Esethu Hasane, spokesperson for Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, called in to Radio 702 on Wednesday morning to confront host Redi Tlhabi for her comments about government being anti-intellectual, where “dumber” is “better”.
Hasane told Tlhabi he had found her comments offensive, as he described himself as young, educated and working in government.
“I don’t think the government I work for is anti-intellectual. There are many people who are brilliant at what they do, who were appointed by the president. I don’t know if you think the president is dumb or if the ministers he appoints are dumb, but I thought that was out of line,” Hasane said.
But Tlhabi refused to back down and clarified her comments, saying she believed President Jacob Zuma did not take intellectual vigour seriously enough.
She referred to a statement Zuma made about “clever blacks” in 2012 as another example of his little regard for intellectualism.
She further pointed to comments he made in December while speaking in Mpumalanga: “(Don’t) pay attention to people who talk too much on television. The educated people who think they are clever.”
“I feel very sorry for you if your only tool to discernment and interpretation is what people literally mean. I can sit here and say: don’t ask questions or ignore people who ask questions. The meaning is the same. If you are waiting for the president to issue an instruction to say that people must not ask questions, then good luck to you,” Tlhabi continued.
Hasane also asked her why she had not replied to his post sent to her on Twitter, to which she firmly replied she did not have to answer tweets she did not feel deserved a response.