Mail & Guardian
Bury minister of funerals, Cyril
What can Mthethwa say to justify allowing artists to starve while the money allocated to help them is being chowed?
Wednesday. It’s day 363 of the Covid-19 lockdown. In two days, it will be a full year since President Cyril Ramaphosa called the very first family meeting, told us to #Ratherstaypozi and shut the country down.
A year of salary cuts and lockdown rules; a year of trying to live in accordance with the disaster regulations, while watching those who made them up and imposed them on us flaunting them, daily.
A year of “do what we say, not what we do”.
A whole 12 months of lockdowns, masks and social distancing; of sitting at home, obediently, under level 5, while the Covid-19 funds are looted; 363 days of watching the death toll rise, drop, and rise again; 52 weeks of funerals, memorials and intermittent booze bans; closed beaches, remote press briefings and frenzied handwashing; a year of watching health minister Zweli Mkhize speaking faster — and becoming less and less convincing — every time he appears on the TV screen.
There’s no indication that the year to come will be any different.
Any less deadly.
The head of state, it appears, is
about to call another family meeting, not to wish us happy lockdown day, but to move us back to level two ahead of the Easter holidays, to try and limit the ferocity of the third wave of infections that is heading our way.
Ramaphosa doesn’t really have any other option.
We’ve vaccinated about 15 people, an arm or two short of the one million inoculations to health workers we were promised by the end of March, so what can he do except try and keep us off the streets, out of the pubs, clubs and churches during the holidays and hope that we, unlike his colleagues, will play by the rules. Again.
There are serious rumours doing the rounds that the president is planning a second family meeting, this one to reshuffle his cabinet. They’ve been building for about a week or so, gently at first, but with increasing vigour.
Everybody in the ANC and in government has heard about the reshuffle. Nobody knows exactly who is going where, or precisely when,
but the big shake-up appears to be coming.
According to the comrades, it is, among others, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, out and replaced with Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. Lindiwe Sisulu shifted from human settlements to public service and replaced by her deputy, David Mahlobo.
Pravin Gordhan finally out of public enterprises. SAA moved to the transport ministry. Eskom to minerals and energy. Patricia de Lille gone from public works.
There are more possible permutations being kicked about by the various ANC factions than in a betting shop.
It’s been 22 days since opera singer Sibongile Mngoma and her comrades started their sit-in at the National Arts Council (NAC) offices in Braamfontein. The amount of looting they’ve uncovered since has been staggering. Sickening, actually, and a pretty clear indication that those who are running the NAC are at best useless and at worst, bent.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s silence, his lack of action, on the looting under his watch is worrying, but not very surprising.
After all, what can Mthethwa say to justify allowing artists to starve while the money allocated to help them is being chowed?
I didn’t know?
It wasn’t me?
A big boy did it and ran away? Then again, stranger explanations have been offered by the minister in the past.
Back in 2012, when Mthethwa was police minister, crime intelligence illegally built a wall around his house using money looted from the informer fund. A head-highstop-nonsense, as such structures are known in the Kingdom, all the way around the house, with a guardhouse and a big, bling metal gate.
Confronted, Mthethwa first kept quiet, then claimed that he didn’t know who paid for the wall. The auditor general bought Mthethwa’s story and he beat the rap.
Like many of my fellow South Africans, I’m wondering if the president will use the cabinet reshuffle to do the country a favour and get rid of our de facto minister of funerals.
Like many of my fellow citizens, and most people in the artistic and sporting community, I’m hoping that Ramaphosa will use this opportunity to do the right thing.
Mthethwa — whose political career should have been terminated after the Marikana massacre — should be cut loose over the looting of the R300-million presidential employment stimulus programme. Award him the Presidential Order of Don’t Come Monday and an Uber voucher home for allowing the NAC to channel millions of rands to dodge punters, whose only precovid performances were at ANC campaign rallies, instead of doing his job.