INKATHA Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini was an hour late for his long-anticipated moment of glory — the consideration by Parliament’s trade and industry committee of his private member’s bill to amend the National Credit Act. It was a historic occasion as it was the first time an MP was — in terms of new processes — accorded the right to introduce a private bill before a parliamentary committee.

Department of Trade and Industry officials had travelled from Pretoria for the meeting, which had to go ahead without any motivation for the draft bill from its proposer.

The lack of prior excuses and explanations had his colleagues in a froth. The apologies were profuse when Oriani-Ambrosini did eventually arrive but he was too bashful to give the reason for his absence from one of "the most important days of my life" except to say that it was "inexcusable" negligence on his part.

"Something went seriously wrong and I could not help it," a mortified Oriani-Ambrosini said, adding that in bygone ages he would have either fallen on his sword or resigned.

As a self-imposed sanction he offered to pay for lunch at the prestigious Mount Nelson Hotel for his fellow committee members and departmental officials. Committee chairwoman Joan Fubbs was gracious enough to pass off his late arrival as one of those "human failings" which befall us all, though she did wonder how Oriani-Ambrosini managed to arrive at his wedding on time!

The facts behind the matter are probably less intriguing than the imaginative possibilities their nondisclosure fosters.

Now you see it...

ZIMBABWEAN Finance Minister Tendai Biti is reportedly furious that the always "mischievous media" repeated his saying that after paying public servants’ salaries this week, the government’s bank account had just $217 in it.

"The point I was making was that the Zimbabwean government doesn’t have the funds to finance the election, to finance the referendum," he told the BBC. Which is fair enough. And then, suddenly, it wasn’t fair at all because, he continued, "the following day we had $30m in our account!" Oh dear, and he was doing so well.

But it’s good news for those who want that election and/or referendum. The Insider, however, doesn’t expect a date to be set soon, despite Zimbabwe’s newly discovered wealth.

Zille wants photo shoot-out

DEMOCRATIC Alliance leader Helen Zille finds the "vendetta" waged against her by The New Age newspaper a "totally outrageous abuse of a newspaper". She said the paper has persisted in using "derogatory" photos of her on its front page. However, she did then add that it is "very hard to take a nice photo. I have to work on it..."

Wise words

"My photographs don’t do me justice — they just look like me."

Phyllis Diller, US comedienne (1917—2012)

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