Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa File picture: Independent Media
Nathi Mthethwa has been making some uncharacteristically loud noises over the past week. 

Like a jack-in-the-box, he's been popping up with a rash of controversial pronouncements and proposals – some rhetorical, others worthy of debate.

First came his charge that certain ANC leaders had betrayed President Jacob Zuma just as Judas did Jesus.

Everyone knows Mthethwa and Zuma are buddies and the Arts and Culture Minister would probably lay down his life to protect what's left of the president's reputation, but the Judas comparison is pushing things too far.

Worse still is Mthethwa's assertion that these so-called betrayers were not motivated by principle, but by money, and that the people really getting the raw deal are Zuma's infamous friends, the Guptas, who he claims are getting only crumbs from the economy.

For once, my heart bled for the Guptas. Nobody should be allowed to survive on mere crumbs.

So fed up is Mthethwa with some media that his department has decided to withdraw all advertising in those newspapers which, he says, are reporting negatively about the ANC. By starving these errant publications of advertising revenue, he believes he is making his contribution to the defence of the liberation struggle and its leadership.

His latest salvo comes in the shape of a commitment to open discussions on renaming South Africa. After all, “South Africa” is not a proper name. It's more of a signpost for sailors venturing around the dark continent during the old empire-building days.

As Mthethwa put it, South Africa is “just a geographical description of where we are. The country does not have a name”. I can't quibble with that, except to wonder what the new name would be. Although Azania was the name given by Azapo and the PAC from the 1960s, I suppose if Mthethwa has his way it will be Zumaland.

However, since we seem to be captured by a certain family, it could well be Guptastan. What is important is that since we are in a democracy, the people should demand to have a say in the country's naming.

I have no favourite, although I'm partial to the Democratic Republic of Azania. What's yours?

* Lebo Seale is assistant editor at Saturday Star & Sunday Independent Newspapers.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Sunday Independent