By Kavisha Pillay
Government’s recently released Guptagate probe report – and the media storm that ensued – have inspired this Corruption Watch reporter to take a momentary break from her graft-fighting duties to dream up a new reality TV show called The Wedding Planners…Tjo-Tjo style starring the suspended chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane and Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson.
Wed.ding plan.ner (noun)
Conventional definition – “a professional who assists with the design, planning and management of a client’s wedding”
South Africa’s definition – “a top official in government who shirks his or her daily duties to assist in coordinating a wedding for a family with close ties to the president”
Most women dream of that perfect wedding, one that is carried off without so much of a hint of complication, so all attention can be focussed on the glowing bride.
But in the case of Vega Gupta there were an abundance of mishaps and it was all eyes on the plane, not the dress. So who do we blame?
There is no shortage of US reality shows covering nuptials, especially ones showing outlandish wedding planners who come to the rescue of panic-stricken brides.
In many of these shows, wedding planners have to meet the unreasonable demands of the wedding party and heaven forbid if the serviettes clash with the bunting or the cake forks don’t arrive on time.
In such cases, it’s the wedding planner who will have to face the bride’s full wrath. However, in South Africa things work a bit differently. Our wedding planners include officials from government’s top brass who have a habit of name-dropping to get the job done.
And when things go pear-shaped, it’s not only the bridal party who get shirty, it’s the entire country.
But, let us not be too critical of our home-grown wedding planners, because their experience in the industry tops that of their American counterparts.
Before the whole ruckus, Koloane and Anderson were at the top of their game when it came to meeting the demands of the bridal family.
When the Guptas were denied the use of OR Tambo International Airport as a landing base for their VIP guests, Koloane approached the defence minister’s political adviser to assist in gaining permission for the use of Waterkloof instead, and went as far as claiming he was under pressure from “Number 1.”
Now here’s a tip for all those brides-to-be out there who are planning a destination wedding in South Africa: advise your wedding planner to drop a few names such as Nathi Mthethwa, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and “Number 1”, and this will open doors to a multiplicity of privileges.
Firstly, your guests will land at a strategic military base and as soon as they arrive, two red carpets will be laid out. A reception lounge will be set up at the airport offering a variety of entertainment.
While your guests are enjoying the “welcome reception” at the air base, wedding planner Anderson and two from her team will collect the visitors’ passports to be processed by the immigration officers.
There will be 50 vehicles available to transport your visitors to the destination. The vehicles will be divided into four convoys of 15 vehicles each, with one police vehicle to lead the convoy and one traffic vehicle at the rear. Members of the SAPS Flying Squad will also be available outside the airbase.
If your destination wedding is at the Sun City Resort and Casino, you will receive additional perks. SAPS Gauteng will deploy 31 cars and 62 members for route security and the province will develop a highway patrol matrix (we have no idea what this is, but it sounds very fancy) to guide the procession.
The North West flying squad, which includes five cars and six members, will meet you at the Brits Toll Plaza and escort your guests to the destination. In total, a sum of 70 security vehicles will be deployed by your wedding planner to take the guests from the air force base to Sun City.
Unfortunately all these perks come at a price. Your entire wedding – which took months to plan and cost an unbelievable amount of money – will be upstaged by a plane, name-dropping and illegal blue light brigades. No-one will care about the garments you wore or if the food was any good, the only thing the public wants to know is whether or not “Number 1” has anything to do with it.
The Guptagate scandal has all the ingredients to become a star reality TV show or better yet, it can be turned into a full-length movie with the title My Big Fat Gupta Wedding.
Directors won’t have a tough time churning out the script, as they can base it on the findings of the “investigation” … it will be the box-office comedy hit of the year.
So here’s another tip for prospective brides, if you are planning a destination wedding in South Africa, rather do the planning yourselves because our wedding planners still have a lot to learn!