Angie Motshekga…for the Minister of Basic Education, you never seem to learn the basics

By the time someone else gets around to creating a countdown of the whackiest things you’ve said in your capacity as Minister, you may no longer be in a position where you can speak on any political platform. Remember Manto but do not look back on her example lest you also be turned into a pillar of salt.

So let’s review the five coolest things you have said while there’s still time and you’re still on the public’s pillory.

5. “What apology? For what?”
Angie, Angie, Angie…when someone demands an apology, at least offer to investigate the situation at hand. Don’t decide on the spot that the complaint is unwarranted. Especially not with the media around. I know it seems bold and self-assured, but it also seems indifferent. You’re dealing with people’s children, here. More importantly, you’re dealing with their tax money. You should expect them to be a little panicky. Take pains to reassure them that their worries are your worries. You gave yourself an 8/10 for job performance. You really want the public to give you that score first.

4. “Don’t judge me on textbook scandal” – “I’m a Minister, I make policy; I don’t deliver work books. So you should judge me on the things that I have to do as a minister. I don’t deliver workbooks. I don’t deliver… So honestly, I don’t even know what is happening in classrooms… so if a teacher beats up a child in a classroom, I’m going to have to take responsibility? I’m not teaching in classrooms. I’m not delivering workbooks.”

How’s the view from your Ivory Tower? And how’s your foot, after you shot yourself in it?

Won’t you be a dear and tell the ANC that the white/liberal/capitalist media didn’t fabricate this? You’re on camera saying it.

3. “Given”
When Doctor Mamphela I-Changed-My-Mind Ramphele said, “the child must be the centre of the educational process” you replied with the next two of your marvelous utterances:

2. “It’s a given that the child is at the centre of the educational process” – as though no one needs to point that out.

Wouldn’t it have been better for you to agree with the doctor, and then expand on her statement, hijacking it as your own in broad daylight? You shouldn’t have been so defensive, dismissive or disdainful. “Yes! The child should be at the centre of the process, and our government is committed to discerning and meeting our children’s needs with increasing efficiency. We know that the children are our future, and we are committed to ensuring that their future is first-class.” You could have used that moment to show your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. Whether that appearance of willingness matches any reality would have been for you to figure out when you’re alone with your conscience. You could have played to both the fears and the hopes of your listeners.

Currently, Angie, many of us your taxpayers, do not feel that the child is at the centre of the educational process. Even the host of the show pointed out that the public perception is that the child isn’t at the centre of the education system, but many of the ANC’s parasites – you know, some unions that care less for the job than for its pay, the corrupt cronies and the resource-hogging hegemonies; you know, your party’s usual entourage – have placed themselves where the children should be.

To this point about perceptions out there, you replied with your second gem for that night: “Perceptions are for the public.”

2. “Perceptions are for the public”

Angie, the public is not stupid. We have eyes and ears in places you don’t. We know what happens in the classrooms you yourself admitted to knowing nothing about because our nephews, nieces and children are in those classrooms. If there is a perception among us that the Department has problems, you’d better take it more seriously than you would a terminal disease.

And then, very recently, there was this:

1. “ANC has no chance in Western Cape”

Angie, take a leaf from Julius Malema’s book. Now, you might have an advantage over other political analysts in that you are in the thick of it, but for ANC’s God’s sake (it’s so easy to get those two mixed up nowadays), Angie, you are not paid to give an accurate forecast of political results. Nobody likes it when someone spoils the ending.

Part of what makes Julius’ EFF election campaign so explosive is that his team aggressively pushes a triumphant message regardless of the odds. The idea that they believe their own garbage terrifies me. The idea that more than 2% of South Africans believe their garbage is a tragedy of global significance. But notice how relentless their optimism is.

Even when questioned about gossip regarding a most unlikely marriage with the DA for Gauteng, their reply only speaks in terms of the victory they have their sights on. “These reports must be dismissed as mere desperate speculations in an attempt to defocus the EFF’s objective of taking government, particularly in Gauteng,” was how Julius threw the query back at the media. Notice, Angie, that though they must know that they’ll lose, they will still see to it that they give your party sleepless nights and have you draining your campaign resources just to make sure that the EFF doesn’t win a number of seats that justifies its confidence up until then. Nobody backs a losing horse; Julius knows that. When he loses Gauteng, he’ll probably say that the loss was “politically motivated” but imagine the number of votes his victor rhetoric will win him. Remember your own wise saying: “Perceptions are for the public” and then play the public using those perceptions. That is how politics works.

You wear two hats: the first is as the Minister of Basic Education. That hat requires you to deal with reality. Your other hat is as a politician. That one is mostly about perceptions. Don’t mix these two. Save the harsh reality for your employees and suppliers; save the sweet-talk for your voters. Yes, these two categories overlap but for ANC’s sake don’t mix them up completely – especially not with the media around!

You must learn to play the game, Angie.

What I’m really hearing you say here is, “If I were a Western Cape voter, I’d stick to the DA or vote for anything except the ANC.” You believe that your party is giving the people a raw deal: you believe that South Africa would be better off under the Western Cape’s local government. You believe that for the Western Cape to change to ANC would be stupid. You believe that this is the perception; more importantly, you know – you’ve always known – that the perception has a lot of truth to it.

Your party will probably drag an apology out of you for those words.

But off the record, Angie? Just between you and me?

This time, I agree with your infamous, “What apology? For what?”

You shouldn’t have to apologize for telling the truth. I mean, we get so little of it from the ANC nowadays that I reckon that maybe you deserve that 8/10 after all.



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