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Johannesburg - Life can be hard as a cabinet minister, especially when an unforeseen shake-up at the top deprives you of the use of a chartered luxury jet.
But former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu can take heart that relief is in sight.
A special Christmas gift, hand-crafted to ease her passage on commercial airlines, is heading her way.
It is a “comfort collar”, resplendent in eye-popping pink satin and feathered finery, to be worn around the neck on those dreary SAA flights and help her catch up on beauty sleep. Or power naps, as the case may be.
The thoughtful giver is her parliamentary nemesis, DA MP and defence spokesman David Maynier, the recent recipient of an equally strategic surprise – a calculator from the minister, to help him “do the math”.
This was Sisulu’s retort to the MP’s dogged questioning about the number of flights she’d taken on SA Air Force-chartered Gulfstream jets, after the Defence Department supplied an inflated figure in a written reply to a question from Maynier.
The “flea-infested” Maynier, to quote Sisulu’s characterisation of him, has been itching to reciprocate, and now he has struck back – in the spirit of giving, of course
He thought “since you are no longer flying on the ultra-luxury Gulfstream jets… this ‘comfort collar’ may help to make your flights on SAA a little more tolerable”, he wrote in a note to Sisulu.
It had taken a lot of thought to come up with the perfect present, Maynier told Independent Newspapers, but he felt it was “exactly the kind of style she would appreciate”.
“I can’t imagine the minister could possibly make do with an ordinary comfort pillow,” he said.
Asked if he thought it would make a fetching accessory for grand events – the opening of Parliament, for example – Maynier chuckled. “Well, I’m not sure it would be appropriate for a minister of state to be sitting in a bench with a comfort pillow.”
The designer was DA head of parliamentary research Frouwin Bosman, who had turned out to be, beside her more serious duties, “an expert seamstress”. It is not clear whether the two will be bringing out a range of designer accessories for political high-flyers. Sisulu may have found Maynier a pain in the neck in the past, but those days are over with her custom-made comfort collar. She’s bound to be tickled pink.