Straight & 2 beers: Some are more equal than others

Johannesburg – Someone I hadn’t seen in ages tried to shake my hand this week.

I nearly jumped out of my skin.

“Sir, stand back, stand back,” I shouted in my best impersonation of a Special Weapons and Tactics sergeant and wished I was holding a laser gun to force him to maintain physical distance.

He was taken aback, but recovered quickly to offer his elbow for a bump with mine.

I was having none of it.

The only greeting that suffices in the era of the pandemic is the Sawubona of my forbears: “Molo mhlobo wam,” hollered a kilometre away from the neighbouring village.

I could not believe that this fellow wanted to break the World Health Organisation hygiene protocols by shaking my hand.

I was not intimating that his palms were soaked in Covid-19, but what if mine were infected and I was asymptomatic? And therein, dear reader, lies the rub.

No one knows where the pathogen is lurking. I know some of you are still blissfully shaking hands, hugging and doing cheek-to-cheek out there, but peer pressure has never been my companion.

I never leave my house without my space suit. In my book, a cloth mask is hardly enough to step out of my door. Imagine my shock and horror then when I was watching the funeral of the late minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, last weekend and Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni- Tsipane sashayed into the venue sans face mask. For starters, Mthembu’s passing was revealed as Covid-related.

The first lady of the province of the rising sun was oblivious to the facts and her focus was only on making a grand entrance in the presence of her bosses from the national government. In the presence of President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza, Mtsweni-Tsipane strutted like she was called to the stage to receive her Oscar statuette. She must have been overwhelmed by hosting the big shots from Gauteng. This was her moment and she could not mask her glee even under such solemn circumstances. The venue was teeming with cameras from all the TV networks and beamed throughout the country.

As if invading a gathering without a mask was not enough, she lurched at some hapless police officer and hugged her like her BFF (best friend forever). The viewers and mourners stood agape and waited for the police to slap handcuffs on the premier’s manicured paws. Alas, that did not happen. Had she been an ordinary Mbali or Thabo, the Mpumalanga premier would have been hauled to the nearest foul-smelling police holding cell for her offending conduct.

Clearly, Mtsweni- Tsipane had missed the family meeting wherein we were told wearing a mask in public is mandatory. When it was later pointed out that she had broken the regulations of her own government, she tried to spin it. But later when common sense gripped her, she went to a local cop shop and reported herself and paid a fine.

She also apologised and undertook to donate a thousand masks to make amends. Mtsweni- Tsipane was not the first leader to take us for granted and she won’t be the last.

Vusi Nzapheza.

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