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 Head Of Mission Profile

 

   

H.E. .Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout - SA Ambassador to Bapetikosweti 1981 - 1989

DS: What direction did your diplomatic career take after South Africa achieved its freedom?

HE: It ended as unexpectedly as official apartheid did. On the Monday people opened doors for me and chauffered my car; on Tuesday I found I couldn't unlock doors because I had no keys, and there was no more car. My diplomatic immunity was no longer a  means to an end. In fact, there was no immunity as an excuse for a lack of personal opinion. I was now a free citizen. Nelson Mandela gave that to me. He took away all the black homelands and gave us one black homeland called South Africa..

DS: Place in Bapetikosweti that you still visit

HE: The village of Laagerfontein still has traces of its fifteen minutes of fame because the Casino of Lunaville is close, as is our farm Liefdesbodem. During the years of my tenure, the estate was known as Blanche-Noir and truly I entertained the highest and the most controversial politicians of the day, those who could be disguised and so escape the boycotts and sanctions of anything that represented the NP Goverment.

DS: Your impression about the 20 year-old South Africa in three words

HE: Beyond all expectations!

DS: Most memorable moment as an Ambassador

 HE: Oh my goodness. 'Memorable' is not a word I can use. I was no Hilary Clinton or Margaret Thatcher. I did prevent the visiting Senator Edward Kennedy from driving my daughter Billie-Jeaane over a rickety bridge on our farm; I did allow General Magnus Malan to store farming equipment in our spare garage which turned out to be six nuclear bombs we had 'borrowed' from Israel. My chickens lost all their feathers in the radiation and were vitually broiled while alive. And I stood up against the chauvinism of male members of the apartheid regime. Minister Piet Koornhof was soon eating out of my hand and Pik Botha even believed the vicious rumours that he and I were having an affair.

DS: Most challenging situation that you had to handle as a Diplomat

HE: While I was not versed in the intrigues of the profession in how to represent your country to a hostile world for good or ill, I managed to find a balance between what was policy and what was corruption. I even hear leaders in present day upheavels using PW Botha's words: 'We will do everything in our power to protect our people from terrorism.' I started handing out koeksisters to some of my part-time staff - garden boys and drivers - and today they are prominent comrades in the ANC structures. I sensed there was more to them then just saying 'Yes Madam'.

DS: My inspiration is/comes from...

HE: ...my mother, Ouma Ossewania Kakebenia Poggenpoel, who always said: 'Moenie bang wees nie; alles sal regkom' - don't be frightened; everything will come right.

DS: One place you would like to have been posted to or to have visited

HE: I originally thought I would be sent to the UN Mission in New York to take over the catering, but PW Botha made me an offer I could not refuse. And dared not refuse, otherwise I would have ended up in Mongolia. Bapetikosweti wasn't too bad. Just an hour from Pretoria and only six pieces of it dotted all over white South Africa.

 DSMost interesting place in South Africa

HE:  The Constitutional Court for what the place represented before democracy and what it contributes now to our democracy. I am proud to have chosen the wallpaper in some of  the ladies restrooms.

DS: Most interesting place to visit elsewhere

HE: At the moment it is Nkandla in KZN. President Zuma has tantalized us all by spending R245 million of taxpayer's money on a cluster of rondawels that look like a retirement village outside Hermanus. But I believe the real residence is hidden down seven floors. One floor per wife and some to spare.

DS: Favourite dish of your country

HE:  My fame is thanks to bobotie. The Queen loves it. Prince Philip calls it mousaka, but then he is an old Greek …

DSTastiest dish of another Country.

HE: Indira Ghandi introduced me to some rare and tasty curries which can also cure a multitude of ills, so India always gets my nod.

DSThe best book I have ever read.

HE: Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski  which focuses on the medias contempt for the rise of Adolf Hitler whom they rejected as a hasbeen lunatic on the political fringe. But then a financial crash is a gift from the gods. Hitler had his in 1929; Julius Malema is having his now.

DS: At the moment I am reading

HE: Zelda la Grange's sad and inspiring story of her friendship with the most famous South African in the history of the world.

DS: I spend my leisure time...

HE: … with my three black grandchildren who are convinced that democracy will make their dreams come true. I will make sure that it will; that is why I am a member of the ANC. President Obama told the world Yes, we can; I will remind the ANC No you can't.

 DS: One sentence describing a lesson that you have learnt from being a diplomat

HE: Getting on with those you cannot stand; pretending to agree with those you should never believe, and cooking bobotie for those who you swore never to invite to dinner. But then hypocrisy is the vaseline of political intercourse.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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April 2017 Edition

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