Editorial: He he he he he … the joke’s on us

We are fast becoming a nation of jesters, rather than one that is serious about corruption and maladministration.

Judging by the performance of President Jacob Zuma in Parliament last week, with his comedy routine about “Nkaaaaaaandla” performed to smirks and giggles from the government benches, followed by the police and public works ministers’ press conference about the so-called security upgrades at the president’s private homestead, it would appear that in the top levels of government, at least, we have many amateur comedians.

Which is probably why Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula tried to outdo his Cabinet colleagues, aiming to become South Africa’s next best thing to Trevor Noah in front of a worldwide audience, not only last week, but again on Wednesday at Safa House, where the “minister of selfies” attempted to convince citizens and the rest of the world that South Africa’s hands are clean when it comes to Fifa and the allegations of bribery and corruption.

South Africa’s reputation is at stake. One would expect a bit more finesse and less buffoonery. Do our leaders think that we are blind to all the serious questions demanding answers and that we will be satisfied with comedy?

To add insult to injury, we are also bombarded with red herrings. We need straight answers, not amateur videos with smarmy music, not bluster and obfuscation and not accusations of colonialism and imperialism being thrown about. We are patriotic South Africans. We must not be treated like idiots.

Given the sensational allegations against the Fifa Nostra, we need to conduct our own investigations into the latest bribery allegations. If we don’t trust the Americans, the least we can do is trust ourselves. We also need to revive the match-fixing inquiry Zuma put a stop to in 2014 because Fifa was already involved in a preliminary probe.

As we’ve said before, quoting the old proverb, a fish rots from its head. We know this because the cancer in our executive has already spread to the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Police Service, the South African Revenue Service and other key government departments. We have lost our moral authority on the international stage and we are losing control at home. We are paying top public servants millions to leave office and to shut them up.

How much is enough? What will be the tipping point for those of us who are law-abiding, concerned citizens? For as long as we sit back and throw our hands in the air in dismay but do nothing about it, the joke will be on us.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: George Euvrard, the brains behind our cryptic crossword

George Euvrard spoke to Athandiwe Saba about his passion for education, clues on how to solve his crosswords and the importance of celebrating South Africa.

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

More top stories

Department of basic education edges closer to releasing matric results

The basic education department has said that it is almost done with the marking process and that the capturing of marks is in progress.

The rare fairytale of Percy Tau

Through much hard work and a bit of good fortune, the South African attacker has converted a potential horror story into magic

Somali troops may have been drawn into Ethiopia’s civil war

The Mail & Guardian spoke to Somalis about their relatives who disappeared after signing up for military training and fear they may have been killed

US-Africa policy can be reset under Biden

A lack of nuanced, in-depth analysis has in the past led to policy blunders – with disastrous consequences

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…