Chris Moerdyk

Jacob Zuma is not president of the US

2012-01-30 07:57

Chris Moerdyk

I suppose it isn’t really President Zuma's fault that our military establishment and police protection services treat him as though he is the President of the United States.

Or, that they tend to treat female deputy ministers as though they are Hillary Clinton.

That's what it certainly looks like to me with those backup jets shadowing our president and blue light brigades bashing their way through peak-hour traffic to get ministers and their deputies as well as provincial premiers and MECs to meetings.

I was speaking to a deputy minister recently who was complaining that he had a meeting to go to and that it would have been a lot easier if he could drive himself instead of waiting for his official car and the blue light brigade to get their act together.

"Well, why don’t you just do it," I asked.

"I can’t, " he answered quite sadly actually and then added, "the thing is that all ministers and deputy ministers have to abide by security protocols that are laid down  by the police protection services and in some cases the military and even if we wanted to just drive ourselves there is no way we are allowed to."

So, even if President Zuma wanted to just hop onto an SAA flight to New York and sit in economy class with the rests of us, he would actually be breaking the law. And the trouble, I suppose, is that if Parliament had to change the law the police and military would probably just refuse to do any sort of protection at all.

Right now it is completely over the top and we desperately need to bring some sanity to the situation.

But, where did it all start? Who was the bright spark who hit on the idea of chase planes and blue light brigades?

Well, I am told we can thank former US Vice President, Dick Cheney. Apparently, when he visited the country he offered to assist our authorities with setting up personal security protocols for government ministers.

With the result that we now have cowboy gunslinger laws with chase planes - which are going to continue to be used in spite of President Zuma flying to Qatar and Davos in just one plane - as well as extremely arrogant blue light brigade drivers and crews who seem to have this notion that every ordinary citizen on the roads can't possibly have anything important to do and therefore does not qualify to be treated as anything else but some sort of irritating little spit-beetle.

 What really astounds me  is that our government doesn’t seem to be all that fond of the United States administration and tends to fight them at every turn from the future of Burma, the Dalai Lama, the  invasion of Iraq, the Palestine question and how to get rid of Libyan leaders.

So, one has to wonder why on earth they were so keen to take lessons from them with regard to what can only be described as gung-ho, wild-west, kickass security protocols?

I certainly agree that our president and some ministers  need security but then so do some of our top business leaders and doctors who can arguably be on just as important assignments as Cabinet ministers and who, quite frankly, are just as vulnerable.

Frankly, it’s all just extremely expensive and in most cases it’s not so much about security as playing with lights and sirens, sticking guns in motorists' faces and childishly showing off.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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