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We don’t expect rocket science from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula but even by his low standards, his claim this week that South Africa is bordered by three oceans was a new nadir.
Announcing a transport department “policy review for economic growth, transformation, and job creation” (political buzzwords du jour), Mbaks tweeted that South Africa is a maritime nation surrounded by three oceans.
When it was pointed out that only the Indian and Atlantic Oceans actually wash our shores, Mbaks quickly clarified that, in terms of international law our “sealand” (the word actually refers to an offshore platform in the North Sea) includes part of the southern ocean which goes down to Antarctica.
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While the tweets were mildly amusing, they spoke to a broader failing of government communication.
Despite the millions paid to arrogant and often incompetent spokespersons, government splashes out many more millions on public relations companies and advertising agencies to polish their image.
Does “Digital Vibes” ring any bells? In the process, very little real, effective, communication is done with ordinary citizens.
Because it is such a nebulous area, government communications has become a great feeding trough for the incompetent and the venal.
Sometimes, the messengers do need to be shot, metaphorically speaking.