How to Marry a Politician and Survive

By HELEN GRANGE Time of article published Feb 13, 2015

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You spotted the designer wives of the men of state at yesterday’s State of the Nation address, and you wanted to be there. You can find out how in a outrageously cheeky book, writes Helen Grange

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so how about giving some serious thought to marriage? Not just to anyone, but a politician!

You read about politicians’ wives in the social pages and wonder how they landed a life of pomp and privilege. But rather than envy them, how about learning to crack the code to becoming one yourself?

Even if you don’t aspire to be a wife to a politician, you may as well learn how to bag a man with prospects and have a good giggle at the same time.

Enter Nia Magoulianiti-McGregor’s How To Marry a Politician and Survive, a delightfully irreverent guide to luring a distinguished man in public office down the aisle, then enjoying the bounties of your conquest.

No slouch in the man-conquest department herself, Magoulianiti-McGregor pulls no punches in this cheeky manual, which is both entertaining and educational, bristling with tried-and-tested lessons in how to get him to “put a ring on it” (thanks, Beyoncé).

As she points out, “What has Gugu Mtshali got that you haven’t? You also want Liquid Chefs on your big day. And to arrive in a white, lacy mermaid dress in a black Porsche Cayenne to marry a distinguished (read: ageing but still hot) former main man (Kgalema Motlanthe) in front of fabulous guests that include a deputy president (Cyril Ramaphosa), an opposition leader (Mangosuthu Buthelezi), a mayor (Parks Tau) – hey, even Tokyo Sexwale was there.”

The author provides a map of how to get to this point over 10 chuckle-inducing chapters, starting with “The 3 P’s: Pomp, Power and the Politician”, where you get to understand the personality type of your target politician.

“He may be the eldest child or just mama’s favourite. JZ was the eldest child. FW de Klerk was the favourite child. And remember, over half of US presidents were first-borns. He had mama’s unwavering gaze on him from the moment he emerged from that nurturing womb.

Remember what father of analysis Sigmund Freud, an eldest child himself, said: ‘A man who has been the indisputable favourite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror.’ And babe, he has conquered you, hasn’t he?,” she writes.

Occasionally Magoulianiti-McGregor takes a gratifying potshot, as in chapter 2, where you learn where to hunt your political “prey”. For example: “Some of the ‘bling politicians’ (BPs) hang out together. Juju likes fancy clubs in Rosebank and Fourways and enjoys the company of Floyd Shivambu and Andile Mngxitama who was once seen quaffing expensive glasses of whisky at The Maslow hotel in Sandton (which, for some reason, he denied). He couldn’t really deny being seen at Kitchener’s in Braamfontein as there was a photo of him propping up the bar in Sunday World.”

It’s not all tongue-in-cheek chunks of wisdom from a fellow “sistah”. Magoulianiti-McGregor has done her homework as well, interviewing a myriad experts, including international educator John Demartini; sexual health practitioner Elna McIntosh; etiquette expert Tselane Tambo; sex educator and flirt coach Catriona Boffard; coach Chi-Chi Muzariri; and even personal trainer at Virgin Active Metro Ramulifho, who imparts tips on how to get “bootylicious”.

There’s also a jocular glossary of words and phrases you should familiarise yourself with, like Breitling – “expensive but necessary watch of choice for certain politicians in order to help inspire the poor”; and Johnnie Walker – “a guy without a car. Best avoided unless he is also a Ben 10”, defined as a “young male lover of an older, usually grateful woman, easily identified by the huge smile on her face”.

Then there’s a good sprinkling of “tests” to see how well you’re doing on the learning curve. To give you an idea, one question goes:

A shady businessperson offers your new husband a discount on a very nice car in exchange for a government tender. You:

a) Say “Darling, corruption is one of the country’s biggest hurdles. Are you sure no one will find out?”

b) Write down all details, names and facts in case you need to blackmail him later.

c) Say, “Oh yay. Is it enough for a new Merc 4x4?!”

Before you take a feminist position on this raucous, fun-ride of a book, know that Magoulianiti-McGregor has thought about that and puts her position thus: “Some serious people may accuse you of taking feminism back 20 years by reading this book, and, of course, they are correct. Yes, women should be planning their own political careers, not plotting a marriage heist, but sometimes a girl needs a jump-start and to ride some coat tails for a few years before hitting her own straps.

“Ask Hillary Clinton. Or Grace Mugabe. Or Cory Aquino of the Philippines, who went from shy housewife to leader of the people. Comprendo, comrade?”

• How To Marry a Politician and Survive is published by KMM Review Publishing Company and is available from all leading book stores from this month for R174.95.


Take the quiz

1. Veronica Lario is…

a) Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s estranged wife, who scored big-time after she left that geriatric.

b) Someone who should have known better.

c) A new perfume.

2. Nkandla renovations cost:

a) Around R246 million.

b) Pay Back the Money.

c) A few million but I hear security upgrades and fire pools are very expensive.

(I wouldn’t mind a fire pool. Er, what is a fire pool?)

4. Which is your favourite parliamentary quote:

a) “While the honourable Mazibuko may be a person of substantial weight, her stature is questionable.”

b) “Jacob Zuma’s cows must pay the e-toll.”

c) I don’t think what they say in Parliament has anything to do with us.

6. Where can you buy sexy, lacy panties?

a) Outside Parliament in the EFF branded merchandise corner.

b) I don’t buy underwear that objectifies me.

c) La Senza.

Complete the sentence: Dali Mpofu is…

a) A member of the EFF and a respected advocate.

b) Trouble. What was Winnie thinking?

c) Tjo. Quite the charmza!

If you ever meet Steve Hofmeyr, you will…

a) Teach him to sing the entire national anthem before having a serious discussion on social cohesion and ways to build a nation.

b) Tell him you are a crack shot and he should watch his unfaithful ass.

c) Ensure you’ve taken your birth-control pill that day.

You think your political husband may be contemplating a divorce. The first thing you do is…

a) Make an appointment with divorce attorney Billy Gundelfinger so hubby can’t.

b) Make an appointment with a gun-for-hire.

c) Make an appointment with a marriage counsellor.

Your memoir would start like this:

a) I had a politician husband in Africa.

b) Aluta Continua.

c) It was a dark and stormy night.


Mostly A’s: You are the quintessential political wife who may well have aspirations of becoming numero uno herself one day. Good.

You secretly admire Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s hair but not her style of political wifedom. You know that too much sex and he will not concentrate on the big prize. You keep the balance right.

Keep in mind what Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, once said: “The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.” You will make a better leader than any man. You are not just a trophy wife. He’s the trophy and you want it. Read on. You will get it.

Mostly B’s: Thank you for taking time out of your anger management meeting to do this test. It is better that you don’t marry a politician. You won’t last a year. Neither will he. And then there’ll be police and a messy trial.

Forget about joining the ANC Women’s League. Although the league has decided that South Africa finally is ready for a female president, this being the 21st century and all, they’re backing JZ’s ex or anyone from KZN. Are you from KZN? Rather become a dominatrix for kicks instead – or the CEO of Anglo American.

And we’re not saying etiquette is everything, but the steak knife is for cutting meat, not his manly bits.

Mostly C’s: You imagine the best political wives are neat, smiling women with little on their minds aside from redecorating the presidential palace and going indigenous with the garden. You’re probably right.

You will make a good political wife. Just not a particularly interesting one.

Do one thing today that scares you, perhaps like forgetting the pale lipstick. Just for a day. You don’t want to be upgraded when your “best before” date is up.

Remember, a replacement may undo all your hard charity work and even re-catalogue the bibliographic entries in the library. Eish.

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