Selinyane versus Robot Q

Selinyane versus Robot Q

IT must be a terrible time for DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo. Every morning he has to scrounge around for something to criticise about the government and if he doesn’t find any he will clutch at anything or simply manufacture something.

It’s not that there isn’t much to disparage about this government. Look closely and you will see a bountiful of shenanigans to bellow about. This government has been bungling and bumbling for months. Some of its blunders are as naked as a pig’s behind while some are a bit subtle. That is the nature of government.

Qoo’s problem is that he has a huge handicap: he lacks both the critical mind and the oratory skills to get his message across. That’s the disadvantage of almost all spokespersons elected rather than appointed. For Qoo waffling is a way of fulfilling his political mandate. He doesn’t have to worry about the substance of what he says because he was not hired. He doesn’t have to be competent at it because competence is not what got him elected in the first place.

So the next time you hear Qoo prating you should know that the man is not living up to any standard or trying to add value to the national discourse. He is just a robot programmed to open its mouth and say anything, including a lot of gibberish, at set intervals.

His robot-like-personality was on brazen display when Qoo was switched on to say something about Nthakeng Selinyane’s appointment as government spokesperson.

Our pliable reporters galloped to the press conference to receive what is now a weekly dosage of claptrap from the opposition. They found Qoo switched on and ready to spray some balderdash at them.

Robot Q opened his mouth right on cue and began telling a scattered story. It was difficult to pinpoint what had got his goat in the matter at hand. A week later it remains unclear whether he was saying Selinyane should not have been appointed or that his appointment is unnecessary. Due to her intolerance for gobbledygook Muckraker left the press conference before Robot Q was switched off. Colleagues however tell her that Robot Q did not say much of substance after she left. They say the speech veered off the road, meandered through dongas and clambered a few mountains before it fizzled out with a whimper somewhere near Mohale Dam.

Still Robot Q felt good about himself as he wiped the sweat induced by running his mouth for too long. Someone at the high table had the wisdom to switch on the “smile” button and Robot Q grinned so wide that his mouth was about to crack.

“There is still a spokesperson, Thesele ’Maseribane (Communications Minister),” Robot Q said.

He had a point but he quickly tripped himself with what he said next. “We are just wondering if there was no other young energetic Mosotho to hold the position instead of Nthakeng Selinyane.”

So in one breath Robot Q was saying the appointment was wrong because there is already a spokesperson and that the appointment is necessary but the appointee is too old and lacks zest.

But Robot Q was not done entangling himself in the web of his own confusion.  “They said Selinyane is going to work in the premises of government secretary which is surprising because he is not going to be a private secretary or prime minister’s spokesman either,” he said.

Whoever programmed Robot Q deserves a thunderous slap. Where Selinyane has an office in relation to his responsibilities matters only to novices like Robot Q. Selinyane can have an office in a matekoane field in Mapoteng and still speak for the government.

It’s telling that in one press conference Robot Q managed to clutter his message, mutilate it with contradictory statements and rendered it useless by trying to tie together unconnected issues. That should not surprise those who understand Robot Q.

You see, Robot Q could not claim that Selinyane was not appointed on merit because that would have opened a can of worms. Many will recall that the Size Two government was on its last legs when Robot Q became Communications Minister. It was stunning because Robot Q was still a nonentity trying to grope his way out of political wilderness.

Even goats in his village and rats in his yard were still getting used to the idea that he is spokesperson of the ruling party. Robot Q kept pinching himself and marveling at his good fortune, wondering whether he had landed the job or the job had landed on him (Muckraker will deal with that in a jiffy).

Robot Q would not dare bring up competence in Selinyane’s case because he knows his own appointment will not stand the same scrutiny. There are several reasons why Robot Q was appointed and all of them have nothing to do with acumen or competency. The first is that he happened to be one of the few MPs who remained in Size Two’s corner when the party was crumbling.

The DC had been reduced from a mansion to a shack in just a few weeks and the landlord was facing isolation. Second, Robot Q was one of the few people eager to become a minister even when it was clear the government would not last even a sheep’s pregnancy. Mofokeng (hare) was facing a pack of hungry German Shepherds.

And Mokola (the crocodile) was waiting for poor hare at the watering hole called elections. Third, he was the only person Size Two could trust to speak for the government because he would not deviate much from what the masters had dictated to him. He was an empty vessel ready to be stuffed with propaganda.

The fourth reason is that Robot Q was not going to bother his boss with thoughts of his own because he was known to do very little thinking of his own. He has zero originality. He was a minister who did not know whether he was responsible for communication or communications. He was a minister of science who needed two hours to explain the difference between a beaker and a buret.

