Paranoia is a place in Durban

2014-07-21 14:14

Saturday. The Croc and I are up bright and early. Impolitely so, if you ask me, but we don’t have a choice. The Commander in Chief is in town so that’s that.

We land at Durban’s International Convention Centre. We’re a bit late for the 8am kick-off on the programme but we figure we’re OK. These things have a way of starting late.

We’ve already sorted out the accreditation side of things. We’ve given the Presidency and GCIS our details the day before – for the five millionth time.

I’ve always wondered why these cats want our details every time we do a gig with them. Either they smoke more herb than me and have really bad short-term memories or they’re practising for when Hlaudi issues us licences.

Or the staff turnover is a little high at the National Intelligence Agency and they leave with their laptops. Whatever the reason, it’s a bit weird, but we’re in and out of there in a matter of minutes.

That was Friday evening. This is Saturday morning.

We hit the venue where the CiC’s gonna be unveiling a new plan to make government work. It’s not a bad idea – working out how to get people to do what we pay them to do. Sorry, that’s cynical.

We’re here for Operation Phakisa. Operation Phakisa is about getting government and everybody else into a team and locking them in a room for five weeks.

They stay off Facebook and identify what needs to be done, what’s stopping it from being done and what needs to be done to sort problems out.

They then do what they’ve planned to do. It’s apparently borrowed from the Malaysian Big Fast Results Methodology (the Presidency’s caps, not mine) and was discovered by the CiC when he was there last August.

Sounds good.

We head for the metal detector outside the venue. The cats in the bad suits stop us, accreditation or no accreditation. We’re handed over to our minder.

She whisks us off and in a matter of minutes we’re in this underground holding area. Like a bunker, but with none of the nice bits. There’s no windows, no video link to what’s going on inside. At least there’s no picture of Hlaudi on the wall.

Time passes. I start to panic. The Croc’s looking nervous. The Croc’s been ultra paranoid since he shot those aerial pictures of the CiC’s hacienda. The Croc imagines SANDF choppers buzzing his flat. At least, he thinks he’s imagining them.

I’m told to sit. The Croc and the TV shooters are led away. I’m scared and relieved at the same time. Rather you than me and all that. Sorry bra.

Time passes. I try not to think about soundproofing. Or silenced handguns. Or piano-wire garrottes.

There are no screams or gunshots. I start getting bored. I start wishing I hadn’t stopped smoking cigarettes.

The handler comes back. She leads us upstairs, not to the underground parking lot. We’re in the clear.

We’re ushered back to the metal detector and into a banquet room. The Croc and the other shooters are smoking outside. We’re ushered to a table. There’s nobody here. Strictly bodyguards and handlers. And the SAPS KZN band. Who are really bad, apart from the saxophonist.

Turns out the CiC and everybody else is next door. We’re about as welcome as Juju. Somebody’s failed to tell us that the early kick-off was for a photo call that never really was and that we should have stayed in bed.

We hang about and do what we do best – wait for the CiC. They start serving the butternut soup from the lunch that’s meant to come after the day’s event, which hasn’t started yet. The soup’s crap.

The room fills up slower than the stadium for an AmaZulu fixture. The suits trickle in in small groups. The Cabinet honchos arrive. Everybody stands up. Nobody says or does anything. I’m wondering what’s going on and I realise they’re also waiting for the CiC.

The milling around continues. The CiC arrives. Everybody kicks into action. The programme starts. Everybody’s praises the boss. The band murders Loliwe.

Then it’s the CiC’s turn. The CiC’s cruises through his delivery. It’s plausible stuff. I hope it works.

The CiC wraps up. We hit the door as soon as he I-thank-you-s. It’s not just a deadline thing. Neither of us wants to sit through an awful second course. Or that SAPS band.

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