Political Newsmakers of 2020

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 Political newsmakers of 2020
Political newsmakers of 2020


Google SA's serach results have shown that American president-elect Joe Biden was the most searched political figure, alongside his deputy Kamala Harris. They were able to dethrone Donald Trump in a historic election that took place last month. Other politicians who interested South Africans include North Korean President Kim Jong-un and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On the other hand, South African politicians who were the most searched are members of the ANC, especially ministers at the forefront of implementing government's fight against Covid-19. 

Here are some of the political newsmakers of 2020


The minister of basic education has had a tough year having had to ensure that schools were able to operate during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The department had to establish ways in which pupils could continue their education without putting them at risk of contracting the deadly virus.

As if things were not tricky enough already, the department was last week taken to court following Motshekga’s decision that matriculants should rewrite two leaked exam papers.

The Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of AfriForum, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union and other applicants, and her decision was declared invalid.


The ANC’s secretary-general was in the news for all the wrong reasons this year.

Magashule made headlines after his sons and close allies were allegedly found to have benefited from Covid-19-related personal protective equipment tenders in the Free State. His sons, Tshepiso and Thato, were able to clinch deals worth a total of R2.7 million, which raised eyebrows among South Africans.

ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule appears at Bloemfontein Magistrate Court on November 13, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. According to media reports, Magashule faces corruption charges related to the R255 million Free State asbestos project. Picture by Gallo Images/Frikkie Kapp

Magashule has also recently been in the media for his alleged involvement in the multimillion-rand asbestos scandal in the Free State, for which he has been charged.

He has also appeared before the party’s integrity commission, which recommended that he step aside. Magashule is getting ready to challenge this. He is now shaping up to be the de facto leader of the faction that opposes President Cyril Ramaphosa in the party.


With the Covid-29 pandemic being in the spotlight, ministers were expected to continually update citizens about how their respective portfolios were going to deal with the deadly virus.

Being the minister of communications, Ndabeni- Abrahams was no exception, and she had to put her best foot forward. However, this was not the reason she made headlines.

Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams reacts after being sworn-in following a cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings on November 22, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. The changes have been as a result of the passing of Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and the resignation of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe

The minister made the most waves when she was suspended for two months for violating lockdown regulations. A social media furore broke out when a picture surfaced of her visiting former ANC MP Mduduzi Manana when South Africans had been told to stay at home. She had to pay a R1 000 fine for contravening the Disaster Management Act and issue a public apology.

She was also deeply immersed in the battle about the future of the SABC and the SA Post Office.


This year, the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs took centre stage for her insistence on banning tobacco products. She refused to listen to the issue of how the ban had not stopped smokers from smoking, but instead created a thriving contraband industry.

Various groups took government to court to have the ban lifted, but eventually the regulations on the sale of tobacco products were eased.

Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Picture: by Gallo Images/Laird Forbes)

A song was even composed in which her famous “when people zol, they put saliva on the paper” line was quoted – in the midst of the anger, South Africans managed to still have a laugh about the situation. There have since been many TikTok videos emulating her.


The ANC’s former Nelson Mandela Bay councillor was sentenced to two years in prison for hitting DA councillor Rano Kayser in the head with a glass jug during a brawl in the council chambers in 2016. In September, he lost his bid to appeal and had to hand himself over the North End Prison in Port Elizabeth.

The ANC Youth League President, Andile Lungisa Picture:Liza van Deventer

However, Lungisa is already out on parole and his community corrections sentence has been reduced by 12 months. Spokesperson for the department of correctional services Singabakho Nxumalo said Lungisa was released because he had been classified as a first-time offender with a positive support system.

Lungisa is said to have responded positively to rehabilitation programmes that led to his parole in line with section 73(7)(a) of the Correctional Services Act. However, Lungisa has decided to present himself as if being in jail for two months qualifies him as a political prisoner.


The minister of police is probably one of the most hated politicians of the year, especially among those who enjoy their booze. South Africans had to endure a nationwide hard lockdown without any alcohol, and Cele did not hide his thoughts about the matter.

Minister of Police General Bheki Cele delivers quarterly crime statistics on November 13, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa. It is reported that the Minister presented statistics reflecting crimes that occurred from 1st of July to end of September 2020. Picture: Gallo Images/Laird Forbes

The minister continually expressed his hate for liquor and even went as far as telling City Press in an interview that he would not mind if alcohol was completely banned forever. Many felt that he displayed excessive zeal regarding alcohol, which he did not show when fighting real crime.

He said that alcohol could be blamed for the high crime rate and added that trauma wards at hospitals had seen fewer cases since alcohol was banned.

Eventually, the ban on alcohol was lifted and South Africans have since been easy on the minister.


Queenin Masuabi 

Political Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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The EFF has sent a legal letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, demanding that the lockdown regulations be relaxed to allow political gatherings in compliance with all Covid-19 protocols. The party said that regulations prohibit political campaigning and activities in preparation for this year’s local government elections.
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