Nathi Mthethwa goes from the police to arts and culture. Photo: S'bonelo Ngcobo

Johannesburg - When former police minister Nathi Mthethwa was named as the new arts and culture minster on Sunday, the news came as a surprise to many.

In the social media world, many were shocked and disappointed at the thought that someone they thought knew little about the arts was taking over the helm of a ministry that was always put on the back burner.

For others, the problem was not so much the minister but the way the industry was being portrayed.

To add insult to injury, many joked about Mthethwa’s new role, calling it a demotion and sparking some irate tweets from those passionate about the arts.

Actress Florence Masebe, who is known for her active voice in promoting the arts and talking about its shortfalls, expressed her concern and optimism.

She tweeted, “arts and culture is not an inferior ministry” after Twitter comments were made about the ministry being second best to other more “important” ones.

Actor Fana Mokoena, another passionate advocate for the arts, tweeted that there was now a dire need for South African artists to become more active in politics so one day they would be able to take charge of the department.

An interesting post by Artslink, an information network for the arts and culture community, on its Facebook page read: “Musical chairs. We have a new minister of arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa, formerly minister of police.

“The deputy minister is Rejoice Mabudafhasi, formerly deputy minister of water and environmental affairs.

“No arts and culture qualifications or background visible for either.

“Are we moving the deckchairs or sinking the Titanic?”

Others added their opinions, asking why Collins Chabane, the new minister of public service and administration, was not considered to take over the arts and culture ministry because he is a musician and would understand the role much better.

The differences in opinion, however, did not deter people from having some faith in Mthethwa.

They commended him for being an open leader willing to hear what others had to say.

Some tweets:

@NomalangaSA: I don’t get how shifting from Ministry of Arresting Criminals to Ministry of Cultivating Intellectual and Aesthetic Sense is a demotion.

@FloMasebe: It is done. Let’s welcome Mthethwa and his deputy. There’s work to do.

@NomfundoEngler: I don’t know why people think arts and culture is an insignificant ministry.

@thembisak: whaaaaaaat???!!!! why do they always give Arts&Culture to the ones who know nothing about it??!!! ayayayayyyyy.

@mbokazizanele: Could be a wonderful surprise for the industry.


@SwaziDlamini: We could have used a Mbalula in arts and culture.

@fanamokoena: Nathi Mthethwa is now the Minister of Arts and Culture *grabs Essence of Life*

@Tril_Frog: I also wonder what Nathi Mthethwa did to Zuma to get so demoted. From the powerful police to mere arts and culture! Ay.

@Afurakan: #DearLeader how about an artist for minister of arts and culture?

@mynameisjerm: Why the police minister is now the arts and culture minister is obvious. He loves Zuma’s spear and wants to protect it from assholes.

@Linda_Sibiya: To Nathi Mthethwa: We hope we will see change.

@NdumisoNgcobo: Hawu baba wethu Msholozi, do you know that Collins Chabane is a poet and recording musician? Hello!

The Star