If only the rest of the country was like O R Tambo

David Bullard on one of the small parts of the country that works well

I'm frequently accused by a small group of malcontents (who persist in reading this column and getting upset) of being a tad negative about our beautiful country. I prefer to think of it as realism but each to his own and you are quite at liberty to see it as negativity.

Last week I took the advice of some of my harshest critics and flew back to the land of my birth (No...,not Scotland Mute Fool) to check up on my offshore investments and spread joy and light among my family there. As a UK patriot I like to think of myself as a one man consumer led economic recovery so, despite the crappy exchange rate (but I mustn't blame the unions must I?), I have been spending as though there were no tomorrow. A decent lunch at Oblix at The Shard can easily set you back over R1500 a head and all that eventually trickles down and creates jobs apparently. Or maybe not. Which is why I didn't bother to book at The Shard.

However, I digress. I checked into Olly Tambo last Thursday for my flight and I am delighted to report that such is the efficiency of ORT that I was sitting comfortably with a large gin and tonic in the lounge less than twenty minutes from check in. It may even have been less than fifteen minutes. Of course it probably helped that I was travelling down the sharp end and that the Emirates business class check-in is super efficient. But security and passport control were also super efficient and extremely polite.  We'll have to see what the return journey is like (Yes sorry Mute Fool....I couldn't afford to stay there) but I have only ever had politeness and efficiency when I enter SA. I can't imagine why anybody would want to land at Waterkloof unless it is to side-step the difficult decision of whether to go through the red lane or the green lane.

Credit where it's due. We create a great impression when visitors are entering our country and our airports are surely among the best designed in the world. Unfortunately it's our politicians that let us down.

Take the rather odd demand from the ANC's Western Cape Secretary Songezo Mjongile that President Barack Obama not accept the proffered freedom of the City of Cape Town when he visits later this year. The objection seems to be two pronged. Firstly, it's not the ANC doing the proffering and, secondly, " it would be a pity if Obama accepted the award from a city that doesn't care about the poorest of the poor".

The first is easily disposed of. The ANC don't run the Western Cape so they're huffy that they are in no position to offer the freedom of Cape Town. Their objection shows a worrying churlishness that makes me wonder whether they will give up power without a struggle when they are kicked out in the next election but one. Since the reason for the visit of Obama is not primarily to secure the freedom of Cape Town (he does already have Washington) but to strengthen economic ties one might have hoped that the opposition would set aside party politics and encourage anything that might create jobs in this country. But that's not what our cosseted cadres do is it? Providing they have their own snouts in the trough they've never been too bothered about the plight of others.

Which brings me to the second and main objection. For the ANC to suggest that the DA in the Western Cape doesn't care about the poorest of the poor is world class hypocrisy. Based on the ANC's performance over the past 19 years I don't think there's overwhelming evidence that the ruling party give a fig for the poor. Sure they've built a few houses and delivered electricity and water but while our school-kids rank as the second dumbest in the world in maths and science subjects I would say that the ANC has done a pretty lousy job.

As is the case with most politicians, the poor only feature just before election time. For the intervening period all attention is focussed on super wealthy businessmen who want special landing rights at military bases. As I've mentioned many times before, there is little pleasure to be had from hanging out with the poor. They don't entertain lavishly, they're not very cool to be seen with and they're in no position to advance the financial ambitions of a politician.

But the real question is, should any of us really be bothered about the poorest of the poor? Wouldn't it be more economically efficient to invest in those who form part of the wealth creation process? Of course we should but can you imagine the lefties giving that the thumbs up? Besides, while the ANC has an uneducated and unemployed electorate it has a sporting chance of holding on to power. After all, if you can't read and can't add then you're not in a strong position to object to the President's profligacy;  in which case ignorance must truly be bliss.


Until he plagiarized one of my witticisms on Twitter last week I really had no idea who Dr Iqbal Survé was. He is, according to his Twitter page, a medical doctor and apparently the new owner of the troubled Independent newspaper group. He is also ageist and isn't particularly fond of bossy white sexagenarians I'm told.  So I'm hoping he doesn't patrol  the geriatric wards.

The question of how the R2bln Independent purchase was being funded was asked by a journalist from the not quite so troubled Times Media Group stable (which Dr Survé seems to think is still called AVUSA) last week and prompted all sorts of handbag swinging between BDFM obergruppenführer Peter Bruce and the good doctor, to the amusement of many Twitter observers. My own observation, for what it's worth, is that the sensitivity shown on both sides further suggests that the newspaper industry is living on borrowed time.

Clearly Dr Survé is an educated man and I assume he would have sat by the patient's bedside and performed a thorough diagnosis before wiring the Independent up to a life support machine. Whether the patient survives though and goes on to lead a full and healthy life remains to be seen. And that rather depends on who is footing the medical bill.  

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter