South Africa

Another sports minister without a sporting background

2017-04-03 14:34
Thembelani Nxesi (

Cape Town - The dictionary describes razzmatazz as a rowdy frolic or spree - and, on this score, it would seem totally appropriate that Fikile Mbalula became widely known as Mr Razzmatazz during his six-year, now terminated tenure as Minister of Sport and Recreation.

Less clear, however, regarding Mbalula's switch to the Minister of Police post and his replacement as Minister of Sport and Recreation by a contrastingly less publicity-seeking Thembelani Nxesi, is the fact that the new incumbent like his predecessor takes over without any meaningful sporting background.

Nxesi is an educationist of no mean stature and experience, having acted as secretary-general of the South African Democratic Teachers Union for more than a decade, as well as serving as Minister of Public Works and Deputy Minister of Rural Development in his time in the cabinet.

But it would be nice to have someone taking over as Minister of Sport and Recreation whose CV and credentials include something relating to sporting qualifications and/or experience.

Not that this seemed to bother Mr Razzmatazz, who charged headlong into handling sports affairs like a bull in a china shop, while transforming his department in his own frolicking image.

Mbalula spent regally in introducing various innovations, not always in the right direction, with misgivings that in a country of a good deal of poverty existing, government  money could have been better used in other directions.

And Mr Razzmatazz never failed to make his often controversial views known either, like referring to Bafana as a "bunch of losers", but lauding winners to the heavens.

Nxesi, from all accounts, is a different kettle of fish and the sports department is likely to function on a contrastingly more low-key basis from now on - both in policy-making and in introducing grandiose innovations.

But it is worth noting that even with the more vital and shock ministerial changes over the past week rightfully dominating attention and concern, Mr Razzmatazz has wasted little time in making his presence felt as Minister of Police as well.

He proclaimed in a characteristic tweet that "criminals are the real bunch of miserables losers" - providing an impression that their days were now numbered with him handling law and order and calling the tune.

Read more on:    thembelani nxesi  |  fikile mbalula  |  rugby


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