They come tearing up behind you on the highway, at 160 km/h or more (usually more, some have said), blue lights flashing; sirens sometimes wailing. These are the “official” cars that convey political VIPs, usually MEC’s of South Africa’s nine Provincial Legislatures. The drivers are from the police’s VIP Protection Services, and have become more commonly known as “blue light policemen” or the “blue light brigade,” since the recent spate of incidences on our highways, involving them forcing (with guns blazing in some instances) innocent motorists out of their way.
No way, you say; that sounds just like something out of a Hollywood movie. Yes, it does indeed sound like something that would be dished up in cliched movies, featuring butt-ugly, power-hungry, maniacal third-world dictators. You always see these cretins on film, being driven through the streets in convoy, usually displacing people, animals and assorted objects from their path. But here in South Africa ordinary people and the media are saying that Hollywood is being acted out, in gratuitous detail and they say that South Africa has become another ‘banana republic”. In the most recent incident, VIP Protection officer, Hlanganani Nxumalo not only forced other drivers out of the path of his speeding, blue-light-flashing vehicle, on a national highway, but shot at another motorist who it seems was a bit tardy in giving way, which caused the unfortunate driver to lose control, crash into another vehicle, and result in eight injuries. And he was not even transporting a Provincial MEC at the time, but was on his way to pick him up for official business.
To make matters worse, that degenerate Provincial MEC, none other than KwaZulu-Natal social welfare MEC, Meshack Radebe, tried disingenuously to excuse the behaviour of the “blue light driver” by saying “Our drivers are trained to protect us. We are heading to elections and they need to ensure our safety. If a driver behaves like that, how do they know we are not being ambushed? Their reaction is to just push aside and shoot.” What arrogant logic from a public official. Ah yes, Meshack, let’s treat everyone as potential ambushers; let’s push aside and shoot them all, just to be safe.
Fortunately, South Africa is not replete with ignorant political cretins such as Meshack Radebe. The South African political structure has been re-built on sound foundations since the demise of Apartheid, and a few detractors such as Meshack notwithstanding, boasts a proud record of sustained democratic political stability. South Africa has achieved a great deal, both politically and economically since 1994. So, it is a bit harsh when the public start to label the country as a banana republic run by despots, when a small minority of politicians behave inappropriately.
And thus we come to a possible real cause of the incidents involving these “blue light drivers.” The behaviour of these drivers are a manifestation of the illusions of grandeur being experienced by the MEC’s being transported. These MEC’s somehow feel the need to publicly flaunt their perceived powers. Their inadequacies and incompetence’s within the areas of their public office, seem to manifest into a need to display arrogance and a show of bravado instead. The drivers assigned as VIP protection to these MEC’s, get caught up in the delusional world of those they are assigned to protect. Call me biased if you want, but you rarely hear of “blue light brigade” incidences where National politicians were involved. The incidences always seem to involve lesser politicians from Provincial Legislatures. Now what does that tell you?