Would it be too revo­lu­tion­ary to make Danny Jor­daan sports min­is­ter?

CityPress - - Sport - Simnikiwe Xabanisa sports@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Simx­a­ban­isa

For­get how poor Malusi Gi­gaba – whose most re­cent claim to fame was an al­leged mis­tress who did not quite grasp the con­cept of be­ing the other wo­man – be­came the min­is­ter of fi­nance. What I want to know is, how is the sports min­is­ter cho­sen?

In the 23 years since 1994, the men who have held that po­si­tion are Steve Tsh­wete, Ng­conde Bal­four, Makhenkesi Stofile, Fik­ile Mbalula and now Them­be­lani “Thu­las” Nx­esi – five men who could not be more dif­fer­ent from each other.

I have said be­fore in this col­umn that Tsh­wete came across as a fel­low sporting tragic, mak­ing him a man with whom we could all iden­tify; Bal­four of­ten spoke a lot and loudly with­out say­ing any­thing; Stofile was a dig­ni­fied pres­ence, but al­most al­ways seemed out of place; Mbalula did his best to in­tro­duce tweet­ing as a sporting code; and Nx­esi is a mys­tery.

Be­cause of said dif­fer­ences, one can­not help but won­der what goes through the state pres­i­dent’s mind as he pre­pares to throw the con­fetti while con­fer­ring min­is­te­rial po­si­tions.

Not to sound like a new age whenwe, I felt Madiba ap­plied the right sen­si­bil­i­ties in his de­ci­sion­mak­ing when he named Mr Fixit (Tsh­wete) as his sports min­is­ter. Mind­ful of sport’s abil­ity to unite South Africans (we may bicker among our­selves, but we love win­ners), Tsh­wete was the per­fect choice. A hard but fair man with a voice as grav­elly as the roads in his na­tive Peel­ton in the East­ern Cape, Tsh­wete un­der­stood the com­plex­i­ties of South African sport at that time – back then, we were talk­ing about ax­ing the Spring­bok logo – and knew when to com­pro­mise and when not to.

But when the eru­dite and econ­omy minded Thabo Mbeki and the not-so eru­dite but per­sonal econ­omy minded Ja­cob Zuma took over, the rea­son­ing as to why one qual­i­fied to the repub­lic’s sports min­is­ter has be­come a lit­tle blurry.

Does he have to be con­ver­sant with the art of the hos­pi­tal pass as Gi­gaba has come to be over the past week or so? Does he have to un­der­stand the fine line be­tween a re­verse sweep and a switch hit, as Num­ber One seems to?

Does he have to un­der­stand the slide rule that leads to be­ing off­side and there­fore sur­plus to re­quire­ments, as Pravin Gord­han seems to be?

Por­ing over Nx­esi’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions, it is com­fort­ing to see that education is his thing be­cause the best coaches in sport have al­ways been teach­ers.

The Matatiele-born 58-year-old seems to be a man who is able to build things, if the growth of the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union in his time as gen­eral sec­re­tary there (from 30 000 in 1995 to 250 000 in 2009) is any­thing to go by.

But in his pre­vi­ous guise as min­is­ter of public works, he was ac­cused of mis­lead­ing Par­lia­ment about the costs of the up­grades to Nkandla.

So, while he may not have had to ex­plain whether the in­fa­mous fire pool was Olympic size or short course, he was part of ex­plain­ing the in­ex­pli­ca­ble.

And, as ever when it comes to these ap­point­ments, Nx­esi has no ex­pe­ri­ence in sport what­so­ever, which means such re­quired read­ing as I Am Zla­tan will now have to jos­tle for room along­side Das Kap­i­tal on his book­shelf as he tries to bring him­self up to speed.

The fail­ure to grasp that, in a coun­try bat­tling fi­nan­cially and run with one hand in our back pock­ets, sport be­comes the only thing the rest of us can cling on to for hope.

How hard is it to find some­one from the gov­ern­ing party with in­ter­est and ex­pe­ri­ence in sport to run it? How dif­fi­cult is it to tap up SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan, who as an ANC mem­ber has served as Nel­son Man­dela Bay mayor, for the job?

Af­ter all, he or­gan­ised the first Soc­cer World Cup in Africa, mean­ing he un­der­stands the struc­tures he would need to im­ple­ment as min­is­ter to im­prove the pipe­lines for our codes.

He may cur­rently strug­gle to or­gan­ise a Bafana Bafana coach, but his cre­den­tials are a damn sight bet­ter than these sub­sti­tute teach­ers we keep get­ting lumped with.

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