The fifth reason is probably the most important. There is speculation that Size Two did not intend to hand the job to Robot Q specifically. What happened, according to a rumour, is that when cornered Size Two climbed atop Moposo Building.

In his hands was a bucket full of small balls with ministerial positions marked on them. From the roof Size Two started unleashing each ball into Kingsway. Whoever was hit got the ministerial position on that ball. The Communications ball landed on Robot Q’s forehead as he was coming from the DC offices.

Eyewitnesses say he momentarily fainted. And when he came back to life he was sitting in Size Two’s office, a bandage on his forehead. When Size Two told him he was now the Minister of Communications Robot Q is said to have fainted again. The shock was more than he could bear. Not in his wildest dreams did he think he would be in cabinet one day. A miracle had happened and Robot Q had been stunned into unconsciousness.

“Why me, why? Why has this honour been bestowed upon a soul like me that cannot even spell its name under pressure,” he is reported to have mumbled as he staggered out of the office, still dazed by the impact of the ball and the effect of the news he had just received.  How he performed in the few months as a minister has never been a subject of much debate. Robot Q just fumbled endlessly until the government collapsed. He spent the first few weeks learning scientific terms.

A few days were spent on mastering the difference between 2G and 3G technology. Several hours went towards understanding how it came to be that he was hit by the ministerial ball in the first place. He had not understood all those things by the time he said “adios”.

He is one of those who did not regret much when their tenure was cut short. Instead of moaning about the projects he was about to implement he exclaimed: “Ah, damn! I knew this was not real.”

Robot Q however deserves some credit for keeping the debate about Selinyane’s appointment at its petty level. He might not be a thinker of note but he sure knows how to tip-toe his way around substantial issues. He knows the limitations of his mind and skill.

Now that we have explained the nauseating noises of Robot Q it is time to turn to Selinyane himself. He was magnanimous in his reaction to the brouhaha triggered by his appointment. He said he will try to do the job. It was clear he was not bothered about the allegations that a position had been created for him.

He also did not want to be drawn into the argument of whether he was the best man for the job or a beneficiary of the crumbs from the political table. For staying away from those matters Selinyane deserves some praises. Here is a man who knows that how and why he got a job are irritants that should be ignored with contempt.

He is not the first or last man to be jumped up into a concocted position. Positions are created every time. New ministries have been created and ministerial positions have been dished out. Until recently we did not have the ministries of development planning, social development and small businesses.

We did not have a deputy minister who is deputy to a deputy minister of a minister (this one is a miracle). To be fair, it’s not as if Selinyane is a hopeless case. He understands the politics of this country and knows a bit about the media. He might not be gifted with the writing skills of Muckraker (even cows in Mokhotlong are nodding to that) but at least he gets a message across.

Sometimes he is lost in his bombastic ways but there is no doubt that he is far better than all the ministers who have been pretending to be speaking for the government in recent years. Metsing was a boring and colourless character who could not even communicate direction to his home in Mahobong. Ask him how to get to Mahobong and Metsing would scratch his heard clasp his hand and look to the sky.

“O Molimo, ke tla re’ng? E ka ‘na e aba leboea.” (Oh God, what can I say? Maybe it’s in the north). Tseliso Mokhosi was a glum and irritable fellow with the personality of a stone. Letsatsi was a pompous chap who had the guts to complain when journalists called him during his dinner as if reporters were supposed to know when he is digging into his papa ka lepu at his house.

Despite being a pathetic reporter in his heydays Letsatsi would not miss an opportunity to lecture journalists on ethics, a subject very close to his heart yet very far from the grasp of his brain. He was also susceptible to bouts of silly dreams. At some point he grew so bigheaded that he wanted to close Facebook and Whatsapp as if they oozed from his Wasco tap in his home.

Even stray dogs in Thamae were disgusted at that nonsensical proposal. Muckraker spanked him until he came back to his senses and disowned that scheme. Mochoboroane was a decent man but he was too fast for his own good. Eventually he found himself dealing with a dogfight between two principal secretaries instead of communicating government policy.

Molapo was fine but his accent was too British to be understood by our journalists, most of whom did their secondary at St Sefate and St Fokol high schools where even dogs barked in deep Sesotho and English books were considered biting animals or germs that could cause a nasty rash. Maseribane hasn’t communicated a thing since he came in so Muckraker will spare him the rod. Qoo is still a joke.

Don’t bother about Qoo because it’s a notorious fact that he was just a robot and he remains so today.

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