at the nomination party for the ANN7 South African of the Year 2014 awards a few weeks ago. He also pointed out the strides they have made to smooth out those teething problems of their channel during those infancy stages. And that best explains the hullabaloo around its awards ceremony commemorating ANN7’s first year on air.

He adds: “As part of our first anniversary we wanted to celebrate extraordinary South Africans and decided to launch the ANN7 South African of the Year awards. The awards celebration is also underpinned by the 20 years of democracy.”

Williams continues, “Making it an annual event is under consideration.”

The judging panel comprises prominent media names.

He notes, “Our judging panel comprises of ‘masterminds’ and committee members together with the public and jury votes which will be audited by KPMG.

“The ‘masterminds’ are drawn from the country’s most pre-eminent editors and former editors and include Mathatha Tsedu, Yusuf Abramjee, Chris Whitfield, Mike Siluma, Paula Fray, Jovial Rantao and Moshoeshoe Monare.”

The diverse categories include: Trendsetting Celebrity of the Year: Bonang Matheba, DJ Clock, J’Something, Kid X, KO from Teargas, Mafikizolo, Minnie Dlamini; Campaign of the Year: 67 Blankets Nelson Mandela, KFC – Add Hope, Kelloggs #breakfastforbetterdays, Knorr – Masters of Time, Mxit Music, Share a Coke Campaign, Tiles 4 Change (Anti-Drug Campaign); Sportsperson of the Year: swimmer Chad Le Clos, Proteas captain Hashim Amla, soccer star Itumeleng Khune, track and field athlete Johan Cronje, tennis player Lucas Sithole, hockey personality Marsha Cox, 100m sprinter Simon Maghakwe; Businessperson of the Year: media mogul Basetsana Kumalo, Executive Chairman of Kalagadi Resources Daphne Mashile Nkosi, JSE chief executive Nicky Newton King, mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, non-Executive Chairman of Nedbank Reuel Khoza, Independent non-Executive Director of Tiger Brands Santie Botha, Group chief executive of Aspen Pharmacare.

The remaining categories are: Spirit of Humanity: Beka Ntsanwisi for Limpopo’s Mother Teresa, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman for Gift of the Givers, John Perlman for Dreamfields, Justin Foxton for The Peace Agency, Lesley Osler for Hantam Community Project, Rev Eunice Marubelela and Sbu Buthelezi for Community Builder; Young South African of the Year: Afeefah Patel for Rhino Conservation, scientist Ethel Phiri, jazz musician Kyle Shepherd, film producer Nkululeko Mboniswa, social activist Samantha Baynon, Sandile Kubeka and Simphiwe Mashexa as the founder of Beat Magazine SA; and South African of the Year: Archbisop Desmond Tutu, DJ Sbu, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Johnny Clegg, Leslie Sedibe and Thuli Madonsela.

Getting back to ANN7, Williams says, “With our recent election coverage during April/May this year and our groundbreaking show called SA Decides, we jumped to third position on the top viewed news channels. On average we rank 4th on the top viewed news channels. It’s been a solid start in a highly competitive news environment.”

They plan on retaining that edge with the addition of shows like Political Edge, Sessions, Sizzle, Buzz @ANN7, Vuka Africa, Torque and I am South African.

Meanwhile, Nhlanhla Nciza from the award-winning Afro-pop duo Mafikizolo was euphoric at their nomination. She said: “We are very much excited and we are humbled by the nomination. So many people are doing well in our entertainment industry and to be chosen among them means so much. Being a trendsetter also entails your behaviour within the industry. Are you a good role model? Are you giving back to the community?”

Following their BET nomination earlier this year, Mafikizolo are all the rage on TV as MTN’s new ambassadors.

Nciza says, “It has been an amazing year. Signing the deal with MTN… I think we are probably the first from the entertainment side. And it is exciting to partner with such a big brand and to note that corporate South Africa is starting to see the value of artists here.”

Although Mafikizolo haven’t decided what they will perform at the awards ceremony, she points out, “I love bringing out the fashionista in me. I normally wear a beautiful, classy gown for the red carpet and I become crazy and creative when it comes to the performance outfit. Aside from the dancing, we also place emphasis on how we look on stage.”

One thing is certain – this grand event will be making news. This time, for all the right reasons…

The ANN7 South African of the Year 2014 awards will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday, September 6.