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Vote for Daily Maverick’s People of the Year 2022

Vote for Daily Maverick’s People of the Year 2022

There certainly have been many high-stakes players who had a massive impact on our world over the past year, and not always in a good way. We looked back at 2022 and couldn’t deny the impact the characters below had on our world. Vote and let us know who you think deserves to win each of the categories.

South African Person of the Year

A person who has had the broadest or most significant impact on the country as a whole. The winner should be someone whose impact was positive, but please note that we now also have a separate category for “South African villain of the year”.


Adv. Andrea Johnson, head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate
Johnson galvanised the Investigating Directorate into action, leading to the dramatic arrest of former Eskom acting chief executive Matshela Koko, at his home in Centurion. Along with seven other accused, including his wife and stepdaughters, Koko appeared in court on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering. The work didn’t stop there, as numerous other cases connected to State Capture are being pursued.

Outa’s Wayne Duvenage
After a decade-long fight, Outa (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse), led by Wayne Duvenage as CEO, won the battle against e-tolls this year, saving motorists and businesses tons of money.

SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter
Collecting tax is vital in South Africa because the fiscus supports a significant social welfare system – the largest in Africa and certainly one of the most significant in the developing world. To have accomplished what SARS has throughout Covid-19 (when the economy declined) and in a low-growth year, has been outstanding. Where it has been even more notable is retrieving the organisation from the jaws of capture and doing so without occupying the headlines. A masterclass and a pity that its efforts in collection are so squandered by a governing class that continues to steal and mismanage with abandon.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis
The 35-year-old Geordin Hill-Lewis hardly had time to move into his new sixth-floor office in the Civic Centre after being inaugurated in November 2021 when a massive blaze incinerated Parliament 0n 2 January. Hill-Lewis and the Western Cape premier later made the newly renovated City Hall available to serve as Parliament. President Cyril Ramaphosa made his February SONA from the same building from whose balcony Mandela in bronze waves eternally.

Hill-Lewis has been one of the most hard-working and visible mayors the city has seen. Under his leadership the City has focused on sewage repairs and upgrades; Hill-Lewis also drove a bid which saw $4.5-million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation going towards a pilot project. He has focused on homelessness as well as finding methods to mitigate load shedding for residents. The City has opened up paths to renewables and announced that it will build a solar plant by 2023. Also, it is due to pay independent energy producers to feed power into the grid.

Cast your vote below or click here.

South African Villain of the Year

Sadly, there were no shortage of suggestions in this self-explanatory category…


Nhlanhla Lux
“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” said Harvey Dent in 2018’s The Dark Knight. Back in 2021, during the July riots, Nhlanhla Lux became something of a hero as he led a group that protected Maponya Mall in Soweto from looters. By 2022, he had positioned himself as the face and voice of Operation Dudula, a movement fuelled by and promoting xenophobia against fellow Africans and their businesses.

Owners and managers of Enyobeni Tavern
It could be argued that the spread of crime and violence in our country has desensitised our continuously traumatised people. But even in a country like ours, the preventable deaths of 21 teenagers at Enyobeni Tavern’s alcohol-fuelled party marketed to underaged kids, is a truly dark stain. Those behind it are strong contenders for SAVOTY.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane
“Public Protector.” The title says it all, and Mkhwebane’s predecessor paved the way and showed us how it should be done. With all the challenges the country faces, a person of character would surely be humbled by the title as well as rise to the occasion. Not so Mkhwebane, keeper of anti-Semitic company, protector of Zuma, and spectacular loser of court cases. Perhaps, with your vote, she can add SAVOTY to her many accolades.

Fikile Mbalula
Strictly speaking, the SAVOTY should be judged on their actions in the past year, but Minister Fikile the Mbalusional is a special kind of SAVOTY candidate, with a body of work in the dark arts that spans a number of years, something of a Lifetime Achievement. Still, ever the diligent practitioner of said dark arts, the Mbalusional transport minister had to be ordered by the courts this year to put a stop to attacks, apparently by disgruntled taxi associations, on buses belonging to long-distance bus operator Intercape.

Zweli Mkhize
Dr Mkhize returns once again as a nominee this year. Not satisfied with being nominated last year for betraying “the trust of the country by giving dodgy Covid-19 deals to enrich friends and family”, this year he displayed cahoonas of Zumangous proportions when he put up his hand for the ANC leadership contest, while facing accusations of serious wrongdoing. Trumpian at best, SAVOTY at worst. You decide.

