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There is a street game known as Find the Lady, where tricksters place three playing cards face-down, and shift them around. The passer-by is asked to point out the queen and invariably loses money after being lured into bigger bets by a few wins.
It is about distraction. Journalists witnessed the political equivalent at City Hall on Wednesday, when metro leaders addressed the issue of two replacement vehicles for the speaker and the deputy mayor.
Leading the distraction was Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala. She did not know what the fuss was about. If she had had her choice, she said, she would have had a bullet-proof Mercedes S500 (at R1.4 million, and much more with the armoured features).
So there you are: ratepayers got a bargain and should be relieved and grateful that they were only Toyota Landcruiser Prados. Only?
They are about half the cost of an S500. But why a Prado? Because, we’re told, eThekwini trips cover all kinds of surfaces and there is a need for four-wheel drive. What, then, about something like a tried, tested and extremely popular Toyota Fortuner – at a fraction of the Prado cost? Or another reputable brand, for that matter?
Public representatives do not seem to realise that the more expensive their vehicles, the greater the distance between them and the people they are visiting and seeking votes from.
Mayor James Nxumalo said he would be comfortable in a Toyota Tazz. Power to him for saying that. A first citizen in a Tazz would be highly unusual... And most attractive. It would certainly turn heads, and grow interest in him and what he has to say.
A mayor in a modest car would set a delightful new tone, one of rejection of the ever-increasing trappings of office. It would speak of an office-bearer who cares more about spending limited funds on real priorities.
Let us see if he actually does it.