Mbalula’s foundation looks like an ego trip

2012-07-08 11:02

Foundations are normally founded in the names of the people who have made sacrifices for and contributed to a society’s struggles and development, and are normally funded by donors.

Think Gandhi, Tutu and Mandela; think Luthuli and Biko; think the more recent Andrew Mlangeni Foundation, which honours the Rivonia Trialist and veteran ANC MP.

In other instances, of course, foundations are started and funded by people with lots of money, such
as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which invests millions in health research. Locally, there is the Motsepe Foundation.

It is no secret Patrice Motsepe is a benefactor of the governing ANC and in 2010 he committed to give R10 million to the Jacob Zuma Foundation over five years to assist the poor with housing, education and clothes.

Now Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has launched a foundation in his own name. This foundation, we are told, will be dedicated to “developing, nurturing and uplifting young women through raising their social values, economic empowerment and education”.

Some critics may be snorting, as Mbalula was in the news not too long ago for allegedly impregnating a young socialite and asking her to terminate the pregnancy. Mbalula apologised to his wife, family and the South African public for his error in judgement in getting involved in a “one-night stand”.

Mbalula is credited, and rightly so, for bringing new energy to the sports portfolio. Recently, in his budget speech, he also revealed his ministry’s plan to kick new life into the long-neglected matter of school sport. And last Friday we saw the first meeting of another Mbalula initiative – his committee of elders on transformation in sport.

It strikes one then that Mbalula did not choose to start a foundation in the name of any black sporting legends, a struggle hero or a community leader – or his parents, for that matter. No, it is to be named after himself.

He wants to create his own legacy while still in political office.

Question one: What made him decide on the focus for his foundation, welcome as it might be?
Did he consider the number of other foundations, institutes and projects with a similar focus on young women?

Why not start a foundation for the “developing, nurturing and uplifting (of) young (men) through raising their social values, economic empowerment and education”?

Question two: Where is the money going to come from? Mbalula’s own ministerial salary? From contributions made by comrades benefiting from state tenders or contracts? Or from corporate sponsoring of sporting events or teams?

One cannot but be left with a feeling that all this could possibly be more about the inflated sense of self-importance of a former ANC Youth League leader.

» Wyngaard is a Cape-based journalist and an independent news commentator

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