Consumer Watch

Wendy Knowler fights for your rights...

John Scott Masthead
May 10 2012 at 11:35

Tina Joemet-Pettersson would have made a much better SA Air Force colonel than Ruth Ndayi.

For one thing, had the fisheries minister been a colonel, she would definitely not have worn pink slippers to go shopping during her lunch break, which is what Lieutenant-Colonel Ndayi did in Pretoria a couple of weeks ago.

The pink slippers made senior military men see red, especially because they were worn in combination with full air force blue, including  cap.

Personally I don’t see the problem. The colonel is not a military-looking lady anyway. She’s of matronly build, and obviously far more comfortable in slippers. Whereas Tina looks the part. She is a trim little lady who throws more than her own weight around when she thinks it necessary, which is often. Jack-boots rather than slippers for her.

She did it again last week when she discovered that the Cape Town Press Club had secreted a DA MP in their midst at a club breakfast she was due to address. Though he was a press club member, there was no knowing what sort of questions he might have put to her afterwards.

Such as: Do you still stamp your feet and throw a tantrum, yes or no?

So she demanded that Pieter van Dalen leave the breakfast table, where he was already seated, before she got out of her gold-painted Mercedes. Informed of the minister’s fear of his questions, he agreed not to ask any. But even that wasn’t enough. His mere presence would, apparently, have put Tina right off her stroke.

In the interests of not depriving other members of the minister’s profound thoughts, Van Dalen then left the premises. I wouldn’t have allowed him to. If I were still chairman of the press club, as I was many years ago, I would have insisted he stay, and suggested to the minister that she leave instead. No club should be that desperate that they permit some politician to dictate to them what member should or shouldn’t be present.

They would probably have had a very nice breakfast without having it interrupted by a fisherlady laying down the law.

But if you’re an air force colonel you are allowed to shout and scream if your orders are not obeyed. And instead of throwing your toys out of the cot, you can drop bombs on the enemy, if you have any.

Talking of toys, it was at the Sandton guest house called “Pure Toys One” that Tina stayed for a month at a cost to the taxpayer of R420 000. She spent a total of 174 days in luxury hotels, because of repairs of one kind or another to her official residences. But she explained it was all the fault of government officials that the bill had come to R1.6m. Spoken like a true buck-passing colonel.

That is why I think she should leave DAFFY, which is what they call her Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even when she is not running it. It continually leads her into misunderstandings.

For instance, in her written budget speech in Parliament last week she said “We shall ask the Special Investigating Unit to investigate all tenders granted by the department”, but minutes later she told a reporter: “I never said the Special Investigating Unit will investigate the tenders.”

That had to be the fault of yet another confused official.

Put her in air force uniform, I say. She’ll never wear pink slippers, and the fish can sleep easy again.

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