Dear Comrade Premier Panyaza Lesufi…

Congratulations on having the courage to embark on your long unofficial journey to the presidency. People say you’re a populist as if that’s a bad thing. Who doesn’t want to be popular? I have been unpopular for most of my life and, yes, I have paid a terrible price. But also a good price. You know what I’m saying.

The first rule of politics is to never say what you mean or mean what you say. You, my friend, have mastered the art. Most people pick their battles. Not you. Oh, no. You are the human equivalent of a fragmentation grenade, tossing yourself into precarious situations in the hope that support for your cause of the day will emerge, bleeding and bewildered, from the carnage.

Take alcohol, for instance. I certainly do. Four years ago, you called for an alcohol-free South Africa. “This problem of alcohol needs brave soldiers,” you said. Then, on Tuesday last week, you said, “We have taken a clear decision that we can’t continue to issue liquor licences when we don’t have the capacity of the people that are selling liquor to our children”. To be honest, I’ve heard more coherent arguments from staggeringly drunk people in late-night bars.

As a red-blooded South African, you no doubt appreciate that children will struggle to reach their full potential if they fail to share a bottle or two with their parents at dinner time. As the slogan goes, the family that drinks together stays together. Look at the French. Their babies are weaned on Cabernet Sauvignon and go on to become cyclists, fascists and professional protestors.

You said that liquor is a gateway to drugs. Quite right. When I have friends around and I’m snout-down in the first six-pack of the morning, I almost always say, “Guys, you know what would go well with this? A gram of phencyclidine. Or maybe ketamine.”

Unsurprisingly, those grinches over at the Gauteng Liquor Traders’ Association were less than pleased with your threats. For a start, they deny that alcohol is a gateway drug to better, tax-free drugs. They could be right. Beer doesn’t go well with everything. Weed is probably best since it makes you hungry so you eat chips which make you thirsty so you drink more beer and then you have another joint and need more chips and more beer and so it goes until your heart stops or you get stabbed outside the bottle store.

The association said they were “astonished” by your claim that the industry had “applauded” your decision to stop issuing liquor licences. I’m inclined to believe them. These people only applaud when someone buys a round.

If I were a member of the Liquor Traders’ Association, the only thing that might astonish me is the fact that South Africa is, like, seventh in the world in terms of alcohol consumption. This is pathetic and hopefully not true. We damn sure can drink more than the Zimbabweans.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted. This is what happens when you drink and write. So, on the same day that you announced a clampdown on liquor licences, you were photographed standing outside a shop sporting the words, “Welcome to Heineken SA Sedibeng Brewery”, and shaking the hand of a white man wearing a suit visibly more expensive than yours.

Your caption read, “Today, we received a full briefing to launch taverns of the future in our communities. The tavern of the future will blow your mind. Thanks to the new Heineken Vision. Exciting times indeed.”

Critics say you should make up your mind. In the morning you’re saying alcohol is the devil’s work and in the afternoon you’re promoting Heineken. Forget the critics. You’re a politician, not a preacher. You don’t need to pick a side and stick with it. Go with whatever works for you.

Like the rest of us, you must have realised by now that the ANC has no vision. So if Heineken has one, count me in.

I would love to help you and this corporate megalodon design the tavern of the future. Even though Heineken isn’t my favourite beer, with the right incentives it can easily be. Here’s my vision:

There’s a tavern on every corner of every street in every city, town and village. No, wait. That’s already happening. How about this? The towns themselves become giant taverns. You drive right in and park next to your table which can be converted into a bed at the push of a button. The waitresses, holograms of Margot Robbie, are quantum mixologists. Sensing what you need, they procure glittering libations that make you levitate with ecstasy. Lifelike Taylor Swift androids sing to you while you flick through the settings on your personal time-travel portal. Your family is there. Humanoid robots pretending to be teachers pretend to teach your children. In that respect, nothing will have changed. Ethereal creatures wearing nothing but body paint in the colours of the Dutch and South African flags perform real magic. Nothing ever runs out or closes and no money changes hands.

I don’t know what beer Jan van Riebeeck and Pieter Pandemonium from the Nether Nether Land drank, but they did understand how to leverage trade and develop a slave-based economy. Heineken has learnt from the best. In the bright future you envisage, comrade Panyaza, we are all Khoi.

By the way, well done on telling the minister of police that his days are numbered. Not to his face, obviously. That’s not your style. You’re a stealth bomber, you are. But you shouldn’t have apologised. Bheki Cele is harmless. When the president wakes up and fires his useless ass, hire him as a security guard for Tavern City, formerly known as Pretoria.

I’m sure you’ll soon enough find a way to get real weapons into the hands of your “crime prevention wardens”. Wooden guns are all very well, but bludgeoning is hard work and your guys aren’t in such good shape. If you’re planning to fight your way into the presidency, you’re going to need a proper militia.

In the meantime, since the ANC has blown my future, I’m so looking forward to having Heineken blow my mind.

3 thoughts on “Dear Comrade Premier Panyaza Lesufi…

  1. geoff says:

    Morning Ben. So, we are “Seventh in the world in terms of alcohol consumption. I’m not sure whether to be glad or sad about that. Is that 7th from the bottom out of about 200 countries or seventh from the top? Is that measured per total megalitres consumed or per capita? Call me a pedant but you need to give some background and context (you obviously didn’t major in Stats at varsity)
    And another tip about statistics-my teacher at High School in Salisbury, Rhodesia commenting on my joy at reading that my favourite cigarette brand had achieved a 200% increase in sales, burst my 14 year-olds bubble when he told me that meant they sold one packet last month and three this month!
    Seduza manje kisimus

  2. Cecile says:

    Mr Lesufi must watch his back. Comrade Mdlalula (Mr weet van fokol) won’t appreciate his limelight been stolen. Young

  3. Lynn Mortimer says:

    I’m sure that amongst your priceless comments, lurks truth and reality.
    Watching from afar (thankfully), it is depressing and alarming to read what is happening in the Rainbow Nation.
    No wonder Kolisi kept blabbing on about how hard it is for his people!
    Please stay safe. Who will tell it like it is , were something untoward to happen to your good self?
    You and Zapiro sure like living on the edge!

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