- Julius Malema called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.
- The EFF leader said Mthethwa was a factional appointment who benefitted from being Ramaphosa's ally and was incapable of fulfilling his duties.
- Malema said Ramaphosa should appoint someone with an understanding of arts and culture and more focused on the department than ANC factional battles.
Firebrand EFF leader Julius Malema has accused Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa of being a failed factional appointment by ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa whose shortcomings were now being exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malema made these utterances on Thursday during his party's march to the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, where the red berets demanded the opening up of stadiums for supporters to attend sporting activities and festivals.
Addressing a sizeable group of EFF supporters, sports fans, and artists, Malema took a swipe at Mthethwa, saying "he [Mthethwa] is only appointed to his position because he is involved in factional politics of the ANC" and as such, the department had been left without a competent figurehead.
"There is no longer a functioning Department of Sports, Arts and Culture here, and we are calling upon Ramaphosa to please rectify this error and give us an energetic Minister of Sports who loves and truly understands the dynamics of sports, arts, and culture," said Malema.
The EFF leader went on to accuse Mthethwa of being lazy and disinterested in issues affecting arts and sports fans.
"The Minister of Sports must look like a sports person... how can you be a Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture when you can't even walk? A Minister of Sport must inspire confidence. A Minister of Sports must look like a sportsperson. He [Mthethwa] doesn't do sports, he doesn't do arts, and he doesn't do culture; he is only involved in factional politics of the ANC," said Malema.
Malema's accusations were dismissed by the department's director-general, Vusi Mkhize, who said the EFF's march and utterances "were a mere opportunistic undertaking".
"Everyone knows that the minister and government have, since October 2021, been working on a plan to ensure the return of spectators.
"Various sports bodies have communicated this [the plan], and all of them are fully aware that Minister Mthethwa had communicated with the various sporting bodies. That plan was affected, having a phased-in approach, but was placed on hold by the Omicron variant," said Mkhize.
He added that a new plan to return spectators to stadiums and festivals was nearing fruition and currently before the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
During his address, Malema questioned the pace at which the matter of opening up stadiums was being addressed.
He said when it suited the ANC government, regulations such as the curfew could be scrapped on a whim, but pressing matters such as reopening industries that were closely linked with stadiums being operational, were not being taken seriously.
"How was it possible that the ANC went to Peter Mokaba Stadium and held their 110th-anniversary celebrations with more than 2 000 people and then immediately after that they lock the gates to the stadiums and say no one must come in cause there is Covid-19? This Covid-19 knows ANC colours and does not infect the governing party. There is no dependence on science here; Ramaphosa is using corona to micromanage the political scene. He is scared of any political challenges, that's why he is closing stadiums," said the EFF leader.
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