If Julius Malema, the energetic leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, ever starts singing your praises then run for the hills. It means your economy is about to collapse. Remember how Malema used to regale us with tales of the great and wonderful Hugo Chavez of Venezuela?
Remember how we were told that the future of SA would be bright and wonderful and fulfilling if we followed the Venezuelan economic model?
Fast forward to last weekend, when more than 100,000 Venezuelans crossed into neighbouring Colombia to hunt for foods and medicine that are in short supply at home.
Associated Press reported that "it was the second weekend in a row that Venezuela’s socialist government opened the long-closed border with Colombia, and by 6am Sunday, a line of would-be shoppers snaked through the entire town of San Antonio del Táchira. Some had travelled in chartered buses from cities 10 hours away."
As Malcolm Ferguson and Greg Mills wrote in 2014: "How, one might ask, is this even possible in a country whose oil wealth during the past decade — averaging 2.7m barrels per day — has provided the equivalent of US$1,000 (R10,000) per family per month, or $200m per day in government income?"
Another one of Malema’s friends who is coming face to face with reality is Robert Gabriel Mugabe. This great socialist — whose family owns 19 farms — has been having a spot of bother with his people.
Now, in 2012 when Malema visited Zimbabwe, he received what newspapers called "five-star treatment from Mugabe and his party members which was capped with a visit to State House where he met with Mugabe". In April 2010, when Malema visited Zimbabwe, he received a herd of cattle from Zanu PF as a gift.
Well, now that civil society leaders in Zimbabwe are up in arms about Mugabe’s ruinous policies and dictatorial leadership style, Malema has stopped praising Mugabe. Just as he once said he would kill for President Jacob Zuma, he is now singing a very different tune.
Last week he tweeted: "We are on the side of the people of Zimbabwe, never be governed by fear. The people always win like you did in the 1980s, victory is certain ..."
Oh, he is now with the people, is he? You cannot make this stuff up.
Which is why my friends and I decided to treat ourselves to a five-star meal at the now-not-so-new Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. There were four of us meeting at the restaurant The View. Our lovely wives had arrived earlier for birthday drinks, and my friend The Mystery Reviewer — he who always has three dishes — and I arrived at 8pm. Service has always been excellent and remains so. What a treasure Ngozo is.
The restaurant is called The View but we were in a room — with about five other tables — without much of a view of anything. Maybe it should be called The Glimpse of Jo’burg. You have to lean to see the Hillbrow Tower. Not good.
We ate like kings. Quail eggs? Excellent. Sea bass carpaccio? Middling. Pork belly? Near perfect. Duck? Divine. Salmon fillet? Poor. Kingklip? Why bother? The Steenberg Semillon and the Haskell Aeon shiraz made for perfect accompaniments.
The View is very good, has history and traditions and a great location. It is very very good. It just needs a little oomph to take it to great.
Let me not quibble, though. We ate like kings and queens and drank like revolutionaries, secure in the knowledge that this is not Venezuela or Zimbabwe. Let’s keep it that way.
***½ The View Restaurant
Four Seasons Hotel, The Westcliff,
67 Jan Smuts Avenue,
Tel: (011) 481-6000
***** Thuli Madonsela