Cast your vote below or click here.

South African Institution of the Year

Institutional strength is vital to build democracy and hold the forces of capture at bay. Think of where we might have been but for the SA Reserve Bank, the National Treasury and others which have proven their mettle. Good institutions undergird good democracies.


Painful as this might be among us taxpayers, we must nominate SARS, where reform has moved much more quickly than that at Eskom or Transnet. This institution has been rebuilt quickly and effectively after the State Capture years of the previous commissioner, Tom Moyane. Collections are up, helped by a growing tax base and a commodities boom, but also streamlined with system changes by commissioner Edward Kieswetter. He and his teams have quietly docked R4-billion in taxes back from State Capture accused and also dealt with the illegal cigarette mafia, as Pauli van Wyk has reported. SARS also put the rogue unit saga to bed and paid reparations to former staff harmed by the disinformation campaign staged by Moyane, Bain and an old guard at SARS.

National Treasury
National Treasury stood firm during the State Capture years and blocked spending proposals that would have pushed South Africa’s public finances and economy to collapse. Treasury officials were brave enough to push back against former president Jacob Zuma’s proposed R1-trillion nuclear deal with Russia, which South Africa could not afford. Many officials were hounded out of Treasury and abused for rebuffing the nuclear deal.

Treasury has exercised prudence in recent years in how it has managed the public purse. The Covid pandemic started as a health crisis but escalated quickly to an economic crisis. Treasury managed to spend money on health measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus and offer economic relief to distressed households without causing a daunting and unsustainable crisis in public finances. It has also begun to rein in government spending, reduce smothering debt levels, reject requests from state-owned enterprises for government bailouts, and help to implement pro-growth and investment in structural reforms.

Year after year, the Auditor-General continues to fulfil its mandate of accountability in how public finances are managed and spent. The Auditor-General’s office, led by Tsakani Maluleke, is fearless in calling out government departments and organs of state for wasting taxpayer funds (through unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure) in its audit reports, and not publishing financial statements on time.

Auditor-General staff do this kind of work in an environment of hostility as some receive threats from municipal officials and have even been shot at. Some municipal officials tried to bribe Auditor-General staff to alter adverse audit findings. Although the Auditor-General’s office is a body with a crucial role in revealing financial mismanagement, it is often criticised for not having enough teeth in holding government departments and state organs to account and stemming the tide of unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The complaint has been that nothing is done about the adverse audit failings the Auditor-General makes. But without its efficiency, the public would not know the full extent of mismanagement across all spheres of government.

Cast your vote below or click here.

International Person of the Year

(IPOTY) is as an honour to be bestowed on someone who had done the most good, fighting for a better world


Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Faced with the ultimate worst-case scenario, President Zelensky has and continues to rise to the moment, relentlessly fighting for and inspiring his people, while successfully rallying world leaders for support over the past nine months. As the year comes to a close, it has become clear that under his leadership, Russian President Vladimir Putin heavily overestimated his country’s military might.

Women protesters in Iran
After 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran for “improperly” wearing her hijab, she was placed in detention, beaten into a coma and died three days later on September 16th, 2022. Since then, Iranian women have taken to the streets protesting in solidarity. They are burning hijabs and cutting their hair in public as a demonstration to Iran’s government that women do not belong to them.

Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Shireen Abu Akleh was a talented and committed veteran American-Palestinian journalist who worked as a reporter for Al Jazeera for 25 years. In May 2022, while covering protests in the Jenin refugee camps, Abu Akleh, who was wearing a blue vest with “PRESS” written on it, was shot and killed. She was one of the most prominent names across the Middle East for her decades of dedication to covering and reporting on war and politics in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Egyptian-British hunger striker and political activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah
Abd el-Fattah is Egypt’s highest-profile political prisoner, whose hunger strike drew international attention to the plight of almost 65,000 political detainees held in Egypt during the Cop27 climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh. Abd el-Fattah, a blogger and democracy activist, rose to prominence in Egypt’s 2011 uprising before being swept up in a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent after Sisi, then army chief, led the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Mursi.

Cast your vote below or click here.

International Villain of the Year (IVOTY)

Where do we even begin? So much evil, so little time. However, this bunch worked really hard to make the world a shittier place.


