The Forbes Africa Person of the Year (POY) Award is fast gaining popularity and prestige for honouring excellence in Africa. The fifth recipient of the accolade was announced in Kenya on Thursday evening.
It went to Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s former anti-corruption czar. Forbes wrote about Madonsela during the nomination, noting how she “faced death threats in her quest to bring inconsistencies to the fore.”
She beat two African presidents, a fellow South African and a country to emerge the winner for this year.
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli – known as the bulldozer, Ameenah Gurib, Mauritian president, South African businessman, Michiel le Roux, founder of Capitec Bank, and the people of Rwanda were nominated along with Madonsela.
The award in its 6th year opened nominations last month to allow people to vote from among the five nominees. Madonsela is the first South African to be named winner of the award. She joins a prestigious group of winners, an Emir, Africa’s richest man, two top bankers and top business mogul.
- 2011 winner – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the then Central Bank of Nigeria governor) now Muhammadu Sanusi II (Emir of Kano)
- 2012 winner – James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank, Kenya
- 2013 winner – Akinwumi Adesina, the then Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, now head of the African Development Bank.
- 2014 – Aliko Dangote, Chairman and CEO of the Dangote Group, Nigeria.
- 2015 – Mohammed Dewji, CEO of MeTL Group, Tanzania
- 2016 – Thuli Madonsela, former Public protector of the Republic of South Africa
Thuli Madonsela, left her post as South Africa’s Public Protector on October 14. She exited the post as the country’s most fearless anti corruption official till date.
Madonsela was appointed by president Jacob Zuma in 2009 for non renewable seven year tenure. But the president has been at the receiving end of her heroic investigations even till her last day in office.
It took a court ruling to block her from releasing her report into allegations that the wealthy Gupta family influenced the appointment of ministers last year in what has been dubbed “State of Capture”. Another court ordered the report to be released about two weeks ago by her successor.
She investigated and demanded the country’s embattled president pays back part of the 16 million US dollars of state funds used to upgrade his private residence.
And although she appears to have mastered the rough terrain of her job, the one thing she probably did not anticipate was to receive death threats for her work on the Nkandla scandal.