The National Press Club on Sunday named Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema as its joint newsmakers of the year.
The Club’s chairperson Yusuf Abramjee said the two, more often than not, dominated the media environment in 2011.
“In 2011, Madonsela was the strongest voice for good governance that rights administrative wrongs,” he said in a statement.
Madonsela finding on the controversial leasing of buildings for the police service resulted in President Jacob Zuma firing two ministers and suspending Bheki Cele, the national police commissioner.
“The impact of her work is priceless, seen in the context of South Africa — both in the private and public sector — where corruption and maladministration is rife. Her strong leadership, accompanied by decisive actions, assist greatly in leading the country to a corrupt-free society,” said Abramjee.
And like-him-or-loathe-him Malema’s “antics, controversial statements and appearances”, dominated the local agenda throughout the year.
“Never before has a nation been so gripped, divided or united by news made by one individual”, said Abramjee.
Malema has made headlines locally and internationally — on issues of nationalisation and regime change in Botswana.
Told by the press club of the awards, Abramjee said, Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu told the club: “We are not participating in any of these things. You can go ahead and no leader of the ANC Youth League will be involved and no message will be sent. Please stop any form of communication with the ANC Youth League.”
Madonsela said the decision came as a surprise.
“I thank the National Press Club for giving recognition to the team that I lead. It ensures that the people of South Africa get justice when they have been unfairly treated by government and also helps government to improve its service delivery and governance,” she said, according to Abramjee.
Previous years have seen President Jacob Zuma, Charlize Theron, Zachie Achmat and the Treatment Action Campaign, and Eskom as newsmakers of the year.
The 2010 honours went to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and sports administrator Danny Jordaan. –Sapa