The Bob and Grace, Ted and Connie show

2011-02-05 00:00

UNCLE Ted and Uncle Bob both like to wear baseball caps with their fastidiously tailored suits when, on liberation day, their militias round up the locals for spontaneous celebrations.

The similarities don't end there — both are devout Catholics blessed with personal audiences with the Pope, and both have mega-millions stashed far away from the ravaged countries they rule.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — or as he likes to be known: His Excellency, Gentleman of the Great Island of Bioko, Annobón and Río Mun, God in Permanent Contact with the Almighty — has put in 31 despotic years emptying the oil-rich coffers of Equatorial Guinea.

In this regard he is neck-and-neck with his old pal, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe — or as he likes to be known: Honourable Comrade, God-given Head of State and Government — who has also completed 30-and-counting despotic years at the helm, salting away all that blood-diamond lolly in Swiss banks.

But creaky Bob turns 87 in a fortnight, while sprightly Ted is only 68. So there is a lot more highway ahead for Obiang, proof of which was his elevation to head of the African Union (AU) this week.

That's not the kind of honour that nowadays readily comes Comrade Bob's way, whose best shot was to be awarded Knight Commander of the Bath by Good Queen Lizzie, only to have it later revoked.

On the other hand, Viagra Bob, as they jokingly call him (not to his face though) down at the Harare Bowling Club, is married to the luscious Grace, who is a mere 45. Poor Ted is saddled with Constantia, who is 58.

First Lady Constantia Mangue de Obiang admittedly looks remarkably youthful. Her fresh complexion testimony to her nightly cosmetic regime of facial infusions distilled from the heart and brain of Ted's late, lamented uncle, Macias Nguema.

Macias, who liked to be called Great Miracle, and collected the skulls of those unfortunates who forgot, was deposed and executed by Teddy in 1979, who then reputedly had some of Macias' body parts removed for Constantia's face creams and for when he, Teddy, got the late-night munchies.

Connie proudly lists among the accomplishments on her curriculum vitae that she is "christener of the ship Hipolito Micha", the 20-metre patrol boat that is the pride of the Equatorial Guinea fleet.

In contrast, the best that Grace has done in naming things is to inspire Gracelands, the irreverent name that Zimbabweans dubbed the Versailles-style mansion that she commissioned outside Harare.

As chair of the AU, Ready Teddy is sworn to "encourage democracy and good governance" on the continent. Fortunately, unlike Bad Bob, he has never had to eject independent electoral observers from his country because of losing what was supposed to be a securely rigged election.

Being well loved by his people, Teddy was the only presidential candidate in 1982 and 1989. By 1992, he felt Guineans were sufficiently developed to be allowed political parties — this gradualism is what he was no doubt referring to in his AU acceptance speech when he said: "The concepts of democracy, human rights and good governance are not new to Africa, but they should be adapted to the African culture" — and was rewarded with 98% of the vote.

In 2002, he again got 98%, of the vote, slipping to 97% in 2009. Watch and learn, Bob. Democracy is just arithmetic.

South Africa is apparently the retirement place of choice for both despots.

Ted owns the most expensive mansion in Malibu, but has also bought property in Cape Town. Bob is thought to have some fronted real estate in Johannesburg.

Ah, feel the fresh winds of the African Renaissance.

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