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KENNETH MOKGATLHE | Why Malema’s stance on Springboks is problematic

Transformation is necessary but should not be rushed

EFF leader Julius Malema addressed supporters in Gauteng on Sunday. File photo.
EFF leader Julius Malema addressed supporters in Gauteng on Sunday. File photo.

It is a common cause that white people are still held responsible for the current sufferings of black people as a result of colonialism and apartheid in SA.

It is not surprising that the Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema criticised the country’s rugby team, the Springboks, accusing it of representing apartheid. His politics is premised on hatred, division and race. 

It is equally important to remember that our state-owned entities (SOEs) collapsed as a result of rushed “transformation” and this applied to all government functionaries including the security agencies.

We rushed to replace competent government officials with incompetent black individuals who ran our government agencies to the ground.

Transformation should happen to represent the country’s demographics but the process should not be rushed wherein we lose experienced personnel who are able to transfer skills to the new cream.

Getting rid of the skillful people who spent years in different government departments would be tantamount to collapsing the same agencies. 

As someone who was born and grew up in one of the Bantustan states, Bophuthatswana, I believe that some of the projects or programmes, which worked well were not supposed to be scrapped in the name of transformation.

We had nursing, teaching, agricultural and mining colleges run by the government which produced a pull of skillful employees who contributed enormously to our economy.

Malema’s stance is problematic as he is indirectly ordering those in charge of our rugby team to do away with the established organisational culture as well as experienced white players and officials.

He knows very well that it is the black people who are presiding over state affairs and are legislated to ensure that rugby, cricket and other sporting codes are present in our rural and township schools.

There is not a single public school situated in the villages in the North West that have identified cricket or rugby as one of the sports they cherish and play.

I started seeing black people playing rugby at the University of Limpopo when I was doing my first year. We all know that the government is not doing anything to develop all sporting codes including soccer in our schools. It would be irresponsible to dismiss experienced white players and field clueless black folks on the field, it would be similar to what we did to our SOEs and government departments.

White officials who were “dismissed” in the post-1994 on the transformation card went on to use their years of experience and passion to create private entities to compete with their former employer, the government. They went on to contribute and create telecom companies, logistics, mining and banking companies, etc. The state lost a crème de la crème by letting go of these skills that the country so much needed because we were so obsessed with transformation.

The national rugby team won the 2023 Rugby World Cup, as a member of parliament, Malema was supposed to lead us by displaying a heightened level of patriotism, however he decided to go his way to discredit the efforts shown by true countrymen who offered something special to cherish to desperate people who lost hope due to uninspiring political leadership we have been subjected to.

I was impressed listen to Springboks’ captain, Siya Kolisi, who does not only lead in the field, when he told President Cyril Ramaphosa to bring about change in the government to improve the lives of the people in SA. That is the kind of leadership we need in SA, people who bring about positivity in dire situations like we are facing currently.

The coming together of citizens, especially sports fanatics under the theme #StrongerTogether threatens the growth of the EFF and Malema’s popularity. That is so because the unity and social cohesion goes against the subtle ideological foundation of the party, which was built to confront “white supremacy” or “white monopoly capital”.


  • Kenneth Mokgatlhe is a writer and analyst

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