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The deal is, arm me with Swiss goodies and some fine Scotch

By unknown | Mar 08, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Just the other day I was thinking about what I think journalists throughout the world also think about from time to time.

Just the other day I was thinking about what I think journalists throughout the world also think about from time to time.

The thought came to me while on a mile-high journey. My plane was about to touch down at the Cape Town International Airport.

What constitutes bribery, I was thinking to myself?

You see, I was a guest of the SANDF. They paid for my round-trip to Cape Town, booked me into a 4-star hotel, fed me and took me to Simon's Town, where one of their latest warships, the Spionkop, was being commissioned into service.

A good journalist, as the South African National Editors Forum and other media organisations would say in their guidelines , is someone who is not seduced into writing only positive things that exclude facts, even if that journalist is wined and dined by the relevant individual or organisation.

In my career as a journalist I've received other freebies far more costly than the SANDF excursion.

In the past two years alone, I've criss-crossed a number of time-zones travelling to places such as New York, London, Paris as well as exotic cities such as Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv - all gratis.

The point is, there's no free lunch in this city, as the Yanks would say. For every investment, an investor needs returns of some sort.

Take the SANDF trip, for example. As I gorged myself silly on the finest Cape prawns and sipped the country's best vintage wines, paid for by them - and, by extension, you, the tax-payer - I kept wondering what was in it for the SANDF.

Then the penny dropped. During a press briefing, journalists where asked - nay, commanded - not to ask any questions about the arms procurement deal.

If you remember, the commissioned ship forms part of a larger war arsenal that cost the country about R40billion. It is the same deal that has seen to it that Jacob Zuma has been put on the spot and his handler, Schabir Shaik, in the slammer.

Now the commissioning event was the right place to get clarity on the way ahead regarding irregular happenings during the arms deal procurement, what with all the allegations that pop up all over the place now and then.

For my part, I turn down most of these freebie-trips unless, of course, there is something in them for me.

And that something is a bar of chocolate and a good single malt whiskey. You see, I have a sweet tooth and I like a single malt whiskey, not because it tastes good, I just love it because I cannot afford it on my salary.

Anyone out there with some Swiss goodies and fine Scotch? I'm your man.


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