Vladimir Putin
Many of us would arguably be heartened by the late great Dr Martin Luther King Jnr’s words: “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Not so for a certain Russian rectal cancer in human form. Vladimir Putin looked at Dr King’s words and said, hold my drink, and proceeded to unleash death and suffering on humanity. Many have tried in 2022, but few have come close to being as truly villainous as Putin.

Justice Samuel Alito and the conservative judges (Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) who joined Alito in the majority at the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade
Continuing the theme of bending the “arc of the moral universe” towards injustice and suffering, this bunch took it upon themselves to reverse the US’ decades of progress when it comes to the rights of women and autonomy over their bodies, and forced their worldview on them when they struck down Roe vs Wade. One hopes that, indeed, Dr King was right and the arc will eventually bend towards justice, but for now the suffering and potential deaths that their decision will lead to make them strong contenders for IVOTY. Once again, you decide.

Elon Musk, the Twit in Chief
Twitter’s outsized impact can make it easy to forget that the platform doesn’t even make it into the top 10 social media platforms in terms of active users and subscribers. With his $44-billion acquisition of the platform, Elon Musk not only wreaked havoc on the lives of Twitter employees, but he added gallons more fuel to the dumpster fire it already was. While the platform has increased real-time access to information, commentary and public figures, there is no doubt that it has also led to the spread of misinformation and hate. With his entry as a seemingly inept owner of this digital town square, Musk has put the spotlight on many of its (and his) shortcomings, arguably burning it ever closer to the ground. Bar the impact of his actions on the livelihoods of employees, some might say this reduction of Twitter’s impact on popular discourse is not an altogether bad thing. But does that make Musk IPOTY? Your vote decides.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Businessperson of the Year

Not necessarily the person who made the biggest profit, but those whose influence went beyond the balance sheets.


Shoprite’s Pieter Engelbrecht
Engelbrecht took over as CEO of Shoprite Holdings on 1 January 2017 and has taken an already strong and established business to extraordinary heights. He has presided over the innovative ideas such as the Xtra Savings rewards programme, Sixty60 delivery service, virtual vouchers and the expansion of the community-based Usave brand. Shoprite has been achieving leading market share gains, along with improvements in sales and profits. The company ensured job security for its 150,000 employees during the Covid crisis and has been at the forefront of meeting the environmental challenge.

FlySafair’s Elmar Conradie
Conradie started the commercial FlySafair business in 2014 (the company is older) and nobody gave them a chance: 10 airlines had gone bankrupt over the previous decade. And yet, here they are, one of the few survivors in this extraordinary industry. It must have been an ordeal to survive the pandemic, but somehow the airline has emerged on the other side and grabbed the market share given up by its two great rivals, SAA and Kulula.

Yoco CEO and co-founder Katlego Maphai
Yoco aims to be a payments solution for small businesses and consequently blends business, tech and inclusion. Last year, it raised $107-million, the largest capital raise of any South African fintech and the largest by any small business-focused payments platform in the Middle East and Africa. Yoco is still growing, and is one of the most promising start-ups on the continent.

Cast your vote below or click here

Artist of the Year (AOTY)

Comedians, musicians, actors and artists whose creativity has tickled our funny bones, touched our hearts, lifted our spirits and helped us navigate this crazy world


Trevor Noah
Who doesn’t love a Southa done good? Mr Noah has gone one step further, followed his heart, we think, and quit the Daily Show after seven years, choosing to spend more time in South Africa, as well as continuing to do what he is best at, stand-up comedy.

Taylor Swift
She scored a 10 out of 10 to become the first artist in history to claim the Top 10 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, with tracks from her latest album, Midnights.

Black Coffee
In case some still doubt Black Coffee’s global reach, the DJ put a stamp on it this year when he won a Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album for his seventh studio album, becoming the first African artist to win this category.

Neil Coppen, Mpume Mthombeni and Dr Dylan McGarry, co-directors of Empatheatre
The groundbreaking, KZN-based Empatheatre group made it to COP27 at Sharm el-Sheikh in November. The group’s recent play, Lalela Ulwandle (“Listen to the Sea” in isiZulu) was invited to the summit by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and was performed at the One Ocean Hub. From small-scale fishermen to traditional healers, Lalela Ulwandle aims to bring recognition to the critical role these people have been playing in the climate struggle.

Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, 28
This South African soprano is making major waves abroad, including winning the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2021. She has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, won numerous international awards, and this year was one of two artists chosen by BBC Radio for its New Generation Artist programme.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Community Champion of the Year

South Africa needs community champions more than ever. These are the people who have risen to the challenge, often at great personal cost.


