Is there a Winkie in the House?

Parliament’s unparallelled ability to generate hot air does lend itself to becoming a geothermal power plant and could solve South Africa’s electricity shortage instantly. But, failing that, it also has the potential to play a relevant, stimulating part of South Africa’s democracy.

Ndumiso Ngcobo’s recent call for some “politainment” is a timely one. It’s about time South Africans got more involved in our “democracy”. And that’s only going to happen if we are exposed to the machinations, the cogs and cock-ups, of our legislative process.

Let’s boost the ratings of Parliament Live — let’s lure the masses away from 7de Laan and The Biggest Loser. Firstly a name change for the parliamentary programme is called for. Politics Survivor? Lost in Translation? Big Brother National Assembly? You decide.

Thankfully, Parliament has attracted just the right people to achieve this lofty aim. Holding court from the Speaker’s chair, Baleka Mbete does sterling work in ensuring that Parliament remains a ruling-party rubberstamp “until Jesus comes” (as Zuma says). Indeed, when she’s not giving Yengeni a piggyback into Pollsmoor or letting gravy-plane fraudsters off the hook, the chiffon-swaddled Caramello Bear is creating an atmosphere where the House’s torpid proceedings are becoming a tad more enlivened.

One such example is Winkie Direko’s throat-slitting gesture at DA MPs a few months ago. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get on to page six of the Argus/Star/Citizen’s late edition. Winkie’s pinky — the finger that spilt 10 000 teacups.

Personally, I think the honourable member’s attention-seeking stunt was a little bit first-base. For heaven’s sake! Why doesn’t she liven things up a bit by driving denizens of the Constantia-gevaar into the chilly depths of Cape Town harbour? Throw a panga and some struggle songs into the mix and you’ll have the nation glued to their screens.

But then, of course, I dare say that certain of Direko’s compatriots that could do with a good dunking in 10-degree Atlantic water — as that’s almost guaranteed to wake them from their semi-literate stupor. That will soon put an end to the snoring and/or self-absorbed nose-picking (even if the latter happens to be the sum total of mining experience for most of the members of the mineral affairs portfolio committee).

And for those who don’t bubble back up to the surface, well, the Zuma camp has its Mbeki-loyalist parliamentary purge solved in one foul swoop — and the electoral list for the upcoming 2009 landslide can be realigned effortlessly.

It is only a matter of time before the president’s question time is ditched (a long overdue measure — it’s not like he was ever in the country to answer them) and replaced with Msholozi’s shower hour. That will be the day when Parliament is worth watching. Even if it’s only to see the size of his umshini.

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