Top Leaders of the Eastern Cape in 2014


One of the world’s most iconic leaders, the late Nelson Mandela, was born and educated in the Eastern Cape and he loved his birthplace so much, that despite his international credentials, he had his family home in the hamlet of Qunu - deep in the heartland of the Eastern Cape, which he visited as often as possible and it was in this same place that he chose to be buried too.

Finding a concise definition of a leader is almost as hard as finding another leader of Mr Mandela’s calibre. Every dictionary, business manual, political manifesto or recognised leadership mentor, has a different definition.

In selecting our leaders, we have, firstly, only focused on people who call the Eastern Cape home. Secondly, these leaders need to have done something significant and positive for, primarily, this region but also, nationally or internationally.

They need to stand out amongst their peers and have achieved something that nobody else has done. Thirdly and finally, they need to have achieved something of significance in 2014.

No doubt there are many more leaders in the Eastern Cape than the ones we have on the list below. In other 2014 editions of Business Link we have written about a number of highly successful businessmen, entrepreneurs and politicians – Sakhumzi Somyo, Bryan Dowley, Kevin Kelly, and Thandiswa Marawu to name but a few, but they do not fit the definition we have chosen for this article.

Others, including the Stormer’s coach, Allister Coetzee, who is from Grahamstown and who coached his team to win the 2014 Currie Cup, and  Pam Golding, who was born and educated in Port Elizabeth and who has taken her company world-wide, are stand out examples of leaders, but both now reside in the Western Cape and so do not qualify.

It is no easy matter to make a subjective decision (an objective decision being impossible) on who should be the top leader or who is more of a leader than the other. However, each of the people on our list, has shown one or more outstanding leadership qualities in 2014 but, more than that, leadership is in their blood and has been for a long time. 

All five of them can claim to be activists, four political and one environmental, and all of them clearly enjoy what they do. More importantly, they love the Eastern Cape and are proud to call it home. 


1. Adrian Gardiner

(Main Picture) 

2014 Achievement

Mr Gardiner has done more for the Eastern Cape than most people. It was thanks to his vision, skill and determination in founding the first Big Five Private Game Reserve, Shamwari, that our province has a significant tourism industry - an industry that generates many millions of Rands each year and that employs a substantial percentage of our workforce.

Perhaps more importantly, his business model has made conservation in the Eastern Cape a profitable industry and thus, ensuring that our animals and ecosystems are sustainable.

In 2014, Mr Gardiner achieved much but, it is for his efforts to save our rhino that we recognise him in this article. Not only has he helped raise millions of Rands for rhino conservation projects but, he has done so in an educational, informative and very creative manner.

As chairman of both Mantis and the Wilderness Foundation, he has assisted in converting Thu Minh, the biggest pop star in Vietnam, into an ally in the fight against the illegal rhino horn trade which has, as its biggest consumer, Vietnam.

Thu Minh was given an authentic wildlife experience with rhino in the wild, to educate her on the rhino poaching issue and she has since returned to Vietnam to very effectively campaign against the smuggling of and use of rhino horns in traditional medicines.

Mantis together with the Wilderness Foundation, have raised millions of Rands through their Hotel Rhino concept. Guests staying at one of Mantis’ many five star boutique hotels will find a rhino toy on their pillow with a note attached from the rhino who introduces himself and asks the guests to please help him save his family from extinction. They can assist by buying the Rhino Toy when they check out of the hotel.

Thanks to Mr Gardiner’s audacious personality, he has persuaded the owners of the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront and the Brisbane Wheel to donate a portion of their takings to the Wilderness Foundation. So too has he brokered an agreement with SeaWorld in the USA to work closely with the Wilderness Foundation on rhino conservation and in this manner not only raised funds but educated millions of people.


Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Mr Gardiner moved to Port Elizabeth in the ‘70s where he fell in love with the city and the surrounding countryside. Despite his hectic international schedule, Mr Gardiner, who holds a B.Com degree from UCT, still has his home in PE.

In 1990, he bought a 1 200 hectare farm 70 km outside of PE as a family retreat. The farmland was completely abused and degraded and the area was suffering from a severe drought. Other farms in the area were overgrazed and full of exotic plant species and many of the farms were owned by absentee farmers who only employed a few herdsman.

However, not long after this, Mr Gardiner met Ian Player, one of the world’s most respected conservationists who motivated him to put back what man had successfully removed. Ian also encouraged him to keep expanding his private game reserve.

Being a natural entrepreneur, Mr Gardiner identified a niche in the market for a private, luxury game reserve that offered the Big Five in the Eastern Cape. Of great importance to his dream was that the Eastern Cape was malaria-free. This was a key selling point if you consider that, at that time, almost every other Big Five experience, luxury or other, was located in a malaria-infested area which involved a certain amount of risk and discomfort for tourists visiting these areas.

