The hashtag #NathiMustGo dominated social media this past week after artists from the theatre, dance and entertainment industries called for the Minister of Arts and Culture’s head!

South African artists are fed up, and if this wasn’t already visible, it became clearer than ever this week after a number of local actors, theatre professionals, dancers and creatives joined forces to launch a petition aptly named #NathiMustGo.

The aim of the petition was simple: “to have Nathi Mthethwa relieved of his duties as the minister of Arts and Culture in South Africa.”

This comes after the minister shared a tone-deaf tweet about the state of theatre in South Africa.

Nathi Mthethwa fails to read the room

The tension between South Africa’s artists and the Department arts and culture has been brewing for some time. Artists have been calling for more support, the department has had other priorities it may seem.

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The timing of Nathi Mthetwa’s tweet, which read “South African theatre is alive and well,” , would probably have rubbed social media the wrong way on any given day of his latest tenure as minister (which began in 2019). But to read that tweet on the back of a difficult year for the theatre industry, following a lack of government support during the national lockdown, felt like a slap in the face for many creatives.

 

As a result, the minister found himself facing strong backlash for his tone-deafness, and it didn’t take long for that anger to turn into something more constructive as the hashtag #NathiMustGo sparked a petition to have him removed from his office.

One of the leading voices in the movement is poet and activist, Lebogang Mashile, who represented the views of many frustrated artists in modern-day South Africa. She called for support when she wrote, “A petition, drafted by artists, requesting the removal of the Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture following his inability to deal with how COVID has impacted our sector. ”

Nathi Mthethwa apologises for ill-informed Tweet

Reacting quickly to the trend, Nathi Mthethwa through his spokesperson, Masechaba Ndlovu, released a statement that sought to apologise and immediately retract. the minister’s words. The apology read, “The minister of sport, arts and culture wishes to convey his heartfelt remorse for the tweet regarding theatre in SA. More so, in light of the fact that the creative sector has been the hardest hit by the pandemic. To date, the theatre industry has played an invaluable role in driving social cohesion, by bringing crucial messages to ensure that our history is not forgotten and that we continue to educate and empower our nation.”

It hasn’t been a good start to the year for Nathi Mthethwa and Masechaba Ndlovu’s office after relations between their department and the artists of South Africa grew strained in 2020. Do you think that Nathi Mthethwa will be able to keep his post as Minister?