Most powerful South Africans

Foreign Policy magazine has listed the 500 most powerful people in the world, and 8 South Africans – including President Jacob Zuma and DA leader, Helen Zille – made the cut.

The list – called the FP “Power Map” is a compilation of the top 500 people in the world who rule various fields and industries – from politics and high finance, to media, energy, warfare and religion.

The list is domiated by men and women from the USA, with the magazine noting that “Americans are still No. 1 in pretty much everything that matters. For now.”

Among the notable people listed are US politicians Barack Obama (US President), Joe Biden (US Vice President) and Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York) – and on the other side of the coin, personalities such as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO), Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) and Tim Cook (Apple CEO).

Of the 500 listed people, 8 South Africans made the list – 9 if you include BHP Billiton CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, who is listed as South African, but is actually Scottish.

Here are the listed South African men and women:

Name Position Country Category
Siyabonga Cwele State security minister South Africa Force
Cobus de Swardt Transparency International managing director South Africa Good
Ivan Glasenberg Glencore CEO South Africa Money
Pravin Gordhan Finance minister South Africa Money
Andrew Mackenzie* BHP Billiton CEO South Africa Money
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Foreign minister South Africa Politics
Navi Pillay U.N. high commissioner for human rights South Africa Good
Helen Zille Democratic Alliance leader South Africa Politics
Jacob Zuma President South Africa Politics

* Not South African but listed as such

Foreign Policy distinguishes what each listed person is most notable for, splitting them into categories: force, money, politics, bully pulpit, brains, good and evil.


“Where possible, we took a ‘list of lists’ approach, consulting the authoritative rankings for a given industry and substituting judgment where quantitative assessments do not exist,” the magazine said.

Among the sources used for the list, Foreign Policy noted that it looked at sources from Forbes, Fortune, Global Journal, Institute of Media and Communications, SIPRI, Times,Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

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Most powerful South Africans