Converting this idea into reality was no mean feat - opposition was huge. The local farming community where proud that they had shot out all the big predators and where determined to ensure that they would never return.

There were no laws or regulations for owning lions and no permits either. Fencing was another substantial problem. Mr Gardiner, through sheer determination, persevered and eventually his dream came to life and Shamwari Private Game Reserve was born.

It is no exaggeration to say Mr Gardiner can be credited with placing the Eastern Cape on the global tourism map. Despite the Eastern Cape being a beautiful province, it had no “must see attraction” such as Table Mountain or the Eiffel Tower or the Great Barrier Reef. But now it did – Malaria Free Big Five Game Viewing. 

Where Mr Gardiner led, others followed and more and more private game reserves opened in the region, more land was rehabilitated and more animals introduced. Conservation became not only an interest of the intellectual few but also of entrepreneurs, investors and, of course the thousands of money spending visitors to the region.

Mr Gardiner has gifts other than perseverance; he has an uncanny marketing skill and an ability to exceed the expectations of his clients. It is no surprise then that this winning formula has created a substantial tourism empire, Mantis, which spans seven continents, yes, including Antarctica. 

Today Mr Gardiner is Chairman of Mantis, his entrepreneurial arm, the Wilderness Foundation, his conservation arm and Stenden South Africa, his training arm.

If it sounds like Mr Gardiner has the dexterity of an octopus consider that he also sits on numerous other boards and is involved in numerous conservation initiatives, then you will realise that this man is more than ambidextrous.

2. Daniel “Cheeky” Watson

2014 Achievement

Mr Watson has no fear - in fact, he probably works best in the face of adversity, and it is this outstanding quality that has allowed him to do so much for rugby in the Eastern Cape.

As a young man living in Port Elizabeth, he flouted the ridiculous sports segregation laws of Apartheid which, today, has made it possible for him to be elected as President of Eastern Province Rugby Union, a Union that has been, until recently, plagued with race-related conflict.

In 2014, Mr Watson was re-elected as the President of Eastern Province (EP) Rugby, a testament to his leadership skills. However, the primary reason why he finds himself in second place on our list is because he, in his capacity as President, was instrumental in placing EP Rugby back in the Currie Cup in 2014. 

The Currie Cup is one of the country’s most prestigious sporting events and the financial benefits and the prestige it brings the Eastern Cape has been significant.


Mr Watson grew up on a farm near Somerset East and attended Graeme College boarding school in Grahamstown, where he began playing union rugby. It was here that his long association with rugby began.

As a 21-year old, Mr Watson played for the Eastern Province team which lost by 28 points to 13 to the visiting All Blacks in 1976. In that same year, he was selected to play for the Junior Springboks and also participated in the trials for the senior Springbok team.

It was at this time that Mr Watson became involved in the KwaZakhele Rugby Union (Kwaru) where he both coached and played. He was heavily criticised by local authorities and by the white rugby clubs of the time.

By 1978, the Watson family had been drawn into the anti-apartheid struggle, with dual membership in the then-banned African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party.

The Watsons were subsequently threatened, ostracised - and even shot at. Their home was burned down in 1986. Friends stopped visiting, either because they were being threatened by authorities, or because they disagreed with the Watsons’ political stance.

During this time of trial, Mr Watson proved his credentials - not only as a rugby player but, also as an anti-apartheid activist. This has served him well in later life, where, together with his administrative and negotiation skills, and particularly with his ability to conquer overwhelming odds, he was elected as President of the Eastern Province Rugby Union based in Port Elizabeth, which operates the Eastern Province Kings Currie Cup team.

Mr Watson is also the co-owner of the Southern Kings team which was launched in June 2009 and played in the Super Rugby tournament of 2013. 

 3Phumulo Masualle

2014 Achievement

Mr Masualle was appointed as Premier of the Eastern Cape after the national elections held earlier this year. Filling the most important political and economic position in the province did not automatically place Mr Masualle on this list but his mostly sound track-record and an impressive State of the Province Address (SOPA) did.

His position as Premier grants him an opportunity to resolve the almost overwhelming problems that confront the Eastern Cape today. Business Link wishes him success and hopes that he not only makes this list in 2015 but that he is so successful in resolving the issues that face this great province that he tops our list.


Mr Masualle was born in a small town called Mt Fletcher in the Eastern Cape. He then grew up in Mt Frere and later in Umthatha where he completed his matric at St Johns College.

He later went on to study for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and also has a Post?Graduate Diploma in Economic Principles.

We understand that Mr Masualle was widely criticised for his alleged involvement in the controversial manner in which public funds were handled in the financing of Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December last year. 

