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Pitso Mosimane | Instant Intolerance

Instant Intolerance

by Unathi Kondile / 08.06.2012

“Pitso. You’re fired! How anyone can draw against Ethiopia is beyond beyond. Go! Voetsek!” are probably the words echoed in some closed roomed in the South African Football Association (SAFA) building. Ironically, “Safa” means “we’re dying” in Xhosa. I can just imagine working there. Being axed takes on a whole new meaning. Safa fired me!

As it dawns on me that we have fired our latest Bafana Bafana coach, Pitso Mosimane, I can’t help thinking that we as a country have developed a particular penchant for purging problems precociously.

We fire our problems away, almost instantly, with the exact same persistence of a toddler in a supermarket when it comes to making demands like “I want that chocolate now mommy!”

That’s us! “Bafana Bafana coach must go now mommy!”

This is not surprising. We fail to surprise ourselves these days. If we don’t like something or someone we ensure that we get them fired. Surprise, surprise.

If we are unhappy about service delivery – we destroy property and render any other functioning services functionless. If we are unhappy about a president – say President Mbeki – we ensure he gets fired. Replace him with another president we are unlikely to be happy with. If we are unhappy about the Springbok coach – say Pieter de Villiers – we ensure he gets fired. Then replace him with another coach we are unlikely to be unhappy with. If we are unhappy with our police commissioner – say Jackie Selebi – we ensure he gets fired, arrested even. Replace him with another commissioner, like Bheki Cele, whom we’ve already fired.

If you catch my drift then I suspect that continuing with this list of “if-we-are-unhappy” might lead to unhappiness. Let me get rid of this train of thought immediately.

Now seriously comrades, we have somehow become a very intolerant society. One that thrives on getting rid of things instantly. One that thrives on our immediate whims being pacified instantly. Years ago this was called instant gratification but today, as I type here, I wonder if gratification hasn’t been replaced with intolerance. An instant intolerance.

Our capacity to be patient, to listen to one another and explore matters in depth seems to have worn out. We no longer tediously drive through information highways. We just fly over them. Picking out whatever can lead us to our next fix of “unhappy”.

Here’s the thing with unhappiness:

If we are unhappy with 11 men playing football on a field why don’t we fire them? Instead of firing a man who was technically not on the field? Forget the whole ‘leader must take the blame’ mantra for a bit and you’ll realize who the real slackers are.

If we are unhappy with the president of the country why don’t we blame ourselves for being incompetent citizens who fail to hold government accountable?

Damn! There I go with the “if-we-are-unhappy” again.

The problem is that we are not addressing the problems. We skirt our problems. Find someone else to blame, get that person fired, replace them, get the replacement fired, replace the replacement, until what?

*Image © Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu.

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  1. kza says:

    Fire or ban! That’s the new mantra.

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  2. not the answer says:

    why don’t people resign anymore?, when the penny drops and they realize that they don’t have what it takes, cannot produce the goods, have put themselves into a compromised position through bad choices- why don’t they walk away?

    why can’t they feel responsible to these positions of trust that carry the expectation of so many and when they have the self realization that they are not able to perform to the high standards that are required as national representatives, why don’t they walk away?

    all the people mentioned in the article above have been employed through contracts that have highly specific performance clauses or job descriptions and if they fall outside of this, they have not met their contractual obligations and their contracts are terminated-simple. ‘firing’ does not have to inherently carry shame, intolerance, humiliation. it is not a ‘firing’ squad, their jobs have been terminated because they have not performed their job description.

    the real question that needs to be asked here is- why has South Africa had such a poorly performing national soccer side for so long?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    One word: Accountability.
    The buck must stop somewhere; and that’s with the guy who accepts the (very) large salary to produce results. He wasn’t employed – or paid – to fail.
    Just because a large number of authoritative figures in our society lack the self respect to admit that they have not preformed to the levels at which they undertook to perform or admit that they are in the wrong does not mean we should retain the encumbant purely because he or she is the encumbant.
    Thabo Mbeki: Trusted with leading policy formulation to the benefit of the poorest of the poor. Through a stuborn, dogmatic and blinkered refusal to accept proven science he was the direct cause of the death of thousands of children. Should he have been allowed to retain his position purely because he was appointed to it in the first place.
    Jackie Selebi: Entrusted with leading the police service and the country’s effort to fight crime, he is found guilty of corrupt dealings with a member of the criminal underworld. According to your logic, he ought to have stayed in his job because he was appointed to it.
    Travelgate parliamentarians – guilty of defrauding the very institution which they took an oath to serve. Rather than doing the honourable thing and resigning, parliament buys them out of their trouble and allows them to continue to hold public office, because … they were appointed to the positions which they abused.
    Sports coaches – If you sell youself as being able to deliver results and take a generous salary for undertaking to do so, can you blame the sporting public, who rely on your ability to produce the goods, for wanting to get rid of you if you can’t do the very thing you are paid for … despite your own conviction that you should retain your job and your salary because, well, someone gave both of hem to you in he firs place?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    And one of the things that the coach is hired to do is to make sure that the 11 men on the field are not slackers. If they slack off, he fires them.
    The players are paid to play football. The coach is not paid to play football; he is paid to coach.
    If the players do not play well they should be fired. If the coach does no coach well, he should be fired.
    Or we could just play primary school soccer, where everyone gets a turn … to be fair. The coaching job could then rotate amongst the dads.

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  5. James Francis says:

    This column makes some broad links of logic. Mbeki being pushed out of power is not the same as a coach being fired. The one happened through the political shenanigans that tend to exclude most of the people in this country. In contrast, coaches are fired with frequency all over the world.

    The author is shoehorning events into a format that aligns with their opinion. But they fail to substantiate their opinion, instead simply evoking the sentiment with vague examples that, when taken on proper context, have little to do with a matter of intolerance and much more with the general machinations of politics and sports.

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