Kaunda Selisho

By Kaunda Selisho


The funniest nicknames in SA politics

A look at the history behind nicknames like Cupcake, Mpandloms and The People's Bae.

One of the greatest things to come out of South Africa’s inherently political history is the nation’s ability to combine humour with politics (and any other topic for that matter).

One of the ways this manifests is through the many nicknames given to the country’s political figures by the public and their fellow politicians.

Check out the funniest and most memorable nicknames in South African politics.

Jacob Zuma – uBaba ka Duduzane, Butternut, Msholozi

The first nickname was used in parliament by the EFF’s CIC Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, and it spread like wildfire. The phrase even inspired a gqom song titled ‘uBaba ka Duduzane.’

The creator of the song is a Wits University medical student named Thabo “Tboy Daflame” Moagi and he insists he was not trying to make a political statement with the song, it was just his way of engaging the topic. He created it by dubbing the audio from parliament over a gqom beat and playing the phrase in a loop.


The Butternut nickname is in reference to the shape of his head and “Msholozi” translates to “number one.”

Cyril Ramaphosa – Silili, Cupcake

Silili is merely a play on his first name while Cupcake is what he reportedly called the young women he allegedly had extramarital affairs with. The nation seemed to find that amusing enough and have since decided to use the nickname on the president.

Julius Malema – Juju

The etymology of this particular nickname is unclear but is simply a shorter version of the first syllable in his name.

Malusi Gigaba – Gigabyte, Mpandloms

The nickname Gigabyte actually comes from his wife’s initial Instagram handle ‘Mrs. Gigabyte.’ Norma Gigaba stated that this is a play on the fact that she is an IT professional and its similarity to her husband’s nickname is merely coincidental.

Mpandloms on the other hand, is what Gigaba’s former mistress Buhle Mkhize called him during her infamous 2017 Twitter rant. Mpandloms is similar to the Zulu word “mpandla” which refers to a balding head.

She also dropped a few other nicknames for the minister and his wife during her rant.

Nhlanhla Nene – Mr Decline

Nene’s nickname is the most recent of the bunch and is directly linked to the recent drama surrounding the minister as a result of his testimony at the Zondo Commission.

Andile Mngxitama – Mnguptama

This combination of Mngxitama and Gupta is self-explanatory.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi – The People’s Bae

Ndlozi has a significant number of fans who find him handsome and so they nicknamed him “The People’s Bae” after he found his way into the hearts of many.

Collen Maine  – The Oros Man

Although “Oros” has been Maine’s nickname for a while, the EFF revived it when they called him “The Oros Man” during one of their many criticisms of his tenure at the ANC Youth League.

Helen Zille – ‘The Donald Trump Of SA Twitter’, Godzille

Godzille is such an old nickname that we were unable to trace its origins but it is so common that cartoonist Zapiro often characterised Zille in this way in a number of his cartoons. She even ended up taking a liking to the nickname.

Her controversial tweets about colonialism got her crowned “The Donald Trump Of SA Twitter” early last year.

Floyd Shivambu – Mayweather

The EFF leader got this nickname earlier this year after getting into a physical altercation with a journalist. Shivambu and the popular boxer also share the same first name.

Honourable mention: Fikile Mbalula

He has been called many things; Razzmatazz, Mbaweezy, Mbaks, Fiks, Mr. Fearfokkol, The Minister of Twitter, but perhaps it’s time to look into adding “Minister of Nicknames” to the list.

Honourable mention: Weekend Special

After Des van Rooyen was removed as finance minister in 2015 after serving for just four days, it was inevitable he’d get this nickname.

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