You could not make it up.
Picture the scene: a cluster of journalists massed around the stand where the one potentially-worthwhile freebie from the BRICS Summit was being handed out – a fully plastic goodie-bag.
All those hours of boring BRICS banter could be worth it. Rich rewards could be contained inside.
And the contents? A scarf-like thing, with little aesthetic value. A book. A notepad. No, not one of those shiny electronic gadgets, but an old-fashioned, 19th Century notebook and pen.
This at a Summit where one of the themes was the 4th Industrial Revolution. Conference organisers had clearly not done their homework. Old, old tech.
However, the best of surprises; the worst of surprises….was yet to come.
Hidden inside the bag was a label.
Proudly proclaiming that the goody bag for the Johannesburg BRICS Summit……was made in China.
Now, of course, the Chinese are a BRICS partner, and have just announced big loans to Eskom and Transnet, two of SA’s most proudly-corrupt and parasital parastatals.
They have a disgraceful human rights record, some of the worst smog in the world, and are only redeemed by having perfected some of the world’s best food. Even if Fortune Cookies are believed to have come from San Francisco, not Shanghai.
However, surely the point of a Summit is to showcase the excellence of the host nation, not that of the visitors.
You would not expect to have Mrs Ball’s with your sweet and sour pork in Beijing, boerewors in your Brazilian Feijoada in Rio, biltong curry in Delhi or vodka and rooibos in Moscow.
So was it too much to expect that the Summit organisers might have tried to find a bag that was a bit more ethnic, a bit more African? A bit less plastic-y to hand out to the media hoards.
Maybe it was. An afternoon BRICS business discussion drew just two of the BRICS Leaders – our own Cyril Ramaphosa and the Chinese Premier, a chap who went on and on about a BRICS friend of his called Win Win. Or at least that is how it sounded.
Having bagged their bags, most media low-lives were barred from this session, which started half an hour late. This left Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who was MC, standing at the podium in embarrassed silence while sweating minions went on a Cyril-hunt.
Earlier, when we had been admitted to a morning session, we had to go up five levels of the Sandton Convention Centre, walk the length of the building, and then back down three levels to gain access to the conference.
Yep, those bag-bungling bozos seemed to get everywhere.
The BRICS style themselves as emerging nations.
Judging by the Summit screw-ups, South Africa has more emerging to do than most.
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