President Cyril Ramaphosa is off this week on his first state visits since taking office - to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - with a stopover in Nigeria, travelling in a chartered South African Airways Boeing big enough for two suburban ANC branches. It costs millions, but for now it's probably the best of the bad choices - and he tagged along some hacks as well. Earlier this month, our correspondent flew back with the President from Mauritania after the African Union summit.
Even presidents suffer flight delays, especially when other presidents are involved. Summits, especially the disorganised ones, could be bad for one's ego. That said, presidentially chartered flights will never take off without their First Passenger.
(You have to wonder if presidents are ever cursed with recurring nightmares about missed flights, like us mere mortals, but maybe their nightmares are bigger.)
They could, however, conceivably leave a lowly sky-hitching journalist behind after agreeing the day before that she could tag along on the direct, nine-hour flight, instead of doing a 30-hour route via Europe and back to Africa,...