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Your favourite Mail & Guardian stories for 2010

We take a look at the stories that grabbed your attention in 2010 and prompted you to comment.

Zapiro and the Prophet Muhammad
Prophet Muhammad cartoons have never been well-liked by man within the Muslim faith. The Mail & Guardian knew this but the cartoon followed the uproar surrounding the Facebook page, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” which was a result of threats from a radical Muslim group against the creators of the United States TV series South Park for its depiction of the prophet in a bear suit.

Zapiro’s cartoon, published in the M&G‘s May 21 edition was in reaction to this and depicted the Prophet Muhammad reclining on a psychiatrist’s couch bemoaning his followers’ lack of humour. Needless to say that very few Muslims found the cartoon funny. The story, Uproar over M&G Prophet Muhammad cartoon was the M&G‘s second most read story in 2010 with 132 174 page views and 177 story comments from readers.

Zuma under attack
South Africans were pleased to see President Jacob Zuma publicly scold the firebrand African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema for his ill discipline and rebelliousness. But turns out not everyone was happy. In our story ANC backlash against Zuma for tackling Malema it became even clearer that the ANC was more divided that the public had envisaged. The article reported how members of the ANC’s top leadership — who backed ANC Youth League president Julius Malema — were planning to take President Jacob Zuma to task over his public scolding of the youth leader.

In the article the Mail&Guardian exposed how Malema’s supporters planned to tell Zuma that he was wrong to criticise Malema in public. The article further revealed that those unhappy with Zuma’s public reprimand included then Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and ANC national treasurer Mathews Phosa. This was the M&G’s third most read article with 82 917 page views. The article received 197 comments.

Malema on handouts
Hearing ANCYL leader Julius Malema proclaim that he lived on handouts was shocking. Especially when these handouts include a Breitling watch worth R 250,000 not to mention the expensive cars he has been spotted in. Surely ethics count for something when accepting expensive gifts, or does this only apply in journalism?

In an exclusive interview, Mail & Guardian journalists Matuma Letsoalo and Rapule Tabane interviewed the controversial youth and received what the journalism fraternity would call an interview filled with dial-a-quotes.

In the interview Malema was quizzed on his views regarding the proposal of lifestyle audits of public-officials, whether he had used his influential position as ANCYL president to lobby for buisness for people close to him and whether he had opened a new war front with journalists reporting on him. The story Julius Malema: ‘I live on handouts’ was the M&G’s was the fifth most read story for 2010, with 54 538 page views and a whopping 203 comments.

Duduzane Zuma
South Africa has very few billionaires, so finding out that President Jacob Zuma’s 28-year-old son Duduzane Zuma was heading for his first billion had many wondering how. The story Zuma Jnr heading for first billion revealed how ArcelorMittal (Amsa) chief executive Nku Nyembezi-Heita justified how “strategic” as opposed to broad-based investors were included “where a company needs assistance in a particular area”. Asked why the president’s son’s company should get a stake as large as the Guptas’ and Zungu’s combined, the spokesperson was stumped, saying: “I can see what you’re saying: Was there a greater contribution from Mabengela [Investments] to warrant it? Or was it purely based on the fact that he’s the president’s son that he qualifies for that additional percentage? That I don’t know. I cannot answer you for sure.” The story was the Mail & Guardian’s sixth most read story for 2010, grabbing 50 612 page views and 163 comments.

Here comes the bride — again
There is no doubt most of South Africa was confused about how many wives our president had at the beginning of the year. If you weren’t Zulu and didn’t understand lobola negotiations you were even more in the dark. All the president’s women broke it down, reducing the confusion by listing all the wives and even including pictures so that you could recognise our first ladies. Another arguable number was how many children Msholozi had fathered. While that is still not crystal clear the article was the closest we may ever come to finding out the truth. The article received 50 612 page views and 119 comments.

View more highlights of the year that was in our special report here:

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