Minister Kgathi is such a yawn; refused morning glory
by Sonny O. Serite
Even though in some cases it’s a complete mismatch between the minister and the ministry, whereby the personality of the minister doesn’t match the ministry he or she is leading, more often, ministerial positions are allocated based on the professional background of Members of Parliament.
For example, I want to believe President Khama appointed Christian De Graaf Minister of Agriculture because he is a reputable farmer and has studied animal artificial insemination.
I am told Minister Shaw Kgathi was at some point the Director of Sports and Recreation, hence his appointment to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. But, unlike De Graaf or Ken Matambo at Ministry of Finance, Kgathi doesn’t appeal as Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture.
I mean, besides struggling to pronounce the word ‘gymnasium’ when officiating at some sporting event a while ago, I find nothing youthful or sporty about him. He doesn’t possess that bravura you would expect from a minister holding his portfolio where most of the activities under his ministry are youth orientated.
He strikes me as a lost soul and I often pity him whenever I see him ‘shining’ on national television.
Minister Kgathi recently travelled to London for the Olympics. He went to London way before the games began. In fact, he arrived well ahead of some of the participating athletes. His trip was fully paid for by me and you, the taxpayers. I hear he went there to give our athletes the much needed moral support.
Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Many people were questioning the rationale behind Kgathi’s presence at the Olympics but knowing truly well that I too would have grabbed that opportunity with both hands were I in his position, I find the ‘holiday’ pretty in order. I mean really, who wouldn’t grab the opportunity to go on vacation in London when circumstances permit?
So like I already mentioned, I have no qualms with Kgathi’s ‘London holiday’. However, I do have a problem with how Kgathi behaved on arrival from London. It would seem after spending a few days in London, Kgathi came back feeling more like Prince Charles. His arrogance had reached dizzy heights. Not that the Prince is arrogant but simply because he seldom gets to account for his actions. Kgathi had completely forgotten he is accountable to us and not the other way round.
On arrival here, Kgathi rushed to parliament to brief fellow MPs about his time in London. From parliament he didn’t waste time as he skidded off to the BTV auditorium to share his London experience with local journalists. Both the parliament and media briefings were the brainchild of Kgathi himself. I could see how on top of the world he felt as he told of how he phoned from Qatar on his way here instructing his Permanent Secretary to organise the two briefing sessions. It would appear Minister Kgathi had expected MPs and journalists to perhaps ask him about the magnificent Heathrow Airport or if he had met the Spice Girls and never about our athletes.
I mean, how else do you explain the Minister’s inability to provide answers to questions thrown at him by MPs and journalists on issues concerning our athletes in London? He was visibly irritated by pertinent questions that many of us had hoped to get answers on and this is why I have a feeling the minister had hoped the briefings would not invite questions relating to our athletes in London.
Kgathi was quick to dismiss media reports on the absence of Amantle Montsho’s personal trainer.
What surprised me though is, Kgathi made it clear he was never briefed on the issue of Amantle’s coach yet he found it proper to dismiss the reports as baseless. You see, for now I don’t want to dwell on the impact that the coach’s absence had on Amantle’s performance. I just want to focus on the way the minister handled the whole issue. If Minister Kgathi’s public relations acumen was up to scratch, all he could have done or rather said, was to acknowledge the mishap and apologise or promise to interrogate the matter further. For him to blame the media for asking Amantle about her coach really smacks of ignorance coupled with arrogance.
As a former sports administrator, Kgathi ought to know the essence of having Amantle’s coach by her side at such important events as the Olympics. Kgathi also did not take kindly to a simple question that sought to find out whether it was true he had travelled with his family to London. Some of his puppets feel the question was too personal.
I will never understand Batswana.
Here the journalist just wanted to know whether the minister travelled with his family and, if so, were their expenses paid for by Batswana and why it was necessary for us to pay for the minister’s ‘family vacation’ and some people feel we don’t deserve to know such information.
And just when we thought Kgathi’s ‘Mr Bean’ behaviour was over, he goes on to do the unthinkable the following day.
Nigel Amos writes Botswana’s Olympics history and when phoned for his comment, the minister tells a journalist that he is sleeping and can’t comment.
Olympics medals have eluded us for blooming thirty years and Amos has ended the medal drought yet the minister is feeling too sleepy to share in the excitement with the nation through just one sentence. The minister was not asked to get out of his blankets and go brush his teeth before commenting and as such he could have just made his comment in the warm comfort of his blankets.
The fact that he managed to answer the phone shows he was not dead asleep.
I would have understood had the minister not picked up and later told the journalist that he was asleep at the time of the call. My friend MacDonald Peloetletse was among the first to call and condemn the radio station for calling the minister early in the morning. He even politicised the whole issue by saying being the ruling party doesn’t mean they shouldn’t sleep.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement.
Some Batswana phoned ridiculing the poor journalist who, in all honesty, phoned the minister in good faith expecting to find him in good spirits but unfortunately for him, it seemed the minister had woken up on the wrong side of his bed.
All that the journalist wanted to prove to the minister was that journalists are not only after negative stories. This was a positive story which will take, at the least, four years to repeat and the minister had no problem turning down such a morning glory.
And how ironic that all our three athletes who competed in the presence of the minister failed to get medals while Nigel Amos, without Kgathi’s purported moral support, managed to win a medal. Did the minister’s presence put the whammy on the other three athletes?