A report in the Citizen of 19th April 2006 illustrates a distasteful example which may point to a deeper malaise. Limpopo premier Sello Moloto clearly believes that if he takes a leaf out of the diary of Thabo Mbeki, he might also one day rise to significant heights in SA politics. The Prez was notorious in his first term, for arriving late at events. To the extent that no less an eminence grise than Nelson Mandela upbraided him publicly for his tardiness on more than one occasion.
The issue with Moloto concerns national minister of Correctional Services, Ngconde Balfour’s recent visit to a Polokwane prison. To cut a long story short, Moloto has developed a reputation for being up to two hours late for functions and engagements. He kept Balfour waiting for so long that the latter had to re-schedule other appointments to keep his diary on track.
The disingenuous comment from Moloto’s spokesperson, one Lucky Nchabaleng, was that if Balfour is visiting Moloto’s province, Moloto ‘takes precedence’ (in political protocol hierarchy/status terms). Eish! His piece de resistance: ‘The premier may be late if he wants to, it is his province.’ It is? I thought he was a public servant reporting ultimately to we tax payers who pay his inflated salary? Would he also claim ‘precedence’ over President Mbeki one wonders? Mind you, if they were both late, their meeting would be quite well co-ordinated! 😉 More seriously this behaviour smacks of arrogance, insensitivity or disrespect. You choose. Whichever, it says clearly, ‘You don’t matter.’
Not only should our elected officials make better use of their time addressing the issues that plague our growing nation, there should be no place for such egotistical behaviour. The fact that Moloto was elected to the post of premier should humble him. He should start and end his day very much aware of his responsibilities to the people he serves. Instead we see rampant politicking, manoeuvring and posturing as officials like Moloto get far too caught up in their own self-importance.
I agree with Simpkins when he says that this “the sort of ego-driven behaviour that minister of provincial and local government Sydney Mufamadi or President Mbeki should rein in – immediately.”