Airplanes, Wedding Trains and the CAR

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments – John 14:15.”

And so it is with Trovato 07:45. Or, if I oversleep, 10:30. President Jacob Zuma is also big on this parable or homily or whatever the hell you call it.

When I saw our fearless leader come lumbering out of the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential residence in Pretoria, with CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye two steps behind him, I felt a pang in my chest. At first I thought it was love. My president. So powerful he didn’t even bother changing out of his pyjamas for the meeting. But it wasn’t love at all. It was the after-burn from a shot of Mexican heart medication.

Zuma cleared his throat. All the birds and beasts fell silent. The sun glinted off his burnished dome, momentarily blinding a 747 pilot high up in the sky.

Tiangaye looked contrite, as well he should. Zuma squared his massive shoulders and said, “We have accepted on behalf of South Africa …” Here it comes, I thought. The apology. About time, too.

“ … their condolences.” What? The rebels gun down half our combat-ready army and all they offer are condolences? Not an oil field or even a million cows? Hell, I’d sooner we got flowers and a “Hope your army gets better soon” card than mealy-mouthed condolences.

Tiangaye said it was regrettable that there had been “a personalised relationship” between South Africa and the skunk-faced former president Francois Bozizé.

I don’t know about you, but I almost certainly wasn’t having a relationship with Bozizé. I’m not ruling it out, mind you. The Mexican heart muti has made me do a lot of things I’m not proud of. Things I don’t always remember the next day.

I think we can accept, though, that what Tiangaye meant was that Zuma and Bozizé had a personalised relationship. But because Zuma was standing right there, yawning and scratching his crotch, he had to say it was not the president’s fault.

Just over 600kms away, in a luxury home-based intensive care unit incorporating a well-stocked drinks cabinet and indoor putting green, Schabir Shaik nodded and smiled.

“Jacob, my man,” he said softly to himself. “You’ve pulled it off again. Nurse! Bring me the 18-year-old!” The nurse did as she was told. “No, you idiot. Not her. The Johnnie Walker!”

Anyway, now that the CAR is no longer Zuma’s dirty little secret, I would like to wish the happy couple all the best for the future. Maybe he should give the Seleka rebels free access to the national key point of their choice.

The Guptas have dibs on the Waterkloof Air Force Base so it will have to be something else. Use of the Simonstown naval base as a private marina, perhaps? Or how about converting Genadendal into a B&B for anyone else who might have a personalised relationship with the president? It could be run by Mac Maharaj and his wife. I expect they will have to learn Mandarin.

So how about them striking teachers, eh? Pity Maggie ain’t around no more. She would have sent in the horses by now. After the teachers had eaten their fill, more horses would be sent in to trample the indolent swine underfoot and give them a damn good lesson in civil etiquette.

Karl Marx once said: “The working class can kiss my arse”. I used to agree with him, but now I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy having my arse kissed just as much as any other insufferable middle management moron, but I am starting to feel twinges of sympathy for them.

I’m not talking about teachers or bus drivers. To be a member of the working class, you actually have to work and not spend your time dancing in the street, chanting incomprehensible gibberish and frightening the children.

Earlier this week I took my Land Rover for a drive through the sugar cane fields near Ballito. I wasn’t going anywhere in particular. Just driving. I kept passing clumps of workers – the real kind – trudging along the dirt road into the sunset. Some waved, some ignored me. All of them choked on my dust. There was a group of seven or eight up ahead. As I drew level, one turned and looked at me. It was a woman. Like the men, also in overalls and gumboots. She smiled.

“Hmm,” I thought. “She likes me.” I quickly pulled over. No, of course I didn’t think that. What kind of lunatic white man would drive alone through the cane fields of KZN at dusk hoping to catch the eye of a beautiful maiden and take her back to his palace and make her his possession? I’m not King bloody Mswati, you know. Not that he would ever take the Maybach on a dirt road.

I pulled over to give them a lift. Eight quickly became fifteen. People who were walking in the opposite direction got in. In this province of a thousand hills, nobody turns down a free ride. Where you’re headed is irrelevant.

Sure, I knew there was a chance I’d get my throat slit. It’s a risk you take when you pick up strangers. But I was prepared to die for the sins of the white man. Perhaps someone would start a religion in my name. Followers would wear tiny silver Land Rovers around their necks and baptise their children in beer.

But it was not to be. They had no interest in martyring me. All they wanted was a lift after a day of backbreaking work in the filthy Durban heat. I drove for five kilometres before a dude with menacing tribal scars tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to stop. It wasn’t a town or even a village. Just a jumble of wood and iron shacks in a clearing in the bush.

They worked for a landscaping company with clients like the Tongaat-Hulett Group, Moreland, Zimbali and the provincial government. The company’s website says the owner’s “upbringing in Northern Zululand has allowed him to speak the Zulu language and
understand their cultures which have benefited all staff and contracts”.

I’m sure the workforce deeply appreciates being told, in their own language, that because the company has a turnover of only R30-million a year, it would be unreasonable to expect transport to shackland or the Ballito taxi rank at the end of each day. After all, you’re looking at a monthly petrol bill that could easily run into the hundreds.

Speaking of bad ideas, Microsoft’s evil genius Bill Gates wants to put a video camera in every classroom in America to monitor the performance of teachers.

Given the fact that around 90 000 South African schoolgirls fall pregnant each year, I imagine the footage could be tastefully edited and sold to TopTV for screening after the kiddies have gone to bed. It could be called A Broad Banged Up. People with DStv will understand the reference. Next week, I’ll try to slip in a joke for those have access to SABC channels only. Poor bastards.

And finally. Ex-police commissioner Bheki Cele had a couple of bottles of expensive whisky stolen out of his car a few days ago. Because that’s where everyone keeps their best hooch.

Good for him, I say. I like the image of a former police chief thundering through the city streets late at night, hurling abuse at the citizenry and sucking savagely on a thousand rand bottle of whisky.

Give him his job back at once.

8 thoughts on “Airplanes, Wedding Trains and the CAR

  1. Margie Marnewick

    What has happened to the column in the Sunday Times? Can’t find it – my favourite thing to read all week! Margie

    • Don’t tell porkies, Margie. If it were your favourite thing to read, you would have noticed that my column appeared for the last time three or four weeks ago. Perhaps you have been in prison, in which case you are forgiven. Sad truth is, the Sunday Times deemed me superfluous to needs.

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