As for his successor as Sports Minister, well I don’t have much hope for him. Thulas Nxesi is neither flash, nor loud and he doesn’t talk as much as Fikile Mbalula. And on Tuesday, he actually started a press briefing early. But he doesn’t seem vested in his new portfolio.
There are smarter people than me who can unpack the inner workings of the ANC and the politics that currently drives the head honcho to do what he does, but appointing Nxesi to the sports portfolio looks to me like a grand “thank you” for what Nxesi did in helping to cover up the mess that is the homestead in rural KZN. “Here you go Thulas, thanks for the sweaty masquerade, have Sport.”
Nxesi was at the release of the Transformation Status Report drawn up by the Eminent Persons Group this week.
Last year his predecessor turned that release into quite a memorable event when he banned Rugby, Athletics, Cricket and Netball from bidding to host international events in this country. Lots of people got upset, including Jacques Kallis. But by merely scratching the surface you could tell that it was all a lot of hot air, however – something Mbalula is particularly good at producing.
Less than six months later, Mbalula gave the government’s blessing for SA Rugby to put in a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Credibility? What credibility?
Nxesi confirmed on Tuesday that the four sports were allowed to once more bid to host events. According to the Transformation Status Report for the period covering 2015/16, they had achieved their targets. Trouble is, for that period, the sports actually hadn’t. The target for the men’s senior national cricket side was 50 percent, but for the period covering the 2015/16 the figure, according to the report, the Proteas achieved 45 percent. The Springboks were at 34 percent. Targets clearly weren’t achieved, but never mind, go ahead and bid anyway.
Nxesi mouthed through a few platitudes – “can’t shift the goalposts, school sports is important, I must have meetings”, blah blah blah.
Ministers get paid about R2.3-million a year. Assuming there’ll be no further reshuffles (a stretch I know) that’s a nice cushy “thank you” for Nxesi who theoretically should be in the post until 2019. Meanwhile, the serious matter of transformation in sport will probably be left to the federations and it will be for the public to hold them to their targets.
The government-appointed Minister isn’t serious – a bit like his predecessor.