However, his first State of the Provence Address (SOPA) this year was well-received by opposition parties and the business community as it offered a realistic picture of our situation in the province and also outlined what his term in office would seek to achieve to solve some of the challenges that we are facing.

Mr Masualle is not only well-respected among his peers but it should be noted that the number of clean and unqualified audits that occurred in Eastern Cape government departments increased significantly while he was MEC for Finance.

Throughout his adult life, Mr Masualle has been involved in political organisations including the South African National Students Congress, Post Office and Telecommunications Workers Union, the ANC and the South African Communist Party.

He has worked in the Eastern Cape Provincial Administration at various levels prior to his elevation to being a Member of the Provincial Legislature. Mr Masualle has been a Member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature  since 1999 and has held the following positions; MEC for Roads and Public Works and MEC for Finance and Economic Development and also served in various Standing Committees in the Eastern Cape Legislature.

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, he was also elected to serve as National Chairperson of the Association of Public Account Committees (APAC).


 4. Daniel “Danny” Jordaan

2014 Achievement

At first glance, it would appear that we have done Mr Jordaan a disservice by placing him relatively low on our list as this is a man who has achieved an enormous amount, not only in 2014, but in the past two decades.

He is one of South Africa’s outstanding leaders and has done an enormous amount to place South Africa in the international limelight and deserves to be on or near the top of any list of South African leaders. 

However, in terms of our definition of leadership for this list, we are looking for somebody who has contributed primarily to the Eastern Cape and Mr Jordaan’s contributions have been mostly to the national and international community.

Mr Jordaan is a regular news-maker and 2014 has been no exception. We particularly applaud him for turning around the financial situation of the South African Football Association (SAFA).  At the SAFA 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM) earlier this year, Mr Jordan said that SAFA had a deficit of R46 million in 2013, and it was R56 million in the red two years ago but that 2014 would see a profit.

He had this to say at the AGM; “With the new sponsors having come on board, SAFA has posted a R10 million profit, which is expected to increase in the next few months after the acquisition of a new broadcast deal with Siyaya TV, which comes into effect early next year.”

As Vice President of the marketing Committee for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, he also assisted in making this one of the most successful world cups ever.


Daniel Alexander “Danny" Jordaan was born on the 3 September 1951 in Port Elizabeth and despite his national and international commitments currently still resides in this city.

He holds a BA from the University of the Western Cape and an Honours Degree from Wits. Mr Jordaan has also been awarded three honorary Doctorates from NMMU, UNISA and the University of the Western Cape.

Besides being the current president of SAFA, as well as a former lecturer, politician and anti-apartheid activist, he led South Africa's successful 2010 FIFA World Cup bid, the first successful one for Africa. He was also the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Mr Jordaan has served FIFA in numerous capacities, including, as a General Co-ordinator for the Youth World Cup (now FIFA U-20 World Cup), 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan.

He was also a match commissioner for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and a member of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee. He has served on the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Organising Committee.


5. Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana

2014 Achievement

Executive Mayor of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality (formally Cacadu District Municipality), Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana is one of those rare politicians who are determined to serve the people who voted them into office.

Ever since her election in 2011, she has become a very familiar face with the communities within her municipality and has often been praised for bringing her office closer to the people and for tackling their issues head on.

This year, Executive Mayor Kekana extended the Sarah Baartman District Municipality’s record of consecutive Unqualified Audits Opinions to seven – an unprecedented feat in the Eastern Cape, making her municipality one of the most well-run in South Africa.

Her achievements have not gone unnoticed and President Jacob Zuma even mentioned the success of the municipality as a model for other municipalities in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Again, Executive Mayor Kekana’s hard work and dedication to improving local government was rewarded in February of this year when she won the Eastern Cape Mayor of the Year award for the second time in a row at the 2014 VUNA Awards held in East London.

Not one to rest on her laurels, she is always pushing her municipality forward to realising her goal of attaining a Clean Audit Opinion in 2014 – a challenging task when one considers how many other municipalities are content with the financial mess in which the find themselves.


Graaff-Reinet born and bred, Executive Mayor Kekana is a qualified teacher by profession and started her teaching career at Isibane Primary and Inyameko Adult Center in the same area after graduating at Lovedale Training College in Alice.

Ms Kekana became the first female Executive Mayor of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality when she was elected to the position in 2011. Under her stewardship, the municipality extended its audit record to seven consecutive Unqualified Audit reports.

She said she got into politics following a “painful experiences” during the apartheid years when members of her family were detained and beaten for transgressing Apartheid laws.

In 2000, following the attainment of democracy, Executive Mayor Kekana was elected to serve as Ward 6 Councillor in the Camdeboo Local Municipality before she left in 2005 to join the then Cacadu District Municipality as a Portfolio Councillor for Infrastructure and Social Services. She was subsequently elected Executive Mayor.