Mthethwa was king of the palookas

The long-awaited game of musical chairs finally played out this week. For months there had been a clamour for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reshuffle his cabinet and chop the deadwood.

We now has a minister of electricity, an irony in a country with power deficit. Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is the unlucky guy tasked with keeping the lights on.

Good luck to him as he scrambles around to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Some pundits are predictably disappointed that the president kept some pensioners in his executive, while others hailed the changes.

I would like to zero in on a ministry that many don’t deem relevant to our economic development: sports, arts and culture.

Many performing artists celebrated the booting out of the Minister of Condolences, as the axed Nathi Mthethwa came to be known. There are many useless ministers in government, such as Gwede Mantashe, Pravin Gordhan and Bheki Cele, but Mthethwa takes the cake.

The condolences moniker came about because his department was adept at releasing a media statement every time an artist passed on. Mthethwa was deaf to the cries of destitution and desperation from many suffering artists, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. When monies were set aside to alleviate the plight of artists who could not earn a living during the pandemic, Mthethwa was lost at sea.

I consider sports, arts and culture as a fun ministry and crucial to social cohesion.

Instead of attending to making the nation feel good and increasing our happiness index, this palooka was busy playing politics and missing the boat. For instance, he dreamt up the idea of an expensive national flag that would be seen from the stratosphere when many people were struggling to meet their basic needs.

Many museums are lying fallow after the many lockdowns that blocked visitors and patrons.

These include the iconic and world heritage Robben Island, Eyethu Cinema in Soweto, the Rivonia Museum and the non-existent Winnie Madikizela-Mandela museum in Brandfort, Free State.

Mthethwa, whose previous stint as safety and security minister was similarly forgettable, barely lifted a finger as our cultural monuments were neglected.

Poets, musicians, painters, athletes and anthropologists suffered greatly during this man’s tenure.

Many entertainers, like media personality Bonang Matheba, took to Twitter to express their disdain and frustration at the minister, but he remained unmoved.

Fikile Mbalula at least had chutzpah and joie de vivre and would ratlle cages and call a spade a spade, like when he called Bafana Bafana a bunch of losers. Mthethwa immersed himself in the politics of sports bodies such as SASCOC and Cricket SA because he felt at home playing boardroom games.

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