ANC MK Fikile Mbalula

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula. Image: @MbalulaFikile

Fikile Mbalula roasted after criticising racial make-up of Proteas

Fikile Mbalula has faced a backlash after questioning the selection of just one black African player in the Proteas’ T20 World Cup squad.

ANC MK Fikile Mbalula

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula. Image: @MbalulaFikile

ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula, who previously served as South Africa’s sports minister, has questioned the lack of ‘fair representation’ in the Proteas’ latest squad.

It comes after Proteas limited-overs coach Rob Walter unveiled the Proteas squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup last month.

With former captain Temba Bavuma and Lungi Ngidi not included in the main 15-man group, it meant Kagiso Rabada was also the only black African player representing South Africa. The fact that only six players of colour were included – the lowest number in a Proteas squad for an ICC event since 2016 – has also raised some eyebrows.

On Monday, Mbalula took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice his opinion, calling the selection a “reversal of the gains of transformation”.

“Only 1 African player selected in the Proteas Team for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024 Team,” Tweeted Mbalula, whose last job in government was as minister of transport, and currently serves as the Secretary-General of the ANC.

“Definitely a reversal of the gains of transformation and doesn’t reflect fair representation of all South Africans in the national cricket team.”

Fikile Mbalula taken to task in the comments section of his Proteas-related post

Responding to Mbalula’s comment, though, his comments section was filled with a widespread backlash, with many suggesting he should leave politics out of sport.

Despite the variety of opinions, the racial makeup of the squad was still flagged as a ‘concern’ that has been acknowledged by CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki.

“If there aren’t enough black players raising their hands at domestic level, there won’t be enough to get through to the national team,” he told News24.

“It’s a concern that we’re taking a team to the World Cup with only one black African player, and in conjunction with the director of cricket [Enoch Nkwe], there were cricket reasons.

“The Proteas’ [transformation] targets aren’t based on the numbers they send to tournaments, but the numbers are based on how they average over a season.”

Squad not seen to be racially ‘representative’ of South Africa

Meanwhile, the coach himself addressed this topic at the team’s press conference last month.

“My number one imperative is to create a winning Proteas team,” Walter commented when asked to explain the racial make-up of the squad.

“In order to do that I have to pick the best team that has the best chance of doing that…

“The system needs to really up the ante so that in six months, 12 months or in two years’ time, in particular when we reach the 2027 World Cup at home, the demographics and representation in our team starts to look a bit different,” he added.

“Outside of the World Cup, we will continue… to grow our base of players to create international opportunities for players to pit their skills at a higher level and make sure we have bought in on delivering a process that is going to change what our team looks like going forward.”


Aiden Markram will lead the side in what will be his first World Cup assignment since being named T20 International (T20I) captain.

Aiden Markram (captain, Momentum Multiply Titans), Ottniel Baartman (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Gerald Coetzee (Momentum Multiply Titans), Quinton de Kock (Momentum Multiply Titans), Bjorn Fortuin (DP World Lions), Reeza Hendricks (DP World Lions), Marco Jansen (Dafabet Warriors), Heinrich Klaasen (Momentum Multiply Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), David Miller (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Anrich Nortje (Dafabet Warriors), Kagiso Rabada (DP World Lions) Ryan Rickelton (DP World Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Momentum Multiply Titans) and Tristan Stubbs (Dafabet Warriors).

Travelling Reserves

Nandre Burger (World Sports Betting Western Province) and Lungi Ngidi (Momentum Multiply Titans)

Meanwhile, CSA has unveiled the Proteas kit for the T20 World Cup. It is available for pre-order.