Corene Conradie from Gift of the Givers
When floods struck the Eastern Cape this year, the Gift of the Givers’ Eastern Cape project manager led the effort to distribute food, mattresses, blankets and clothing to affected communities. The 31-year-old Conradie is a single mom who travels the country at short notice to help where she is needed. In addition to the emergency water relief projects in the Eastern Cape, she coordinated the Jagersfontein dam collapse response, and led the response at Masiphumelele when it went up in flames.

Police Constable Busisiwe Mjwara
The 43-year-old police constable and the only woman attached to the Search and Rescue Police Diving Unit in Hilton, Pietermaritzburg, Busisiwe Mjwara lost her life in April this year when she drowned while working as part of a search-and-rescue mission during the floods that hit KZN earlier this year. Mjwara had saved many lives during the mission.

Langa for Men
Langa for Men is a social organisation started by two young men, Siyabonga Khusela and Luyolo Lengisi, from Cape Town’s Langa township. Their vision is to create a safe space for every gender and also involve everyone in the fight for women and young girls. They do this through various programmes including youth empowerment sessions, educational camps, hiking, healing sessions and boys’ workshops. Among their activities this year they’ve handed out menstrual pads in Langa throughout the year, run a soup kitchen they started in lockdown, as well the Langa Legacy soccer tournament that combines sport and education. The 20 teams that participated had to take part in a five-day workshop where they were educated on a series of topics including gender-based violence, drugs and alcohol.

Dr Tim de Maayer
Faced with crumbling infrastructure and horrendous conditions at public hospitals, which lead to preventable deaths, Dr Tim de Maayer, a paediatrician at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, penned an open letter to the Gauteng health department, which was then published by Daily Maverick. For speaking out about conditions at Rahima Moosa Hospital, Dr De Maayer was suspended, then reinstated following a public outcry.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Grinch of the Year

Those who have done their best to suck the cheer from our lives in 2022


Matshela Koko, Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh
In a scathing indictment of Matshela Koko and co’s time at Eskom, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo found Koko to have been a key player in the Gupta family’s capture of the power utility, and recommended the former CEOs Koko and Brian Molefe and former CFO Anoj Singh be criminally charged. Yet, Koko had the gall to post on Twitter: “If the Guptas indeed captured and controlled [Eskom] as it is suggested by CJ Zondo then the country has a reason to thank them… After all, they stopped load-shedding, sustained planned maintenance, and they did not burn diesel to keep the lights on.”

You just can’t make this stuff up!

Jacob Zuma for wasting our time
It’s arguable that Zuma should be Grinch of the Decade, past and present. The 80-year-old former president continues to dodge and delay potential legal consequences for his past actions. His latest stunt saw him launch another bid to get the prosecutor in the arms deal case, Billy Downer, to recuse himself. As if State Capture wasn’t enough – how much more of our time and money does this grinch plan to capture?

Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC
Try as you might, you cannot separate the President from the party he leads. While dashing around the world shaking hands with sheikhs and kings, dodging a rather murky saga of cash hidden in cushions or couches at Phala Phala, the President has allowed his party to suck the cheer out of every day, week and month of this year. Factional battles, talking anti-corruption while the next crop of cadres feed at the trough, power grabs to break local government coalitions, and to top it all stealing every iota of hope for a better life for all South Africans, make the governing party a prime candidate for Grinch of the Year.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Moegoe of the Year

Those whose behaviour perhaps falls short of “villain of the year”, but have in some way acted idiotically


John Steenhuisen for his ex-wife/roadkill comment
Mr Steenhuisen was certainly not the first to make a tasteless joke about an ex, nor was he the first guest to embarrass themselves on MacG’s podcast. Still, to decide to participate in a podcast that has long been accused of being a platform for misogyny, sexism and transphobia, while being a leader of the country’s main opposition party, and then once there to happily contribute to the platform’s already large canon of offensive statements by calling his ex-wife roadkill and flat chicken, makes him a strong contender for Moegoe of the Year.

Malesela Teffo for his “legal antics” during the Senzo Meyiwa trial.
From telling the court that “the situation is f*cked up”, to accusing a judge of practising witchcraft and accusing the Presidency of intimidating him, sans proof, this moegoe’s actions led the Pretoria High Court to order that he be removed from the roll of legal practitioners and that he surrender his certificate of enrolment as a legal practitioner to the court.

