There surely must be times when the president of our republic wishes he had been given some other, more pliable, country. I mean, we are constantly moaning and kvetching about his antics and his appointments. Whether it is his pick for chair at SA Airways or the SABC’s chief operating officer, the opposition and the media and civil society are always banging on. Last week the president must have looked to the north and shaken his head in admiration at what his counterparts get away with. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe appointed his son-in-law, Simba Chikore, as Air Zimbabwe’s chief operating officer. Air Zimbabwe board chairman Chipo Dyanda said Chikore "excelled in the interviews that were conducted for the post". He helpfully added that Chikore did well in psychometric tests. Chikore, a pilot, has no management experience.
This sort of thing is par for the course in Zimbabwe. The airline last month appointed the late vice-president Simon Muzenda’s son, Ripton, as its new CEO. He, too, has no management experience and wasn’t even interviewed for the job — yet managed to beat five other candidates to the post. Bless his cotton socks.
The Times says this is common practice in many other parts of our continent. Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed her son to head the central bank while Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni appointed his son as a major-general in the military.
Of course, these leaders pale into insignificance against our friend Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. Having ruled his country for 37 years, earning himself the dubious honour of being the world’s longest-serving president, he appointed his son "Teodorin" as his vice-president in June.
The Mugabes of this world must look upon Nguema with awe. This year, the man got 93% of the vote when he ran for his sixth term as president. Many say he is losing it — he has won by upwards of 97% in the past. On reflecting on these issues it is always better to eat and drink. My childhood friend Donny Mothoa and I were in Rustenburg, a mining town that looks prosperous, despite the commodities bust.
Donny and I were headed for a familiar restaurant chain when we saw a restaurant that seemed to attract a white clientele only. "Let’s go there," said Donny, pointing at Das Bierstiefel. He is adventurous, is my friend.
It’s a German-themed restaurant. Staff are clad in dirndl and lederhosen. The Oktoberfest was being advertised. The décor is all German and things Germanic. The clientele, when we there at lunch, was exclusively Afrikaans-speaking (I checked). It’s hot in Rustenburg. Everyone except us (and a table of young office types next to us) were in shorts and khaki shirts.
Our waitress, Della, was welcoming. The place seems to specialize in Jam Jar cocktails – every table seemed to have one. Donny ordered one, a bright red concoction that looked lethal from afar. He became very happy very quickly, which confirmed my suspicions that it was a killer. I had a gin and tonic.
The two rump steaks were, by my judgment, very good. Donny raved about his, while I thought mine had a tad too much fat. The part that was meat was indeed succulent and juicy. The owner came to say hello. Donny congratulated him on his steaks. He beamed.
Which made me smile, too: we do not allow our president to appoint his relatives to top positions, and we make pretty good steaks. Even in monochromatic restaurants in Rustenburg.
*** Das Bierstiefel
Unit 20 Platinum Square Mall,
***** Thuli Madonsela
* Jacob Zuma