It's official. The party that will rule South Africa "until Jesus comes back" is not subject to earthly constraints. You and I must keep our cars off the emergency shoulder. Likewise we avoid bus lanes, and especially Joburg's inner-city Rea Vaya lanes. But our other-worldly rulers who govern by divine right are different, of course.
A report in Beeld this week started baldly: "No parking, except for ANC leaders."
And the accompanying pic showed seven ANC vehicles parked in the Rea Vaya strip, opposite one of the alighting points and conveniently close to the ANC provincial headquarters at Walter Sisulu House in Commissioner Street.
Explained party spinmeister Dumisa Ntuli: "The ruling party has a special arrangement with the City of Johannesburg." I'll bet.
It took me back to my report last year on our Sandton ladies' book club, when the little granny with a heart of gold and teeth of steel (courtesy of Soviet dentistry) detailed the privileges enjoyed by the Communist Party nomenklatura in the bad old days, including dedicated traffic routes down the middle of Moscow's wide boulevards, where the leaders' limos swooshed past the proles trudging through the snow in threadbare boots.
At least in today's Moscow they are fed up with this nonsense (not that it's getting them anywhere, though). Demonstrators paraded outside government offices there this week with children's blue buckets atop their heads, mocking the blue lights on the cop cars guarding the new Russian elite. Others fixed them to their cars, turning out in such numbers that they blocked streets. The blue bucket brigade were peeved at their new boss class getting away with ignoring the rules of the road. Does that sound vaguely familiar? Over here, we just show the finger, and you know what happens then...
The messiah complex is everywhere. In Britain, the ultra-smoothie lightweight (he could slide uphill in a breeze, that one) Nick Clegg, of the Lib Dems, was introduced thus at an election rally: "He thinks for you. He sees for you. He has the vision for you." I got a warm feeling down my leg when I read that.
It took me back to a work by the late leftist Brazilian theorist Paulo Freire, who kept this gem for a footnote in his book Education for Critical Consciousness. Describing publicity for "a certain Brazilian public figure", he wrote: "The bust of the candidate was displayed with arrows pointing to his head, his eyes, his mouth, and his hands. Next to the arrows appeared the legend:
"You don't need to think, he thinks for you!
"You don't need to see, he sees for you!
"You don't need to talk, he talks for you!
"You don't need to act, he acts for you!"
Wonderful! Here in South Africa we'd certainly rather that you didn't think at all.