I enjoy Fikile Mbalula. I really do. Most people, myself included, have a process where thoughts are created, filtered, re-filtered, watered down and then finally expressed verbally. I admire the ability of certain people, like the honourable minister, to just say whatever is on their mind openly and frankly without worrying about potential ramifications and consequences. It is said that the saying “shooting from the hip” was coined when Mr Mbalula was born.
South Africa’s Minister of Sports & Recreation is a well-known figure in the country. The reason he is well-known is because it is extremely difficult to avoid his presence anywhere you turn. The reason he is well-known is because you cannot avoid him.
Do you have a press conference on? Fikile Mbalula will be there in a flash with an unscripted and unforgettable quote!
“Some condescending people say I don’t know rugby. You don’t need to own a shebeen to drink alcohol!”
Do you have an Instagram account? Bra Fiks will be there posing at a table with his arm around Floyd “Money” Mayweather!
Do you have a Twitter account? Razzmatazz will be there dropping jokes (or blocking you if you have the temerity to question or challenge him)!
Thursday 5 November 2015 provided an opportunity for Mr Mbalula to do what he does best – open his mouth to talk, at considerable length, about a variety of issues.
Mr Mbalula’s soliloquy included his views on the Springboks’ performance at the recently ended Rugby World Cup.
“People say why don’t I say # are a bunch of losers like Bafana. That’s a populist frivolous statement”
His statistical analysis:
“Over 89 percent of the country agree that the # did well. Its only a few people that think otherwise”
The majority of his comments, though, were related to the contentious issue of transformation (or the lack thereof) in South African rugby.
“Some people with cynical agendas do not want to recognise what we have done regarding # so far”
“When I was talking # with SARU you journalists were busy with FIFA and didn’t notice, where were you!”
“Some of you only talk # when there’s a World Cup”
The comments that garnered the most responses on Twitter were where the Minister took shots at Robert Marawa, host of MetroFM’s extremely popular 083@6 sports show. Mr Mbalula stated that Mr Marawa was “abusing his platform” and that he (Marawa) has “become a proponent that attacks us”. Many of Mr Marawa’s listeners were quick to respond with and the #mbalulamustfall and #handoffmarawa hashtags circulating during the press conference.
Mbalula’s comments were apparently in response to a discussion on various rugby related issued that had occurred between Marawa and his panel of rugby guests Lawrence Sephaka, Kaunda Ntunja and Thando Manana, popularly known as the “Room Dividers”. The Room Dividers discussed the transformation issue in South African rugby and allegedly called out Mr Mbalula for not attending the discussion to answer questions.
As noted, Mr Mbalula is certainly one of the most entertaining and accessible government ministers but here’s hoping that he dedicates the same level of enthusiasm to sorting out the myriad of South African sporting problems as he did to #fillingupthedome.