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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.



  1. michael michael 22 January 2014

    Allow rugby to take over the administration of soccer and you will see a huge improvement overnight.

  2. bernpm bernpm 22 January 2014

    “Sport” worldwide is aimed at competition either individual or in teams.
    The game is about winning, which includes loosing, if you want a winner. The only alternative is a “draw”, often a let down for the fans of both players or teams.

    Supporters of the loosing team usually turn into endless moaners, coach advisers, or any other kind of expert on game tactics. They express themselves in all manners as they feel fit. Part of the fun going to a game.

    Where I draw the line is when a highly placed person (a minister can be considered highly placed in any society even in SA) behaves like an ordinary backstreet supporter and goes public in an international meeting spouting all the negatives that come up in his mind. The negatives aimed at the team as a team as well as singling out an individual player.

    This foul language coming from the “Minister of Sport of the Republic of South Africa” on a public mike in an international sport event.

    Consider the events leading up to this game:
    1. Not all selected players by the coach were made available by their clubs.
    2. The chosen keeper was injured and was replaced for a stand-in

    conclusion? this was not the best team SA could put into the game.

    Was the Minister right in his outburst? Maybe in content of the message but certainly not in the way the message was brought, neither for the surrounding audience.

    With a Minister of Sport like this man, you might have difficulties in finding sports people who…

  3. bernpm bernpm 22 January 2014

    Contd: With a Minister of Sport like this man, you might have difficulties in finding sports people who ever want to represent the RSA in the future.

  4. aim for the culprits aim for the culprits 22 January 2014

    They are good players, Nigeria were just better. Reflect and improve, don’t smash, that is the stupid revolutionaries’ response. No good blowing up the potholed road, fix it.

  5. alexx zarr alexx zarr 23 January 2014

    Thanks Brad –
    What I found interesting is that Mbalula should rant at the national football team, but not government’s general incompetence. Surely, creating a better life for all, treating people with respect, protecting us from each other, and so on and so on…are all more important than having a successful sports team?
    Mbalula should be as annoyed with government’s lack of service delivery, corruption, inefficiency, etc

  6. Gary Smith Gary Smith 23 January 2014

    How about some of this vigorous honesty aimed at his co-ministers who don’t perform. They’ve been doing it for ages! Remember: as you judge others, so too will you be judged!

  7. Momma Cyndi Momma Cyndi 23 January 2014

    When Fikile first took over, he was making all the right noises. Now he seems far more interested in getting Beyonce to sing for him. It was a bit depressing to realise that he is nothing more than a typical politician – full of pie-crust promises.

  8. Robert Robert 23 January 2014

    The issue here, is who administers the scolding. If this attack was given by a more favored figure( Not to doubt Mr. Mbalulas standing) then the whole attack would have been accepted with no debate. I say thank you Mr Razzmataz for not hiding behind political correctness.

  9. Tofolux Tofolux 23 January 2014

    All this outrage reminds me of the “cucumber-sandwich” brigade so well known for its pretentious pomposity. Have we succumbed to being this fickle and feeble-minded and are we no longer allowed to express ourselves freely? I thought the DA and our very thoughtful thoughleaders declared themselves as ‘protectors’ of our Constitution? If this is the case, then how is it that they cannot put this declaration in action and show us how they go about their “defence” or is that declaration just another lie in a pretentious side-show that is so unbelievably consistent? That aside, the point is that the Minister has said and used the exact words that we do in our own frustration of this team. He has used the very words we use in the shebeens and the taverns. So what is the problem? Could it be that the DA and others do not frequent townships or poor areas and could it be that they are so far removed from the feelings and expressions of the ‘real’ soccer-loving fan in a township? The Minister is far too diplomatic with the truth. I would have used fancier expletives to describe their performance and lo and behold the Minister did not use one swear word. So what is all fuss and fake pomposity about? Gosh, if I should ever have a child must I now teach him to rely on sissy explanations for the truth. What non-sensical non-sense are we now being subjected to?

  10. bernpm bernpm 23 January 2014

    @Tofolux: Since you suggest that you have picked up your “vocabulaire” (choice of words) in shebeens and taverns I can understand your approval of this ministerial outburst.
    I do hope that one day your boss (if you have one, that is) will give you a similar shebeen treatment in the company of all your mates and family members.

    And if you yourself are the boss (and this minister IS the boss), I wonder if you would appreciate when your staff tell you in public and in their own shebeen language what they think of you.

    Ever heard of the saying “there is a place and time for expressing yourself”? This is a social rule in civilized company to avoid being perceived the same ( insert your favorite “shebeen expression”) you call the others.

