File picture: Paul Sakuma/AP

It's not often we get a chance to come over all French here at the Mahogany Ridge, but it seems there’s a contretemps in Paris over the approval of the country’s first sex doll brothel.
Yes, vive le difference and all that, but communist and other ultra-left councillors have introduced a motion denouncing XDolls, which opened in the city’s upscale 14th arrondissement, as an insult to women.

What’s more, according to The Times of London, they claim the brothel, which charges the equivalent of about R1300 an hour, contravenes legislation outlawing prostitution and they want the place shut down.

Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard, a socialist, has dismissed the motion as a waste of time. Police had inspected the brothel, he said. “They checked to see if it caused public disorder and, on the face of it, that is not the case. Everything is in order. There are no complaints from neighbours yet.”

We can’t help wondering whether the experience might leave punters feeling short changed and there could be complaints with the trade descriptions department. Is it possible, for example, that a glorified mannequin could throw its back into the work and perform the requisite exaggerated moaning as it feigns la petite mort? What of the fevered whispers of vous beau diable and mon petit chou and other sweet nothings?

The more tech-savvy among the Ridge regulars suggest it is possible to program these “sexbots”, as the Elon Musks among us refer to them, to do all this and more. But such lip service will, of course, be especially mechanical and devoid of sincerity.

Much like our deputy president, David Mabuza, preaching to us about moral regeneration on Human Rights Day. True, there came all the right noises when he addressed a rally in Sharpeville, Vereeniging, on Wednesday. There was prattle of ethical conduct, that leaders become public servants once more, serving at all levels of government.

“Our state,” Mabuza said, “must be led by men and women of high moral rectitude and dedication; people who have made it their mission to selflessly serve and improve the lives of ordinary South Africans; people who have nothing else but the interest of our nation at heart.”

But it was rather brazen that Mabuza should declare that, even as we celebrated our human rights, “we have many questions to answer to in our quest for renewal and unity”.

Frankly, it is Mabuza who has a great many questions to answer - chiefly about his journey from the badlands of Mpumalanga, where he was premier, to the Union Buildings via the controversial horse trading at the ANC elective conference in December where he delivered the party’s leadership to a severely compromised Cyril Ramaphosa.

It is a trail of the dead, as the DA whip John Steenhuisen charged, when he questioned Mabuza in the National Assembly on Tuesday about the spate of “morally repugnant” political assassinations in the province.

The murdered include Mombela municipality speaker Jimmy Mohlala, who lifted the lid on tender corruption surrounding the construction of a 2010 Fifa World Cup stadium, and former ANC Youth League provincial secretary James Nkambule, who was allegedly poisoned after claiming Mabuza was behind the political assassinations in the province.

Steenhuisen was careful not to explicitly link Mabuza with these murders. Still, his questions did not sit well with the deputy president and, if looks could spit, well, Steenhuisen would still be surfing.

The implication nevertheless remained that, whatever their moral rectitude, there was no place for whistleblowers in Mpumalanga’s “ethical” politics.

There are many other questions Mabuza could answer. Among others, these relate to his alleged poisoning in 2015, when he was forced to take two months’ leave and the alleged disappearance of R14million in cash following a burglary at his farm house in December 2009.

The latter is particularly odd. At the time, it was claimed Mabuza reported only R4m missing, as R14m was too much and “would have raised eyebrows”. When Mpumalanga’s organised crime unit investigated the matter, they concluded a mere R1200 had been taken - thus relegating the incident to one of petty theft which conveniently went nowhere sharpish.

It is probable that, with time, we may get some answers. How much of a liability Mabuza will be in the interim remains to be seen.

* Andrew Donaldson’s A Famous Grouse column is published every Saturday.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.