Parly's night shift

2010 is proving to be a year of firsts and fun surprises indeed.

The year, at only 20 days old, has already had its fair share of jaw-dropping news, both pleasant and unpleasant: Haiti being in a chaotic state after a devastating earthquake last week; then-13-day-old baby Ashleigh Louw’s three-hour heart operation at Baragwanath Hospital; the nation once again divided over presidential pardons and the deservedness of applicants.

Ah, but there is, of course, pleasant news.

Ke nako! So goes the 2010 World Cup tagline, and it is indeed time for getting rid of the old way of doing things and opening ourselves up to new possibilities.
Yup, let’s embrace the spirit of adjusting the rules here and there, shall we?

And speaking of new possibilities, who would’ve thought South Africans would see the day when they could eat supper and at the same time take in the president’s view of the state of our nation?

In case you’ve missed the news, President Jacob Zuma will be on your TV screen at about 7pm on Thursday February 11 to present his State of the Nation Address, the low-down on how things are and will be for the remainder of the year. Zuma chose the anniversary of the historic day of former president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison 20 years ago for his address—despite it falling on a Thursday and going against the tradition of opening Parliament on the morning of the second Friday of February.

And in true Zuma style, the decision on the time of the address was made with ordinary South Africans in mind.

“The president changed the time to 7pm to afford all South Africans, especially the workers, students and schoolchildren, an opportunity to watch the proceedings in their homes after hours,” said Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya.

“The majority of workers do not have access to television sets at work, while students and schoolchildren are naturally unable to watch due to study commitments during the day, when this is an important occasion for them as well.”

An evening opening of Parly, by all accounts, will also mean a break in the tradition of fashion styles that the regulars among our esteemed office-bearers have paraded. If my predictions are right, MPs will be ditching those large-brim hats and exquisite sunglasses for glittering gowns and tuxedoes, and may well spend much time over the next two weeks watching old coverage of the Oscars for pointers on how to work that red carpet.

However, it’s probably best that the less-is-more approach of the red carpet at Oscars shouldn’t find its way to South Africa’s opening of Parliament.

Personally, I would mind seeing Baleka Mbete and Bridgette Radebe insisting on wearing those colourful head wraps they like in favour of, say, weaves. I’m no fashion expert, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing like the perfect-tone weave to make a light-skinned girl like Bridge look great, and it’s more appropriate for evening wear than a wrap.

One thing I definitely hope for is that the MPs, especially the women, will use the opportunity to give fashion critics something to talk about, and really make taxpayers’ money count by ditching the traditional Xhosa and Venda outfits of years past in favour of some elegant glitz and glamour. The bar has been raised, and I’m sure anyone in the fashion industry can tell you it’s much easier to mess up an afternoon-appropriate costume than it is with its evening counterpart.

As for the male invitees, I have three words: NO CASUAL SHIRTS! And that applies to all who think these make a fashion statement.

Bantu Holomisa, a lover of such shirts, isn’t too happy with the whole idea of going nocturnal. He is more worried about the media and opposition not being given enough time to “reflect on the speech” on the night. Bantu, there’s always Friday morning to do that, isn’t there?

Another concern of the former military ruler is that the security of dignitaries will be compromised. I think, if anything, Mr Holomisa should concern himself with checking the availability of tuxedo-hire shops in the Cape.

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