Leash the government leeches

It would have been hilarious, was it not so contemptuous.

Like kids in a candy store, our politicians, senior civil servants, their wives, side-kicks and hangers-on have been running up a large bill on international flights, five-star hotels and call girls in the name of promoting international relations between our country and the rest of the world.

I have been trying to think about this for a while now. I have been trying to figure out how this "selling" business benefits me and you, dear reader.

But so far nothing gels. Now the Brazilian government has apparently bent President Thabo Mbeki's ear.

The poor guys have had it. They are complaining because they spent too much time and money trying to accommodate multiple South African delegations in their country.

What happens is that from national departments to some small municipalities without even change to buy streetlights let alone rid our townships off the bucket system, government entities are trudging over themselves in foreign climes under the pretext that they are selling their municipalities, provinces or country to the outside world.

Sorry folks. I wouldn't want you to sell me anywhere without my expressed agreement. I also suspect that readers of this little piece can see through these charlatans who visit the bordellos of Rio and are treated to lap dances in Copacabana - all in our name.

But it's not only the Brazilians who have had it. Some countries are just too civil to put a stop to this charade.

Once I saw about three different "delegates" of about 15-a- piece from my country in an exclusive part of London.

They were there to promote tourism for their respective municipalities. Instead of having tea with homeboys and girls, I fled. Not for me to be associated with the circus.

The scene was repeated in Paris during one of my visits there.

Mbeki has come out smoking against this Third World malaise. But methinks that the government should put its foot down if it seriously wants to put pay to these useless safaris.

For heaven sake, we have a Department of Local Government in place. Why can't comrade Sydney Mufamadi add a few more bodies in his payroll who will deal with "government travel", particularly for the province and municipalities.

If he finds that too taxing - what with parts of the country burning - then we should create an office, even a fully fledged, national department to regulate these petty sojourns.

That way, we will save some much-needed money and be able to use it to build houses in Kliptown and elsewhere.

The circus has been going on for too long now and we are losing international face as a result.

We can't have people who never personally spend money on an average bottle of whiskey, now sipping single malts on our account at the Astoria.

As my old friend would say, these people are leeches and they must be kept on a leash.

And talking about selling the country globally, why is our sky so depressing?

Parisians have their Eiffel Tower. Londoners have their Big Ben. What do we have? A concrete structure called the Hillbrow Tower. Aah pleeeeeeze.