Pillow talk that pays dividends

2010-05-06 09:56

By Khadija Bradlow

It’s high time we compiled an Nyama Register as an addendum to the Register of Members’ Interests.

It’s no secret that “real” South African men are fond of their

nyama. Whether it’s in Chatsworth, Dube or Constantia, enjoying the “pleasures

of the flesh” is something of a national pastime.

But it goes further than that.

Having nyama is a mark of status, of virility, of wealth.

Every man seems to

believe this – from the big shot city dude to the wizened khehla at the kraal

gate.

Meat and two veggies.

This is the dietary combo all men are said to

aspire towards, wherein both food groups co-exist peacefully side by side.

An

nyatsi (mistress) and makoti (wife) simultaneously – Nya-Ma.

With the Public Protector and Ethics ­Committee breathing down the

necks of ­perfidious parliamentarians, it has become more difficult for our

politicians to maintain secret business networks.

But the same does not go for the legions of wives and mistresses –

Nyamas – cutting deals and scoring tenders based on their political

connections.

Though not strictly illegal, this ­“pillow talk that pays” can

yield immense ­benefits for the ­ladies in question.

Look no further than our very own First ­Extended ­Family. ­Between

them, these ladies hold directorships across an array of sectors. Many of them,

as it has been pointed out, secured after u-Baba entered the race at

Polokwane.

The Ministerial Handbook only considers awarding contracts to an

Nyama a conflict of interest if it directly involves the husband’s/boyfriend’s

department.

Their consciences clear, these Lothario politicians can reap

­benefits by proxy. After all, the Asset Forfeiture Unit won’t be knocking on

their door any time soon because none of this wealth is “theirs”.

It’s high time we compiled an Nyama ­Register as an addendum to the

official ­Register of Members’ Interests. In any other country (except maybe

among libidinous ­nations like the Italians), it would be a scandal for a wife

or mistress of a politician to cream it from the fiscus. But hey, this is

Africa.

Having an Nyama is our culture. Here we do things ­differently.

All of this raises uncomfortable questions about the line between

politicians’ private lives and the state’s commitment to clean government.

Neither of which can be served if the wives and mistresses of prominent

politicians are allowed to wheel and deal under the guise of “autonomous

agents”. They aren’t.

Their business interests should be kept and logged for

anyone to see.

It shouldn’t only be their direct involvement in companies and

close corporations that should be listed either.

They should be banned from

doing business with government entirely.

The register should also include gifts

received from companies trying to land government business, or even those who

already have.

And if an Nyama should find herself ­compromised in terms of this

register, the ­politician in question shouldn’t be allowed to claim “respect for

her privacy”. It should be made to stink and shine like rotten mackerel in the

moonlight.

Times have changed, and it’s time to rein in this matrimonial (and

extramarital) profligacy.

If there ever were an indication that the roles have reversed,

consider the case of one ­Nkululeko Mhlongo, a presidential nyatsi. Her company

was awarded a multimillion-rand ­tender for (get this) .­?.?. catering.

There

you have it: the wife is in business and the mistress is cooking.



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