State of the wasteful address

2013-03-05 14:23

On Thursday the Croc and I ended up in Pietermaritzburg. It’s not my favourite place. I lived there for a year eons ago. It wasn’t a good year.

Most of it was miserable. Too many farmers, too many bureaucrats, too many jock types. And way too many cops.

It was like that on Thursday. But worse. The Croc and I were there for Zweli Mkhize’s state of the province address. The bureaucrats call it a Sopa.

I call it a headache. It’s one of those jobs you don’t want to do but have to.

For those of you lucky enough not to have been to one, Sopas aren’t cool. The principle is fine. The Sopa is meant to be a provincial version of the Sona. The Sona is not a device for measuring distances between objects underwater. It’s the state of the nation address.

It’s given by the Commander in Chief once a year. Everybody gets dressed up. There are lots of army and police muppets in uniform marching around.

View our state of the nation fashion awards gallery.

Everybody listens to the CiC limping through government’s priorities for the year. Then they have a party. Then everybody goes home and continues as they were for the previous year.

The Sona is worse though. First, it’s in Pietermaritzburg. They should change its name to Babylon because of all the cops there. Then there’s that dry, scorching Midlands heat. There’s no beach. There’s men in suits everywhere. There’s women with hats that look like wedding cakes.

There’s red carpets running around the Royal Showgrounds. There’s security muppets whose only role on the planet is stopping Harper from walking on the red carpets.

I wonder: Who does the guest list? There’s pensioners, disabled, kiddies. There’s all the crooks who do business with government. There’s the CiC’s offspring. Why?

As far as content goes, the Sopa is flatter than the road between Kimberley and Bloemfontein. It’s like listening to paint dry. The premier tells the province what nice things his government has done for the past 12 months. Then he outlines what’s going to happen for the next year.

This is where things get really strange. The Prem rattles on about projects being paid for by Transnet, the national Department of Public Works, or some Chinese or American investor. In terms of what the province is actually doing there is, well zip.

When the Prem wraps up there is a luncheon. A big one. The larnees get an air-conditioned tent with all mod cons. The not-so-larnees an air-conditioned tent with few bells and whistles.

The media, cops and paramedics a feeding station where the larnees can’t see them eating with their paws. The ordinary punters a Styrofoam container and a carton of juice as they leave the gate on the way home to poverty.

I get it that people need to hear what the Prem is plotting for the year. But the event generated around it is a massive waste of money. There’s thousands of punters bussed in; massive catering bills; service providers of all kinds providing some pretty unnecessary services.

It’s hard to see any justification in pissing away so much of my tax money.

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