Cars, planes and gravy trains

2011-10-22 08:51

Look, we’re not saying our president and deputy president have to fly

South Africa is an engaged nation with a strong foreign policy, so President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe are often out of the country on state visits.

Air Force 1 has good wings, but Air Force 2 has let Motlanthe down so many times it is starting to look like a plot.

This week, our poor deputy missed the start of his ­Nordic tour and to get him back to SA in one piece, we chartered a private jet at a cost of mega-millions.

Is it really necessary? Many other leaders use the national airlines and there is nothing wrong with SAA’s first class ­service.

It’s not kulula.

Now it looks like we are about to splash out on new wings for the deputy – an unavoidable cost say the Defence Force bean counters.

Well, maybe. But the way we spend and waste money in South Africa, it often feels as if we believe we are Norway, the richest social democracy in the world.

Our politicians love bling: big cars, bigger houses and blue lights. We don’t expect them to drive Pandas and Cherrys but on second thoughts, with the way the ANC loves China, it might be an important act of solidarity with our trading partner to give up the German sedans and go for the budget Chinese ­imports.

On Page 27, we write about Thomas Sankara, the post-independence leader of Burkina Faso who banned air-conditioning and first-class fights along with all elite living as a sign of being one with his people. Now there’s a lesson in governance we like. 

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