From the Editor – Dave Charles
I was enjoying some of the bountiful fare on offer at the new Market at the Lifestyle Shopping Centre on Saturday when I bumped into friends who were obviously doing the same. They were accompanied by their daughter who is planning to study political science after she matriculates at the end of the year. While her parents, both of whom are professionals and achievers in their own right, would prefer her to study something with a more obvious financial reward opportunity at the end of the varsity rainbow, I think it’s a brilliant idea.
After all, political office can be enormously financially rewarding. Just look at the salaries our members of parliament are being paid. The individual MP package is now over a million rand per annum and there are some lovely perks that come with the territory too. Considering the number of social media threads showing MPs literally sleeping on the job, it definitely beats working for a living. Even ordinary ward councillors earn crazy money considering what they deliver in terms of promises made around election time.
I once heard a mental health professional expound on a concern that there is a disproportionately large number of politicians in South Africa who demonstrate certifiable psychopathic tendencies. While this is alarming, there is apparently a substantial body of evidence to back this up, but, not being qualified to analyse it, I shall simply leave that thought lying there for someone to trip over.
Staying with the political theme for a while, I attended an address by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Ballito last week. I have always been a fan of the Theatre of the Absurd – it harks back to my days as a student of Dramatic Art at Wits, shortly after completing a course of studies in History and Political Science. Who knew they went together so well…
But, I digress. The NDZ address was quite an experience. The event started fashionable late… 6pm for whenever …and the conference room in the Hampshire Hotel was full by around 7.30pm. For many who had gathered it was a kind of religious experience and the energetic acapella singing and rhythmic clapping created an electric atmosphere. And then… the anointed arrived… and the crowd went wild. Like an academic procession, the good doctor entered the room accompanied by a host of acolytes including local Ballito resident and spokesperson for the MK Veterans Association, Carl Niehaus who is making a spectacular comeback from a tear-stained, career-shredded political wilderness. Once they were all seated, the programme director made the first of a series of longwinded speeches culminating in a rambling address by the doctor.
But it was her close protection agents who I was most keenly aware of. I had given up my seat towards the back of the room to an elderly lady, and was now forced to stand for the duration of the proceedings. To avoid obscuring anyone’s view, I had moved closer to the front of the room and positioned myself in front of a pillar that I could lean on if things dragged on – and drag on they did. I suppose that to bodyguards looking out for potential threats, I fitted the bill – an agent of white monopoly capital waiting for my chance to strike…
Every time I shifted my balance they stiffened…and once, when I reached for the cell phone in my pocket, their reaction left me in no doubt that if I made one wrong move I would be toast!
Luckily I got away unscathed and returned to my bubble wondering where this will all lead – I love our country deeply and would like to believe that as a nation we are on course for a brighter future. Do I believe that Nkosazana has the answer to our collective prayers? I am certainly not going to hold my breath. I am afraid that I have little faith in politicians across the spectrum and if we are going to reclaim our dignity as a nation, it’s going to be through the actions and determination of enlightened people doing the heavy lifting.
As much as I enjoy Theatre of the Absurd, this play has become distasteful and the audience is heading for the doors in droves.
Time to bring on the dancing horses…
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