Do not see this as an attack on one person, body or another but rather as an opportunity to learn from the observations of a long serving cynic with an over enlarged sense of fair play sauced with political and social class indignation….
Work that one out Amateur Psychologist!
Let us set the scene:
The ANC recently lost their political dominance in Nelson Mandela Bay – a crushing blow in their own heartland. One would think that the remaining ANC politicians in National Government would be eager to demonstrate that they are the party of choice and carry the hopes and aspirations of the ‘little people’.
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, was scheduled to open the Nyathi Rest Camp at 8:00 am on Sunday so I duly left home at 7:00 am to be in Addo in time. En Route we were told that he minister would be late – owing to the mist a scheduled helicopter flight was canceled.
Fair enough we thought as the new time of 10:00 am was given – she eventually arrived at 10:30 am to open the Nyathi Rest Camp.
NOW – this is where a savvy Public Relations expert would have excelled in wringing maximum exposure out of this event by making sure that the gathered media contingent all got a chance to film and record the historic unveiling followed by interviews with the Minister with a scenic backdrop of the Rest Camp. BUT no, the vertically challenged Minister piled into her vehicle and was whisked off at speed leaving the media shocked and p!ssed off.
There ensued a chase along dusty roads as the Minister showed a clean pair of heels hotfooting it to the main Addo Park. Access to the ride along through the park by the Minister was denied the media who then sped off to the Main Event in the Park.
Eventually the Minister acceded to interviews outside the park’s admin offices, then disappeared for a while, then went on a walkabout of the exhibitions finally entering the main marquee where lunch was to be served two hours after the scheduled start time of 11h30.
In the marquee were dignitaries and SANParks employees who had been patiently waiting since early morning.
At the Media Table there were first four and then two members present out of a contingent of twenty or so. As I said they were p!ssed off at the possibility of missing deadlines from having to wait for a very unapologetic minister.
Result: When the Minister eventually began her keynote speech at 2:25 pm no media covered it at all.
MORE lost opportunities for the ruling party and, MORE IMPORTANTLY, for South Africa and SANParks.
Most insulting of all the Minister then told everyone that she looked so fresh and awake because she had spent a night in glamorous accommodation in the Tsitsikamma National Park and encouraged everyone to do the same.
The MESSAGE that I got from that was; “Look how privileged and magnificent I am to be able to make you all wait whilst I sleep in luxury and am then chauffeured everywhere.” How out of touch Minister, how out of touch. I can only dream of staying where you did!
All through the speeches and self aggrandizing not one of the speakers had the decency to apologise for being late or even to cut their speech to a few lines – they all took their alloted time and, in the Minister’s case, what was scheduled to take 30 minutes took 65 minutes.
In a moment from a John Cleese skit, insult was added to injury when the prizegiving was held – all of a sudden the prize winners were told to hurry up as the programme had run over time. NOT a way to motivate staff and stakeholders I am sure.
Lunch was eventually served at 3:40 pm. Not surprisingly the chicken was dry and cold.
Of course who was served FIRST? Edna and mates! Walking out after eating I felt shamed to see that the people who had been waiting forever for Edna were only then being served food.
It has to be said that Edna missed a Golden Opportunity to promote herself, SANParks, South Africa and the Ruling Party – all she could have done was to stop at each table on her way in, thank the people for waiting and apologise for being late. I bet that would have secured sympathy and votes.
In complete contrast was what a Tourism Marketer said to me on that same day about the new Mayoral Committee Members in Nelson Mandela Bay – specifically Andrew Whitfield. Apparently Andrew, in less than a month of service, has had more contact and engagements with this Marketer and his events than the previous incumbent had in the previous four years.
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