We have a habit in our otherwise wonderful country, I’ve
long felt, of being too reverent and fawning in television terms toward our
politicians … most certainly during the apartheid days but also stretching now
into the post-democratic landscape.
So SuperSport didn’t win special favours with yours truly
when Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula suddenly popped up for a pitch-side
interview at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium slap-bang in the midst of combat in the
highly entertaining (if you’re a Bok-lover, at least) rugby Test between South Africa
and Scotland last Saturday.
There’s a time and place for government bigwigs to get
airtime, of course, but on sports match-day itself I avowedly believe that only
rugby people should be involved in matters rugby.
That said, I also
understand — a little grudgingly – why celebrities, in this age of lamentable obsession
with them, occasionally may be snap-interviewed when spotted in the audience at
sporting occasions (as long as these happen in gaps in play).
But at least “celebs” can generally be regarded as
politically neutral or non-aligned in such circumstances, whereas a sound-bite
opportunity – particularly for so prolific a source of these as Mbalula – by a
Cabinet Minister out of his normal terrain has reason to be regarded as unnecessarily
partial to his particular cause.
There just seemed no special reason for him to be given a
gratuitous plug in the middle of a Test match, by my book.
Would you ever see such an occurrence during combat at