Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has described Gareth Cliff’s legal action against M-Net as absurd and offered the broadcaster some punny advice on how to respond.
“M-Net should tell him to go jump over his surname,” Mbalula tweeted earlier on Tuesday afternoon.
While many had found humour in the minister’s tweet, with some hailing him the “King of Punchlines” not everyone got the joke.
One Twitter user said, “@MbalulaFikile How exactly does one jump “over” a cliff???? #grammar. Maybe you should look into that before trying to insult!”
Cliff has filed an urgent interdict with the High Court in Johannesburg, demanding that M-Net immediately reinstate him in his job as one of the SA Idols judges, retract their “hurtful remarks” against him and pay him R25 million for booting him off the show. R5 million of that is for defamation of character.
Cliff was excluded from the show after he took to Twitter to share his comments about a racist Facebook post by realtor, Penny Sparrow, who had labeled black people as monkeys, claiming they overpopulated and littered the beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast on New Year’s Day.
Cliff came under fire after he retweeted a poll that asked if racist social media posts should be treated as criminal acts and wrote, “People really don’t understand free speech at all”.
On Tuesday, papers filed by Cliff suggested that M-Net did not treat him in the same manner in which it treated other judges who had courted controversy.
He said Unathi Msengana had posted a tweet containing a profanity which also caused uproar, yet she was still an Idols SA judge. The same happened with Somizi Mhlongo, also an Idols SA judge, when he posted a “racist” comment on Facebook.
Last week, when news of Cliff’s axing broke, Mbalula took to Twitter to accuse Cliff of being racist.
“Gareth Cliff has a long history of spewing racism it finally caught up with him. Here he insults Former Health Min,” tweeted Mbalula.