Political leader of the year: Vuyo Zungula
Vuyolwethu Zungula stands out as a young political leader who has a great future ahead of him.
The leader of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) single-handedly made his party’s presence felt in Parliament after becoming one of the youngest MPs following the success of the 2019 general elections.
A thorn on the side of leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa, Zungula led a series of submissions and challenges in the National Assembly in a bid to hold the president and his cabinet accountable, including on the Phala Phala farm scandal.
Without using theatrics to attract attention, Zungula challenged the Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka’s report clearing President Cyril Ramaphosa of wrongdoing in Phala Phala matter, as well as the South African Reserve Bank’s finding that Ramaphosa did not violate the Exchange Control Regulations.
Newsmaker of the year: Busisiwe Mkhwebane
What would 2023 be without axed, former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who fought tooth and nail against her impeachment from office?
It all started in 2022, when Mkhwebane decided to investigate the Phala Phala farm scandal. After she sent Ramaphosa 31 questions, the president quickly suspended her, paving the way for the establishment of the Committee for Section 194 inquiry which eventually found her unfit to hold office last year.
In September, Mkhwebane was officially removed from office after 318 MPs in the National Assembly voted in support of her impeachment. She was later impeached by the committee. However, Mkhwebane who has proved to be woman of steel, was recruited by the EFF and sworn in as the party’s MP in October 2023.
Earlier in the year, Mkhwebane’s tell-all press briefing implicated chairperson of the Section 194 inquiry, Richard Dyantyi, ANC Chief whip Pemmy Majodina and former ANC MP, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, as three individuals who tried to extort R600K from her husband, David Skosana, to make the inquiry into her fitness to hold office, disappear.
Man of the year: Collen Mashawana
This past year belonged to social entrepreneur and business person, Collen Mashawana, the Chairperson of Afribiz and founder of The Collen Mashawana Foundation. Last year, the foundation dedicated itself to eradicating poverty through education and job creation, while also donating brand new homes to many deserving South Africans and building no less than 30 houses, mostly for the elderly.
Community builder of the year: Gift of the Givers
With KZN currently facing another stint of flashfloods, the death of Gift of the Givers founder Ahmed Abbasi will be felt for years to come. Abbasi was killed while returning from a morning prayer with his brother in Gaza, Palestine, late last year.
Over the years, Abbasi served the people of war-torn Gaza with distinction after he was appointed head of the Gift of the Givers office in the region. He is credited with having implemented multiple projects, including the care of orphans, widows, the elderly and the ill as well as delivering water, food parcels, and hot meals, and upgrading damaged homes.
Woman of the Year: Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng
In 2018, the University of Cape Town Council officially announced that Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng had been appointed as the new Vice-Chancellor with effect from 1 July 2018. However, she never got to enjoy her tenure for long because of her removal from office in early 2023.
However, she was hired by President Cyril Ramaphosa to be among the 11-member-national orders advisory council. Her early retirement has proved to be good for the gracious professor who revels in living life on her own terms. A favourite among social media users, if she is not hiking, she is swimming, travelling and showing South Africans how to live life to the fullest.
Sportsperson of the year: Siya Kolisi
Last year, Springsbok Captain Siya Kolisi delivered his second rugby world cup in four years thus cementing his place as the greatest rugby captain ever.
This man from humble beginnings in Zwide township in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, has been credited with managing a complex rugby team while remaining true to himself and what he stands for. Over the years Kolisi has seen his brand take off locally and internationally.
Fashion innovator of the year: Thebe Magugu
When it comes to fashion, Thebe Magugu has done wonderful things in the past year. This world conquering fashion designer began on a high note, having staged a brilliant debut show in London in October 2022. He then followed this up with a showcase of his fall collection via private appointments in Paris, and with a look-book that was captured by documentary photographer Pieter Hugo. .Since establishing his namesake label in 2016, Magugu has earned critical acclaim for his thoughtful and inventive collections that comment on African history, culture and politics.
Entertainer of the the year: Uncle Waffles
Female DJ, Uncle Waffles won the hearts of the world in 2023. The Amapiano sensation was also crowned ‘Woman of the Year 2023’ by none other than GQ South Africa, after breaking all sorts of boundaries locally and internationally.
CNN has revealed that in just two short years, Uncle Waffles transformed her entire life – from taking her first steps behind the turntable, to becoming an internationally acclaimed DJ and producer. Now that’s a winner.
Iconic Moment of the Year: Julius Malema’s ascension
The iconic political moment of the year 2023 belongs to none other than EFF leader, Julius Malema, who astounded sceptics when his party filled up the FNB Stadium to celebrate the Economic Freedom Fighter’s 10th year anniversary on July 29, 2023. His closing speech as he rose up while being lifted into the air on a moveable stage was truly iconic, and one for the history books.