Carl Niehaus (Lifetime Achievement Award)
Carl Niehaus, the man, the legend! Nary a year goes by during which Mr Niehaus does not attempt to outmoegoe all moegoes that have ever existed since the dawn of Moegoedom! This year, please let us give the man his flowers while he can still smell them. Let us hand him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the moegoe arts. Among his many achievements this year, keep in mind his one-man protest march against President Cyril Ramaphosa, in the rain outside Nasrec. Seemingly, no amount of anti-Ramaphosa sentiment, even with the Phala Phala saga, was enough to convince his ANC and MKMVA comrades to brave the rain and join this legendary moegoe.

Former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng
In September this year, Mogoeng let the nation into his confidence, and shared news of prophecies about his presidential future: “So many prophecies, even today at the hotel where I was, one lady was crying tears saying, ‘Sir, I had a dream of you as president’. You don’t know how many messages I receive in one month, even from New York, saying we saw you being sworn in as president.”

In October, the religious-leaning All-African Alliance Movement officially announced Mogoeng Mogoeng as its presidential candidate. Well, the Lord does work in mysterious ways, and considering our track record in recent times, maybe President Moegoe Moegoe and elections by prophecy are not as far out as we might have thought back in 1994.

Louis Liebenberg
In the immortal words of Shirley Bassey, “wheeeeeeere do i begin?” Marianne Thamm said it best: Zulu patriarch and former president of the Republic Jacob Zuma, and Afrikaner “businessman” Louis Liebenberg have found common grifting ground between keeping out of a jail cell and establishing a Boer homeland.”

Cast your vote below or click here.

Our Burning Planet Environmental Hero of the Year

The green warriors fighting for our planet’s survival


Mandy Rambharos
Before leaving her job at Eskom this year, after 24 years, for a global job at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, DC, Rambharos, a tenacious climate warrior, had one more trick up her sleeve. She oversaw the conversion of the Komati Power Station, which had reached the end of its life, to a renewable plant with 150MW solar PV, 70MW of wind, and 150MW of battery storage.

The activists who managed to stop gas exploration along the Wild Coast and the West Coast and their legal teams who worked for free.
A David-and-Goliath scenario played out earlier this year when the Makhanda High Court set aside a decision by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to grant an exploration right to Shell to conduct seismic surveys off the Wild Coast. The case to stop the process was brought by Sustaining the Wild Coast NPC, local communities and small-scale fishers and All Rise, Attorneys for Climate and the Environment NPC, represented by the Legal Resources Centre and Richard Spoor Attorneys.

Daniel Mminele
As Head of the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team, it is Mminele’s job to lead the effort towards just energy transition and raise the money for it. The plan, which was presented at COP27, won the endorsement of the International Partners Group of France, Germany, the UK, the US and the EU, and will be implemented over the next five years.

Anneli Kamfer
Kamfer, a performer from the Western Cape town of Swellendam, powerfully urged us to take the climate crisis and the breaking down of the global social fibre seriously, when she lent her voice to the Daily Maverick remake of the 1965 PF Sloan classic, Eve of Destruction.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Our Burning Planet Destroyer of the Year

Those individuals and entities which have succeeded in further destroying our environment this year.


Gwede Mantashe
What more is there to be said about Daddy Coal? Has any other “public servant” fought harder for the interests of fuel companies and coal industries?

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda
The mayor failed to enforce water and environmental conservation laws in dealing with extensive sewage spills along the coastline.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Sports Team of the Year

A team that has stood out from the rest in 2022 either on or off the field of play.


Banyana Banyana, for winning the WAFCON soccer tournament.

Real Madrid, La Liga and Champions League winners.

Red Bull Racing, for dominating F1 with the constructors’ title and taking Max Verstappen to the title.

The Stormers, for winning the United Rugby Championship.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Sportsperson of the Year

A sportsperson whose positive impact has been felt either on or off the field of play.


Desiree Ellis, the Banyana Banyana coach who guided the team to 2022 Wafcon glory.

Max Verstappen, for dominating F1 and winning a record number of GPs in a season, breaking the record held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

Iga Świątek, for winning two Grand Slam titles and a record 37-match winning streak during the year.

Cast your vote below or click here.

Please feel free to let us know your choices by close of business on Tuesday, 6 December, 2022.

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