Anil spinning around hula 'Hoops'
What is it about ministers of sport and taxpayers' money that makes them go so berserk? Watching Anil Roberts twist and turn on the "Lie to Me" morning talk show tour this week, in defence of former NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal who helped unveil the "Hoops for Life" programme, and listening to him berate the hosts while trying to justify and distract the population as to "who spent how much and why" to bring Shaq here was such an amazing experience in political double-speak and so much déjà vu that it was almost too much to take.
Reminiscent of his predecessor Gary Hunt's arrogant postulation that you could not put a price on national pride in defence of his (then) two-million-dollar expenditure on a flag, Anil seems to have decided that if Hunt could get away with such a bold-faced misdirection, well, then he was prepared to be a Hunt, too. And he was prepared to be an even bigger Hunt than Gary because if Gary could spend two million on a nothing project, he would spend ten.
Sitting next to "Papa Doc Amin" Warner on the set of every television talk show that would agree to tolerate the barrage of misdirection and deflection that these two are so good at, the only thing he (Anil) did not do was get up out of his seat and put the host in a neck-lock until they agreed to agree that he was right.
Looking more like two cartoon characters than respectable Government ministers, the verbose and animated tag team of Anil "No-Longer-Cop-Not-Yet-UNC" Roberts and Warner seemed willing to take on all comers who dared question the spending of ten, 11, 12, even 25 million of taxpayers' dollars on the absolute solution to the scourge of crime, and humiliated their predecessors for not realising that basketball was the solution all along.
For his part, Warner seemed relieved to be in a discussion that did not deal with pesky issues like human rights, abuse of power, illegal acts by Government ministers and highways of any kind, and settled into the role of Anil's chief defender, which seemed to embolden the vociferous Roberts even further (if such a thing is possible) and caused him to almost come unglued with glee.
The fact of the matter is projects like these, while sounding good on paper, do nothing in terms of delivering real results, simply because the problems that lie at the heart of many of the negatives or anti-social choices made by people in these depressed communities are inextricably linked to poverty, and until that is addressed, all the shiny distractions in the world would at best be a salve rather than a cure.
The people in these communities need real leadership from their Government not gimmicks and games, and the public rejection of this clumsy attempt at "handling" this difficult situation demonstrates quite clearly that for all their desperation, the people are aware enough to know that while they are poor and in need of help, foreign-used bells and whistles will do nothing of substance for them in the long run.
Add to all this the fact that in less than seven days, at least three Cabinet ministers have weighed in on this issue with three different versions as to the source of funds and costs for the project. One is left to wonder what exactly is going on here. Like with that now analogous two-million-dollar flag that never left the public's mind until Gary was out of a job, perhaps Anil, too, may one day soon learn the real cost of national pride.
Phillip Edward Alexander