Mr President, fire ‘incompetent, aloof, out-of-touch’ Mthethwa

Ideas

Mr President, fire ‘incompetent, aloof, out-of-touch’ Mthethwa

The almost seven years the minister has been in his position betrays the ANC’s attitude to the arts

Chris Thurman

I am incredibly fortunate to be an arts columnist — to write, each week, about a tiny sliver of what artists in SA and around the world are doing, making, thinking, dreaming and creating. In the midst of pandemics and poverty and warfare there are, at any given moment, millions of people doing art: from solitary painters in makeshift studios to collaborative sea-shanty remixes on TikTok.       

I’d far rather allocate this column to an artist doing something. But as our country’s arts and culture sector continues to plummet deeper and deeper into crisis, I have no choice but to write about someone who does nothing. I refer, of course, to our sport, arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa.

This won’t be the first time I have griped about him. I’ve been pointing to his patent shortcomings since he was appointed to the role in 2014 — when he was “demoted” from police minister by finger-wagging former president Jacob Zuma. That Mthethwa remains in his position almost seven years later (now with additional responsibility for sport; the less said about that the better) betrays the ANC’s attitude to the arts and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inability to get rid of dead wood...

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