Defend Truth


Dear Minister of Sport and Recreational Drugs…

Paul Berkowitz: studied economics, maths stats. Worked at Econometrix, FNB, Wits. Interested in South African politics, economics.

We may not be the fastest or strongest country in gym class, but according to minister of sports and recreation Fikile Mbalula, we are “the children and grandchildren of Nelson Mandela”. What need have we for victory with such a bloodline? 

Dear Minister Razzmatazz,

I read your letter on Wednesday morning in the Sowetan. It was huge. It was massive. It was gargantuan. When you hit the drop with phrases like “the swag of sport hitting our shores”, Minister, it was like being pimp-slapped by Big Brother himself. You left me with ringing in my ears and a big goofy grin on my face. 

You are certainly bringing the swag, Daddy Fat Sacks. When Bheki Cele hung up his feathered fedora, some of us wondered if there was a head out there big enough to fill it. Well, I for one wonder no more. You are crushing it, Bra Razz. They tell me Kenny Kunene is scared to return your calls on a weeknight. They’re naming a theme bar after you at Avastar. 

You’ve made sports and recreation a department to be reckoned with. In the past, a ministerial posting here could be a bit of a hospital pass (that’s a rugby term, like ‘Moer hulle!’). A person couldn’t be quite sure if your department was where they sent political careers to die, like the department of women, children and other special interest groups, or an MEC in the North-West. 

You showed us, and you did it by thinking outside of the box. Other ministers focused too narrowly on the sport aspect of the department, to the lamentable neglect of recreation. You have reminded us that recreation is the greatest sport of them all. 

For your birthday last year you had Brandy, Regina King and Vivicia A Fox come and party all MTV-Base stylee with you (I think the before-party was at the SA Sports Awards). This year you wanted to have Beyonce come out, but a whole bunch of miserable haters stopped that from happening. That was a huge mistake. Firstly, Beyonce is American, and American things are authentic, like the accent of a Kaya FM DJ or the new Cell C radio advertisement. Secondly, her body is bootylicious. 

Thirdly, people like Vavi must not pretend that your department is about achieving measurable outcomes in sporting excellence or transformation. That would be like saying that SAFA acts to improve South African soccer or that Cricket South Africa is driving development of young cricketers from underprivileged areas. Everybody knows that sports fans in South Africa are abused spouses who have stopped believing in hope and that SAFA/CSA are money pits where excellence and accountability go to die. 

Sport is like religion, and religion is about giving charismatic people all your cash in exchange for the promise of a better life in another world. It’s about keeping a smile on your face as you kiss your money goodbye. Ms Knowles knew this back when she fronted for Destiny’s Child. Remember ‘Independent Woman (Pimp Daddy Razzmatazz Mix)’? 

‘All taxpayers/ bankrolling playas/ throw your hands up at me.’

But I digress. I’m a bit punch-drunk (boxing metaphor, thought you’d like it) from the mighty blows your letter delivered to my sensibilities. Sometimes I pretend that your department was constituted to achieve measurable outcomes and I waste my time thinking about what these outcomes could be. 

Some boys dream of being captain of the Proteas, and some girls dream of being a cheerleader for the Blue Bulls and bearing Steve Hofmeyr’s illegitimate child. I dream of a national soccer team in the top 30 of the FIFA world rankings, or at least in the top five in Africa, a team that only dances when they win a match. 

I know they’re just silly, crazy dreams. I’m sorry to have distracted you from your very important duties of partying like a former Youth League president, starring in your own Tyler Perry movie and writing newspaper editorials while on drugs. 

To be sports minister is like being the caretaker coach of the nation’s dreams, which is not the same thing as taking care of the nation’s dreams. Sport, like politics, is meant to be fun and not hard work.  

Thank you for your time. The future is BOOM BOOM BANG and other words full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Your razzmatazz got me looking so crazy right now. Let’s all unite behind social cohesion and mediocrity. 


Paul (professional fan) DM


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