SONA

CityPress - - News - CARIEN DU PLESSIS carien.du­p­lessis@city­press.co.za

Barely 12 hours af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma talked about rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion for black busi­ness­peo­ple, he teed off in Melk­bosstrand at one of the coun­try’s most exclusive 18-hole golf cour­ses, about 25 min­utes up the coast from Cape Town. The Pres­i­den­tial Golf Chal­lenge, held an­nu­ally on the Fri­day af­ter the state of the na­tion ad­dress (Sona), is aimed at rais­ing funds for the Ja­cob G Zuma Foun­da­tion, which gives money to ed­u­ca­tion char­i­ties.

A re­laxed-look­ing Zuma ad­mit­ted his swing needed some work – an ad­mis­sion he hasn’t yet made about his drab de­liv­ery of of­fi­cial speeches.

Play­ers were treated to beers, cool drinks, cup­cakes, mac­a­roons and mas­sages at sev­eral re­fresh­ment sta­tions on the vast course. The event was spon­sored by Cell C, Transnet, Eskom, gov­ern­ment med­i­cal scheme Gems and the SA State In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Agency.

“There are so many wet holes. We just can’t eat so much,” one golfer laugh­ingly com­plained.

Golfers from across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide in the ANC made their way along the greens. For­mer Cope crosser Leonard Ra­mat­lakane, for­mer Lim­popo premier Cas­sel Mathale and for­mer Jo­han­nes­burg mayor Parks Tau rubbed shoul­ders with the in-crowd. The in-crowd – po­lit­i­cally, we mean – in­cluded Co­op­er­a­tive Gover­nance Min­is­ter Des van Rooyen and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and Postal Ser­vices Min­is­ter Siyabonga Cwele.

It was a live­lier event than the Sona red car­pet, which took place in the mid­dle of a ghostly quiet Cape Town.

The red car­pet was rolled out for par­lia­men­tar­i­ans ahead of Zuma’s speech, and had to be swept sev­eral times as gusts of wind blew yel­low leaves on to it.

Out­side, the streets were bar­ri­caded with the kind of un­scal­able fences de­signed to keep peo­ple out, rather than in­vite par­tic­i­pa­tion. Sev­eral roads lead­ing to Par­lia­ment were blocked with heavy con­crete bar­ri­cades.

Most Capeto­ni­ans who could, left work early or worked from home to avoid the traf­fic jams and the mil­i­tary trucks in the city cen­tre. Pedes­tri­ans in the form of die-hard Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters (EFF) pro­test­ers and ANC sup­port­ers at­tend­ing the Peo­ple’s Assem­bly on the Grand Pa­rade tak­ing over the city cen­tre. The red car­pet event wasn’t re­ally much of an event. Other than jour­nal­ists be­ing herded into the usual con­fined space from where they were ex­pected to cover the ar­rivals, there re­ally weren’t many peo­ple around. Now and then, sweat­ing EFF MPs wear­ing red trousers and T-shirts say­ing “Fear Fokol” would come over from the streets where they were protest­ing, but they kept out of sight for the rest of the pro­ceed­ings. They dar­ingly dashed across the red car­pet to en­ter Poorthuis even af­ter it had been closed off ahead of for­mal pro­ceed­ings. A par­lia­men­tary choir sang Msholozi’s theme tune, Umshini wami, while he was dropped off at the en­trance of the Na­tional Assem­bly build­ing. “In the early days, he walked this red car­pet and chil­dren, Par­lia­ment staff and clean­ers were cheer­ing,” I told one of the army of po­lice of­fi­cers de­ployed to Par­lia­ment from an­other prov­ince to keep the pres­i­dent safe. “That was be­fore the coun­try lost con­fi­dence in him,” the po­lice of­fi­cer said. Just be­fore 5pm, about two hours later than nor­mal, there was a slight flurry of move­ment as politi­cians en­tered. Po­lit­i­cal roy­alty gave some spark to an other­wise fu­ne­real oc­ca­sion. Jour­nal­ists ooh-ed and aah-ed at Mandla Man­dela and his wife Rabia’s Xhosa out­fits. Out of all the MPs, the ANC made the best ef­fort to re­mind all that the open­ing of Par­lia­ment re­ally is about glitz, glam­our and cel­e­bra­tion. There was a def­i­nite trend this year to ei­ther use pri­vate, lit­tle-known or emerg­ing de­sign­ers, or to scale down a bit. Kwaito star Arthur Mafokate wore a snazzy light suit that he had in his cup­board, and some old socks he was too shy to show off. Even West­ern Cape Premier He­len Zille, who be­fore named her de­sign­ers like they were her friends, this year wore an off-the-rack black dress by Hip-Hop. Small Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Lindiwe Zulu, as al­ways at fancy oc­ca­sions, donned a dress in tra­di­tional colours (with the usual em­pha­sis on ANC green) by her de­signer daugh­ter Phindile. As in the past two years, Par­lia­ment ob­served Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han’s belt­tight­en­ing mea­sures by not hav­ing a swanky din­ner after­wards. In­stead, those who chose to could at­tend Baleka Mbete’s pri­vate Speaker’s Ball – pos­si­bly held in an at­tempt to launch her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

TRA­DI­TIONAL Small Busi­ness Min­is­ter Lindiwe Zulu wore a dress de­signed by her daugh­ter Phindile

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