HOW I WILL REMEMBER OUR MINISTERS (PART 2)
MY fly on the wall tells me that it was a mixed reaction Cabinet meeting this week as the ministers reminisced on the pot-shots aimed at them by this column last Friday.
While some ministers took it in the light-hearted manner it was designed to be others were hot on the collar over the article as they felt it didn’t portray them in the manner they see themselves.
Quite unfortunate. Never mind that there are those who cared less and actually didn’t even know they featured in the infamous column.
It reminds me of the saying that there are three types of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask, what happened? Unfortunately, that’s the nature of life.
I am also told in that meeting, those who took the article light-heartedly were poking fun at their colleagues who didn’t feature, warning them to expect the worst this week. To those ministers who were irritated by the article, I have one thing to say; They must take a chill pill and they will soon be fine.
To those who were less bothered, perhaps it explains exactly what I was saying in the article, that they are only there for the perks and couldn’t care less about anything else. Talk of stomach politics.
As I had alluded in that article, the views are based on how I will remember the outgoing ministers, not so much for what they have done. In all fairness I will miss each one of them.
Below is a continuation of the snippet of how I will personally remember each of the current Cabinet ministers.
Education and Training Minister Phineas Magagula: What can I say about the ageing former SNAT boss? I am sure there
Phineas Magagula. are times when he wished he didn’t consider the job at all. It hasn’t been smooth sailing in the education sector under him. I will not be lying if I say at times he wished he was back home at Lomahasha playing with his grandchildren than being made to run around trying to fix the education crisis. He is currently faced with a hot potato on his lap; which is the issue of the Swaziland Christian University (SCU). I’m told the old man has a personal interest in the matter. Maybe it’s time he declared it for the benefit of the students and everyone involved.
Economic Planning and Development Minister Prince Hlangusemphi: My editor always says the prince is better at dancing than what he is actually doing in the ministry. I didn’t want to believe it, but Hlangusemphi has not done anything to dissuade my thinking.
One significant project that put him under a lot of spotlight was the hosting of the SADC Summit last year. Apart from the recent reports of some cars and motorbikes lying idle 13 months after the event, there are also disturbing talks of over-expenditure by the ministry. Maybe the minister needs to come out clean on these suspicions.
Agriculture Minister Moses Vilakati: The man from Ntondozi is one of those who were caught in complete awe of being Cabinet ministers; hence he has this habit of shooting from the hip. He will forever be remembered for failing to save 80 000 cattle for Swazi farmers during the drought.
Had he been proactive, he would have made contingency plans well in advance to take cattle from the farmers or even subsidised them with bales to save the dying livestock. But what could we expect from Moses, he failed to save himself during the drought. I still have a vivid picture of his withered maize fields, which didn’t portray a good picture about a minister responsible for agriculture.
Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Minister David ‘Cruiser’ Ngcamphalala: I know he would like to think he has done very well during his term, unfortunately not. I think his background as a police officer, where he followed orders to the letter, let him down. Once you are a minister you are on your own and have been entrusted to make decisions, bitter or sweet. Unfortunately, ‘Cruiser’ thought he could win over the sporting fraternity by being all over the show. Yes, he has ridden bicycles and ran marathons but is that all ‘Cruiser’? Where is your legacy as sports minister, where are the policies to develop sports in the country. Football is at a point where it should be moving a step forward into being fully professional.
Health Minister Sibongile NdlelaSimelane: What is there to remember about Sibongile? Nothing much really, the same problems in the ministry are still there, drugs shortage and people still sleeping under beds to watch Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane. over their sick relatives.
But I won’t forget the swiftness with which she made sure her husband, who is a principal, was moved to a Mbabane school as soon as she was appointed minister. I’m sure she must have told Simelane soon after the appointment that she would take him with her. She must have whispered the late Brenda Fassie popular song:
But that was good minister; you shouldn’t trust anyone with your man. Clearly, she doesn’t believe in long distance relationships.
Commerce, Industry and Trade Minister Jabulani Mabuza: If anyone needed evidence that it’s hot in the Cabinet, then Mabuza is the reference point. The likeable minister has literally gone grey.
He’s grown more grey hair than policies in both ministries, having started at tourism ministry but later switched to commerce. It’s still unclear though if the grey hair has anything to with things being tough in Cabinet or Mabuza is counting the losses suffered by his businesses while he serves government. To compound matters, his businesses have been targeted by thugs all over the country.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza: Another of those you even forget he’s a Cabinet minister. He’s neither here nor there. His low profile approach, however, doesn’t mean everything is well in the ministry. He recently received two delegations from Mbabane residents, email@example.com raising queries about the way the capital city is run.
Public Service Minister Owen Nxumalo: He’s a newbie in Cabinet and, therefore, we have not seen much from him. But one thing for sure he will be very busy these days following the zero per cent offer to civil servants. I call him ‘Dancing Owen’ from his days at Manzini Municipality. We will all be curious how he will dance his way out of this one.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Edgar Hillary: Another from the pensioners’ club in Cabinet. He’s not been in the ministry much longer after taking over from fired Sibusiso Shongwe. But clearly his approach to things is at the expected pace of an old man. Maybe that was the kind of stability that was needed after Shongwe.
Tourism and Environmental Affairs Minister Christopher Gamedze: Another newcomer in Cabinet. Nothing much has been seen from him, except his careless statement about police waylaying drink-driving tourists after the MTN Bushfire.