Ferial Haffajee
Ferial Haffajee

Mine’s bigger than yours

The ego of a politician, I’ve decided, rests less on the size of the manaconda (as my colleague Niren Tolsi so eloquently describes the penis) than on the size of the convoy. For a full week now, we’ve been bullied off roads by minor pols with big convoys. You should’ve seen the dickheads on the perilous road from Polokwane to the Limpopo University, scene of this week’s revolution in the ANC.

They raced up behind, pushed minor cars on to the shoulder, blue lights flashing as they sped at probably double the suggested speed. I think my travelling companion must think me slightly mad as I kept up a constant stream of “fuckers” as the maniacs bore their VIPs to the conference venue.

Of course, most of the convoyed are now out of vogue, having been pushed off the ANC’s top leadership by the people in buses. There is justice in this world. By the end of the week, I’d worked out the convoy culture.

Less big dicks get the smallest convoys: one local traffic cop plus black sedan and blue light paid for by taxpayer. Minor provincial pawns like Ebrahim Rasool: one local traffic cop, three bodyguards, one side-car plus one X5 BMW paid for by taxpayer.

Ex-chief Thabo Mbeki: one local traffic cop, one lead-in fancy black car, one bulletproof presidential mobile, one fancy black ambulance, one very expensive side-car that travels on wrong side of road next to now ex-chief, another local traffic cop, and his boss in his own. All blue lights on high speed. All paid for by taxpayer.

And while you may have drunk the Kool-Aid and muttered to your friends about how new chief JZ is going to make us a country where the people shall govern, let me tell you that his is the biggest of them all.

One local speed-cop, an X5 with bodyguards, big chief’s fancy sedan. And another X5. And another. And another. And, yes, another. All blue lights flashing. I lost count of all those vehicles paid for by the citizenry. I detest convoy culture for what it says about how our representatives view themselves: as above the law, as VIPs and not servants of the people. They peer at us snootily through bulletproofed, stained windows. Occasionally, some wave; most just push their way past queues and traffic as if we did not put them in power. It is the most anti-democratic of cultures.

Give me politicians who cycle to work or even drive themselves, and they’ll have my vote.

On weightier matters. Blogger Graeme Addison says we are not giving enough foresight. See this week’s M&G for what the political future may hold, but here are some thoughts on the NEC list.

  • Note how high up that list Brigitte Mabandla is — in the top 10. The Justice Minister has dodged the NPA for more than a month now as it tries to brief her on the corruption cases against Zuma and police Commissioner Jackie Selebi. It’s been impossible to move against them and it’s going to be well-nigh impossible in the aftermath of Polokwane. Was this vote of confidence her payback? Watch that space; I don’t think she’s going to give the NPA the go-ahead and, after Vusi Pikoli was suspended for not keeping her in the loop, the NPA cannot move without her.
  • Otherwise, it’s a balanced list of leadership. Some excellent skills have been retained but all those who came out to bat publicly for Mbeki have been iced. The Pahad brothers are gone; also Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and husband, Jabu; Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her husband, Charles; Saki Macozoma; and Alec Erwin, among others.
  • Cosatu’s attempt to pack the ANC appears to have come asunder. Most trade unionists put up for elections received less than 1 000 nominations each and didn’t make the final cut.