Defend Truth


Dear Minister FixIt, fixed anything lately? Your legacy says otherwise


Thamsanqa D Malinga is director at Mkabayi Management Consultants; a writer, columnist, and political commentator, as well as author of Blame Me on Apartheid and A Dream Betrayed.

You have been shining in absence in all the portfolios you have been assigned to. The only time we see you is when you go on a media blitz, doing what Amilcar Cabral cautioned against – claiming easy victories.

This is the second in a series of letters I am writing to Cabinet ministers. I am taking this opportunity that freedom of speech allows me to frankly address Minister “look at me… look at me, claim easy victories” of Transport, Fikile Mbalula.

Minister Mbalula, in my first letter to your colleague in State Security, Zizi Kodwa, I invoked the words of one of the leaders that your organisation and members hold in high esteem. Oliver Reginald Tambo. I know that in your youth you were among the throngs that sang amagwijo (revolutionary chants) pleading for Tambo to arm your generation to fight apartheid or telling him how you’ve been chased away from your homes and that has led you to umzabalazo (the Struggle).

Lest we forget, Tambo never spared your movement from chastisement, in foresight. For this reason, I quoted him and his caution of how those who have taken the ANC pledge and task of deployment must not “help the enemy by withholding (their) own contribution”.

It is fitting that as I address you, in your role as a deployee of the movement of Tambo, I once again borrow words of caution. This time I will borrow from one of Tambo’s revolutionary counterparts, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau. In his Party Directive delivered in 1965, Cabral cautioned: “If 10 men go to a rice field and do the day’s work of eight, there’s no reason to be satisfied. It’s the same in battle. Ten men fight like eight; that’s not enough.” He concluded his delivery with the famous quote that many would later attribute to Tambo: “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”

Well, Minister Mbalula, I am afraid that you are one of the two men missing from the 10 that Cabral painfully spoke about. You are one of the lot who are just dead wood in our government, to whom I have taken the liberty of addressing in this series of letters.

As one of the two men missing “in the rice field” you have been shining in absence in all the portfolios you have been assigned to. The only time we see you is when you go on a media blitz doing what Cabral cautioned against – claiming easy victories.

Recently I came across one of your easy victories when you tweeted a video about the Mabopane railway line – or was it Wolmerton? This, of course, became a priority after that failed electioneering stunt by the president of your party, President Cyril Ramaphosa. This was followed by the launch (another media blitz) of a “war room”.

By the way, how is that going – if it still exists? I am asking because train stations have become what we call in isiZulu, amanxiwa (the English word “ruins” doesn’t do much justice) because amanxiwa are just foundations and in other cases structures so dilapidated that you have to guess that this is where a home or a building was.

The railway infrastructure has been ruined under your stewardship, dear Mr Fix-It. Soweto has no more than 10 running trains – if they ever get to run as they are now pulled by a diesel engine.

In fact, the whole of Johannesburg, East Rand, West Rand and the Vaal, you name it, have experienced dereliction on your watch. Shacks have been built on railway tracks, railway lines and electricity supply structures have been stripped, and I doubt your “war room” dared look into this mess. You just needed an easy picking to claim an easy victory and the president’s stunt provided you with one.

I somehow thank God for resolving to destroy that stunt by depriving it of reason while people are suffering daily due to a crumbling transportation system that the majority of the downtrodden have relied on daily – for years. Yet you have managed to preside over its destruction in fewer than five years, a record you wouldn’t dare claim as one easy victory.

Have you ever driven on the roads that are marred by potholes and poor visibility? Roads that have been so neglected that people perish on them daily, even a comrade of your movement, the late mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Jolidee Matongo (may his soul rest in peace).

Minister, you are missing “on the rice field” and you should hang your head in shame, not for your theatrical quips such as the latest “people are driving without cars”, or the one at the height of Covid restrictions: “People must sit down before they get into a taxi.” Those are nothing.

You should hang your head in shame (and maybe consider leaving the “rice field” in toto) for “indirect(ly) aid(ing) the enemy (our people) fight by withholding (your) own contributions”, to borrow and paraphrase Tambo. You have aided the poverty and the exclusion of our people by not actively contributing meaningfully to their struggle and helping them to overcome it.

Instead, like all other absent colleagues of yours, you have enjoyed whatever largesse you can access via your portfolio – not excluding the Saxonwold curry (as per your admission), among others.

I could write ad infinitum, going back to your previous portfolios including safety and security and sport and recreation – oh, how I remember you huffing and puffing in tracksuits during one of your media blitzes. It would certainly be a waste to yank out your resumé as I will be regurgitating failure upon failure and frivolous media pomp after frivolous media pomp.

I am sure I speak for many when I say that the republic could do better without you in the Cabinet. In closing, allow me to draw from the wisdom of Cabral, who said: “Responsible members must take life seriously, conscious of their responsibilities, thoughtful about carrying them out, and with a comradeship based on work and duty done.”

You have not shown yourself to be a responsible member of our Parliament and have no work to show for all the years, no duty done. DM


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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Heinrich Holt says:

    No he must stay. Every (incompetent) cabinet needs a mascot.

  • Joe Soap says:

    Can someone name a minister that has actually provided service to the nation? They are there to serve themselves, and in that, they excel.

  • John Traas says:

    Mr FixIt is irrevocable proof that the Cabinet’s theme song is “Send in the Clowns”

  • Andrew Johnson says:

    But Ivo, Mr Fix is the perfect Minister, unlike that Sisulu woman who just stirs things up, he smiles a lot, he doesnt argue with Squirrel, he doesnt create work for the Cadres to do, he is a perfect ANC politician.

  • Charles Parr says:

    Mr Malinga, another great piece. Where I disagree with you is the use of Cabral’s ‘if ten men go to the rice field and do the work of eight’. If we South Africanise that it would be ‘ten men go to the field and do the work of none because management doesn’t have the slightest idea of what needs to be achieved and the managers, which means all of them, have opposing agendas and so nothing is achieved’. Isn’t that where our transport situation is now.

  • Franz Dullaart says:

    Well, actually only two are working in the rice paddy. Mr. Fix Nothing is one of the absent eight.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    The author is spot on. Mbalula started from a low base of incompetence and continued to climb regardless. A corruption of the Peter Principle? And, unfortunately, the story of ANC ministers, with very few notable exceptions, over the last 28 years.

  • Eulalie Spamer says:

    A perfect summing up of this blowhard’s contribution to the chaos all around us.

  • Luan Sml says:

    Great article, spot on!
    Just an aside, but I’m finding in incredibly difficult to imagine who the other eight of the ten men working in the rice paddy could possibly be?
    Maybe they’re holding a spade to look busy, but I digress…

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