Finance chair plummets with the rand

By Jenni O'Grady

A video clip of a chair breaking under parliament's Finance Committee Chairperson, Nhlanhla Nene, during a television interview has made world news.

More than 25 000 views of the clip on video-sharing website YouTube had been recorded by Thursday, and his fall also made it to the BBC and Telegraph's websites.

Nene was filmed in an interview on SABC2's View from the House on Tuesday morning. A cracking sound is heard, but he continues talking.

This is followed by another cracking sound and he falls to the floor, scrabbling at the table briefly, as the chair collapses under him.

The video, which has caused much mirth, has also been doing the rounds on social networking sites such as Facebook and is the subject of debate on radio talk shows.

A Google search on his name showed links to numerous local and international sites featuring the video, or commenting on it.

On South Africa's video- sharing site Zoopy, viewers wrote:

"Hahahahahah, I watched this video 20 times - no i think the chairman should take his chair next time", and "Classic shadow encounter! He went down with the rand".

His office said he was alright after the fall and did not want to comment to the media, which had been swamping him. "He doesn't want to entertain it anymore."

Similar embarrassing moments have been experienced by US President George Bush, who found a door was locked as he tried to leave a room after a press conference in Beijing.

Nene reportedly told Sowetan newspaper: "This is a reflection of the type of media we have in this country."

He said the incident and media hype would not be good for his public image.

"It reflects more on me than on them (SABC). I don't want to blow this out of proportion. It was a minor fall," he said.

The newspaper asked if his weight had anything to do with it and he said: "I know that I am heavy, but I sit on these chairs all the time. It can't be my weight."

The SABC said that both Nene and presenter Hayde Fitzpatrick had handled the incident with professionally.

She immediately moved to an ad break while studio staff made sure Nene had not been hurt and he resumed his interview after the break.

The SABC has apologised to him, but is also investigating how the clip managed to make the rounds outside the corporation.

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