Brad Cibane
Brad Cibane

South African mediocrity vs Mbalula’s hypocrisy

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, the “Razzmatazz” himself, has caused a furore by going off like a dirty bomb at Bafana Bafana.

“The two-legged Goats” — as I call them — were brutally booted out of the African Nations Championship (Chan) by the Super Eagles of Naija. This is maybe the gazillionth time that the Goats* have chocked in the first leg of a championship they are hosting. Bathong!

Mbalula was livid and he held no punches; none I tell you. He called the team “a bunch of losers” and “unbearable, useless individuals [sic]”. He took a more personalised swipe at deputy goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs — asking whether Josephs had made his community and mother proud. Cold!

The public is divided over Mbalula’s comments. The Democratic Alliance called his comments “utterly disgraceful”. Others like DA-spindoctor-turned-journalist Gareth van Onselen took the fight to Mbalula himself, calling him a “petty, opportunist and hypocritical man”.

Others took the opposite view. To them, Mbalula’s comments were a welcome ailment to soothe years of repeated emotional and psychological abuse by Bafana.

In response to a tweet that a psychologist was saying Josephs may need “professional help” after Mbalula’s verbal-backhand, someone responded that the “fans too needed professional help after being abused repeatedly by Bafana”.

Mbalula’s comments, although not surprising, are still atypical. Politics of diplomacy — or “political correctness”, as we call it — have become a norm in South Africa. Honesty is a bitter medicine, and nobody wants that.

There is, however, a more profound point to all this. Why would South Africans who moan persistently about Bafana suddenly come to their rescue? Are we so resistant to mediocrity?

South Africans are like a frog in slow-boiling water: we will stick around stubbornly until we cook.

Even more profound is Mbalula’s hypocrisy. Mbalula is himself not a model of stellar leadership. No! Not by any standard. Mbalula is like that teacher who shouts constantly and humiliates you in class, just for the heck of it.

It is no secret that soccer (in South Africa) is poorly managed and suffers from poor investment. Soccer bosses are generally like the mafia, living from hand to mouth. Youngsters are not developed and talent is scouted raw from the streets of townships.

Unlike cricket or rugby, soccer players generally come from playing in dusty streets of debilitated settlements. Even when they reach professional teams, they are simply told to perform without being offered vigorous development.

Players like Itumeleng Khune (South Africa’s star goalkeeper) are an exception. Khune enjoyed development at Kaizer Chiefs at a very young age. We have seen the fruits of that development.

So to the “Razzmatazz”, here is some advice from an astute citizen, Curtis Jackson: “Do not throw stones if you live in a glass house, and if you have a glass jaw, you better watch your mouth!”

*The term “Goats” is generally used (in jest) to refer to people who are bad at sports. This is not intended to cause offence, and please do not report me to the Human Rights Commission.

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