Why sports min­is­ter fre­quently makes a hash (tag) of it

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE - LEBOGANG SEALE

HIS PEN­CHANT for tak­ing to Twit­ter to ex­press his views has earned him crit­ics, with some say­ing he suf­fers from foot-in­mouth dis­ease.

But Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula re­mains de­fi­ant to the end, in­sist­ing he won’t re­treat from the so­cial me­dia space, let alone tone down his ide­o­log­i­cal tus­sles with his op­po­nents and crit­ics alike.

“What is Twit­ter?” Mbalula asks, in a rather con­fronta­tional tone when he is asked about be­ing a mem­ber of the Twit­terati.

“We live in a so­ci­ety where peo­ple don’t know what min­is­ters are do­ing, where oth­ers say all that min­is­ters do is sleep in Par­lia­ment.

“For me, Twit­ter has be­come the great­est mar­ket­ing plat­form and so­cial net­work to tell the story of what I do.

“I can’t rely on peo­ple like you (the me­dia), peo­ple who sec­ond-guess what I do.”

Mbalula is not one to shy away from tak­ing on his op­po­nents via Twit­ter, as wit­nessed in the so­cial me­dia turf war with his friend-turned-foe, EFF leader Julius Malema, re­cently. Again, he re­mains un­apolo­getic.

“I can’t run away and al­low my­self to be bul­lied in a pub­lic space cre­ated for all of us to par­tic­i­pate in. I can’t suf­fer from black­mail of some sort of un­de­fined sta­tus that is very elu­sive about how a min­is­ter must be­have.

“I will never al­low somebody to dis­tort my work just be­cause they en­joy a bet­ter plat­form, and if I ex­press my­self through it, then I am not be­ing min­is­te­rial?” So how should the min­is­ter be­have? “A min­is­ter mustn’t be drunk in pub­lic. A min­is­ter must be a moral fig­ure in terms of what he or she seeks to achieve and be able to ex­press him­self on per­ti­nent ques­tions that face so­ci­ety be­cause there are no holy cows in this life.”

And how does the min­is­ter re­spond to the pub­lic at­tacks?

“It’s im­por­tant that I must take crit­i­cism in good faith and dis­tin­guish be­tween crit­i­cism that is gen­uine and that which is not.

“When peo­ple dif­fer with me and swear at me, I recog­nise the fact that other peo­ple are re­ally, re­ally in­fe­rior be­cause they should be en­gag­ing con­struc­tively with­out pa­tro­n­is­ing us min­is­ters.

“Glob­al­i­sa­tion has ac­tu­ally evolved to a point where the world has be­come smaller be­cause I can re­late to any­body in a split sec­ond.

“It is this in­cli­na­tion that leads to peo­ple re­act­ing on the spur of the mo­ment and ex­press­ing the type of views they might later re­gret.

“You say things on the spot that other peo­ple don’t want to hear and then you are sub­jected to scru­tiny. I said Bafana Bafana were a bunch of losers and I was told that I wasn’t be­ing min­is­te­rial be­cause the min­is­ter must be diplo­matic.

“To­day, within the limited space that has been cre­ated, I can ex­press my views. I en­joy my­self on Twit­ter more than any other thing. I love the ridicu­lous stuff, the hi­lar­i­ous things that peo­ple get to say.”

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