Despite receiving many backlashes and opposition from a handful of political parties, the South African Politician Awards finally held, as earlier announced, on the eve of the State Address.
The event, which was organized by a company called Jozi Media, held at Cape Town’s Cape Sun Hotel on Wednesday night. Politicians were nominated to different categories including the Parliamentarian of the Year, Best Dressed Politician, Woman in Politics and Best Political Party category.
The Best Political Party category, according to the organizer’s website, will go to the party able to control and influence public policy. The said political party must have also played an intermediary role, linking the institutions of government to economic, ethnic, cultural, religious and other societal groups. For the Politician of the Year category, the winner will have demonstrated the biggest contribution to the political process in South Africa throughout the year.
A panel of balanced judges was put together to determine the winners. It is, however, not clear who these “balanced judges” are.
The organizers said the event was intended to remedy the country’s political challenges. The Project director for the awards, Veronica Modiele, said the event will “rebuild the image of politics in South Africa, and give politics a good name.”
The optimism and faith put in the event did not pay off as largely expected as the event centre was marked with a dismal turnout and several empty tables. However, lovely tunes emanated from the plush hall stage and the presence of invited political bigwigs warmed the heart of guests and residents living nearby.
Organisers of the SA Politician Awards admitted that the late withdrawal of the African National Members (ANC) really contributed to the low turnout at the SA Politician Awards. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members were the first to pull out of the event, stating that politicians are public servants and not celebrities.
“Politicians are not celebrities. Awards must be given to someone who brings a special talent. This is all about personal glorification‚” EFF’s leader Malema said.
The move was taken by the African National Congress (ANC) afterwards. The ruling party in a statement urged its members to shun the frivolous event.
Ironically, despite the ANC barring its members from making an appearance at the event, ANC Limpopo chairperson and Premier Stan Mathabatha ended up popping up around the event table with his political rivals.
However, the event went down smoothly and at the end, some politicians got publicly recognized for their contributions in the country.
The Winners of the SA Politicians Awards
Political Party of the Year: Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
Best Parliamentarian of The Year: United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader, Bantu Holomisa
Premier of the Year: Premier Stan Mathabatha
Politician of The Year: United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader, Bantu Holomisa
Best Political Analyst of The Year: Analyst Somadoda Fikeni
Lifetime Achievement Award: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The ANC veteran received the award in absentia.
It is pertinent to note that this is the first political award ceremony aimed at celebrating the work of politicians across the country.
According to an information released on the website of the SA Politician Awards, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was awarded the best political party of the year because the Mangosuthu Buthelezi-led party “controlled and influenced public policy and was also able to play intermediary role, linking the institutions of government to economic, ethnic, cultural, religious and other societal groups.”
Analyst Somadoda Fikeni is now ahead of his equals, which include Mcebisi Ndletyana, Aubrey Matshiqi and Steven Friedman.
UDM leader Bantu was apparently the biggest winner at the disbenefit of DA’s John Steenhuisen‚ Cope’s Terror Lekota and the ANC’s Buti Manamela, who were nominated alongside with him.
Some ANC heavyweights were nominated for various awards including President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet ministers, Malusi Gigaba and Lindiwe Zulu.
Despite Zuma being considered as the Politician of the Year, the embattled president, alongside Gigaba and Zulu didn’t show up at the event. Perhaps, they were busy putting things in place for February 9, State of the Nations Address (SONA).