    And thanks for the implicit compliment to the DA, considering them included in civilized company :-))

  11. Matoro Matoro 23 January 2014

    Man we Africans are coming off age. Welcome to the ‘open eye’ society and the order of ‘Agitator de Mierde’.. Those that have not passed through the door yet want to politicize everything from sport to religion to sex even the chromosomes of your bed-mates. Or is it perhaps a sort of Stalinist deification that is the bedrock of immature African-ism where everyone and everything pay homage to and worship the Big Man or the Big Thing?
    Comrade Mbalula’s salacious public outrage reminds of a child with inadequate potty training. The choking of Bafana (and cricket as well) must be laid squarely at the doors of the sport sponsors (a person can only hope that our beloved regime is not overly zealous in bankrolling Bafana to the determent of other more meritorious projects such as health care, adequate sport bodies) and the South African sport administrators. We need Rain Makers not Leopards.

  12. Diana Diana 24 January 2014

    Sean Covey once said: “is it not silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up”. This team is representing our “proud” nation internationally. Is this good enough. Do we wash our dirty laundry in the public or do we regroup look at management and leadership and start building on a team that makes us proud. The mere fact that they were allowed to play and represent South Africa in the state of preparedness they were in is surely not their decision.
    Wake up Bafana Management!

  13. Zeph Zeph 24 January 2014

    @Tofolux – yes, by all means, express yourself freely. But if you do that then at least address the true cause of the problem. SAFA is the problem. Where are the development bursaries for ‘soccer schools’? Where are the academies?
    What our minister has done is blamed the pilot for not flying even though he has no plane.

  14. Blaq Magiq Blaq Magiq 24 January 2014

    Hmmmmm, thats a mouthful Cibane.

    Now lets look at this in cotenxt and its entirety, then we can conclude if Mbalula was/is a hypocrit or not.

    Mbalula came in office and demanded reviews of SAFA process’. He has offered great support for development and many other SAFA projects. Last year he joined hands with Castle and they sent out scouts to look for talent, decentralise resources and groom talent. Mbalula has been supportive by policy and by word to Bafana. He is at almost every game and has given positive words to Bafana, even when they failed to achieve a group stages move in many tournaments, it was Mbalula who urged Bafana and the supporters not to loose hope.

    Now, the entire country agrees that Bafana is pap. we all agree that we deserve better , not because we think so but rahter because we KNOW we can do better. Mbalula, true to his nature said what we all wanted to say. He did what he usually does, opnly speak about his observations. Unlike Mac Maharaj who would sugar coat everything and spin it one way or the other, Mbalula was honest with us, but because we are so used to spin doctors we find himhis truth uncofortable

    Lastly, this notion that PSL bosses are mafias is unfounded, It is not true that there are no development structures in SA. may i suggest you go to Pimville to see Chiefs youth or go to Orlando or even Ajax trainig fields. the SA PSL has been said to be one of the best administered leagues in Africa. It is up there with the best in the…

  15. Blaq Magiq Blaq Magiq 24 January 2014

    …..The good thing about Mbalula is that he does not speak all these things in private or corridors, he says it with SAFA president sitting next to him. He says these things with the confidence that should SAFA require any help he will be willing and ready to offer, as he has done with CSA during their “IPL bonuses” dark cloud and beyond.

    Above Mbalula not being diplomatic, we should ask ourselves if there is any truth to what he said. Bafana players, admin and technical staff should take a step back and ponder on what Mbalula and million of us are saying on platforms such as these, on radio, social media or at shebeens.

    Are we proud of Bafana’s performance in the last decade? Have they represented the country well? They have the HPC, the reserve league some even play in top league in the world, but we still give mediocre performances…..WHY?
    SAFA recently changed administration, Kirsten out, Jordan in….promises made….Mbalula commited his office to support Bafana completely….its time they deliver. POlitics in this country leave most of us depressed, sport is one avenue that we can ALL find comfort….so…akusheshwe!!!

    NB- I dont use spell check by choice. Get over it!!
    tiwter : @blaqMagiqCom

  16. Matoro Matoro 25 January 2014

    @Blaq Magiq you are a man in the know with a level head. Minster Mbalula acting as if he is a Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich? Is he the sole owner of Bafana? Fikile Mbalula is the Minister of Sport and Recreation in the Cabinet of South Africa. SOSCOS recognizes about 70 top sports in South Africa for which Fikile Mbalula is responsible. Why not disposing of SAFA and the brand Bafana to Lakshmi Mittal (he owns YSKOR already) at a discount price – rumours are that he is not too satisfied with his present Queen’s Park Rangers. But then again Alisher Usmanov can be driven into a feeding frenzy and might pay a huge premium just to own Bafana.
    No you are right. Mbalula has all the rights to go Berserk. Sports, and especially the ten or so major sports in South Africa, are emblems of our country’s ability to overcome, to unite, to abide by the rules, to strive for top performance and to compete on even foot against the best in the world. Bafana tarnished South Africa’s image. Tripping over your own feet and falling flat on your face in the doorway is not only humiliating to the faller but to the great embarrassment of friends and family.

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