An Open Letter to President Jacob Zuma

Dear #1,

Do you mind if I call you Number One? It has the ring of victory to it. Oh sure, it also has ablutionary connotations, but you won’t find anyone in my circle of friends saying things like, “I need to make a Zuma.” That’s DA talk, that is. I will have no truck with open toilet humour.

I wanted to congratulate you on your efforts to avoid any of the Gupta muck sticking to you. They don’t call you the Teflon President for nothing! Personally, I don’t buy the Teflon thing. Unless, of course, you really are made of Teflon, in which case I am with you all the way.

I have learnt many of my survival skills from watching animals. Well, watching Animal Planet, anyway. You wouldn’t catch me anywhere near those filthy beasts. When there is danger, for instance, the hyena will run away. When I see the police, I also run away. But if a burglar, perhaps a smallish woman, breaks into my home and is unarmed, I will confront her, much like the elephant confronts the honey badger when he tries to steal the elephant’s honey.

You seem to have mainly been watching programmes on ostriches. Good for you. They are magnificent birds, especially when marinated in monkey gland sauce. But they are also very good at ignoring a problem until it disappears.

When an ostrich senses danger and cannot run away, perhaps because its legs are being cooked at a nearby shisa nyama, it flops to the ground and remains still. This clearly worked for you. I hope there were no nasty spills as civil servants stampeded for the exits at 3.30pm every day. I expect staff were warned to step over you.

An ostrich is born to run. You were also born to run – for president. Did you know that ostriches eat whatever is available? Plants, lizards, rocks. It’s all food to them. It wouldn’t surprise me if your nephew Khulubuse had a bit of ostrich in him.

Getting back to the problem that doesn’t exist. What are you doing about that Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson? She distinctly said Number One was aware of the Gupterian takeover of Waterkloof Air Force Base. I hope you have offered her a suitable gift to keep her mouth shut. You know what women are like. You frequently have to buy their silence. I cannot begin to imagine how much you have to fork out to get some peace and quiet at Nkandla.

Don’t get her the same gift that was given to chief of state protocol, Bruce Koloane. She won’t feel special and will tell everyone that you were with Lee Harvey Oswald the day JFK was shot.


Kissing Cousins And Strip Mines

I was going to write about politics this week but the moment I typed the word “Mangaung”, I projectile vomited. I tried again and again and each time I lost more and more of my lunch.

The sound I made was not the traditional “raaaaalph” but the more gut-wrenching “zuuuuuma.”

By the time I had progressed to the dreaded dry heaves, the far wall looked like a Jackson Pollock painting, had he chosen to work in beer instead of acrylics.

The doctor said I was suffering from politicalitis caused by an overexposure to lies and corruption. He suggested I avoid newspapers for a month and prescribed six tequilas three times a day.

And so I find myself back in Mtunzini, this time with my rabidly atheistic loinfruit, Clive, and his perpetually underdressed cousin Roxanne who has gone from being a slutty adolescent to a wanton herpetologist.
When I learnt of her new-found passion, I pointed out that Clive would be an ideal subject because the horny little toad was in all likelihood riddled with herpes. She enlightened me as to what it was that herpetologists did and I said in that case Clive would be an ideal subject because of his scaly skin, hooded eyes and forked tongue. He denied having a forked tongue.

So why do you speak with one, then?” I said. He had no answer to that, largely because by the time I came up with this punchy rejoinder he had already left the house.

Typical spineless reptilian-amphibian conflict avoidance behaviour,” I said to the cat. The cat nodded without opening its eyes.

I had a feeling Clive and Roxanne were rutting like wildebeest whenever my back was turned, but intervening would simply enable the brat to give me his stock response: “But dad, there is no God!”

I can’t work out if he is a genuine atheist or merely using it to get away with heinous acts of depravity. Anyway, there seems little point in stopping first cousins from getting jiggy on the grounds of morality when our leaders are sloshing around knee-deep in whores and blood money.

I decided to take them to Mtunzini in the hope that the sounds of the forest would drown out the stampeding of their pheroponies. I remain the sole responsible adult after Brenda went off three months ago to find herself (she should try looking up her ass).

Mtunzini is a quirky little town full of reclusive hippies, itinerant zebras, unmarried mothers and snaggle-toothed hillbillies. It lurks damply just south of Richards Bay and it’s about to get a whole lot quirkier thanks to a mining company called Exxaro KZN Sands/Tronox.

The forests and wetlands of neighbouring Fairbreeze contain noo-noos who care very little for the economy of this great country. They also contain titanium. Frogs are less important than titanium so the trees must be cut down and the dunes torn up. Anyone who has ever tried to build a jet fighter out of frogs will know this is the way it should be.

Approaching Mtunzini, Roxanne sighed deeply and remarked on the primordial power of the dune forests. Apparently this is how herpetologists talk. I told her to take a good look because the next time she comes this way, she’ll be looking at giant toxic slimes dams and a landscape bleaker than the dark side of the moon.

Tears welled up in her big blue eyes. Clive consoled her by putting his hand up her skirt. That’s my boy.

Being a sensitive man, I didn’t mention that the opening of a new mine meant the Chinese wouldn’t be far behind with takeaways along the N2 selling fish-eagle-cakes, sweet-and-sour blue duiker and bushpig-on-a-stick.

The Umlalazi Resort isn’t really a resort. A proper resort has strip bingo and pool tables and a man who sells drugs to the needy. Umlalazi has a riverboat moored in the parking lot that looks like it detonated a floating mine. That’s about it as far as entertainment goes. There are also millions of fiddler crabs, which aren’t as much fun as they sound, and the allegedly endangered Pickersgill’s reed frog, which is no fun at all.

I suppose one could have a swim in the river, assuming one doesn’t mind being bitten in half by a hippo and then having a crocodile use one’s spine as a toothpick. Failing that, there’s always a romantic evening around the fire inhaling mosquito repellent and biting pepper ticks off each other’s faces.

Or you could try identifying the birds, one of which makes the delightful sound of an infant being dangled in boiling water.

Leaking hormones, Clive and Roxanne wandered off to photograph “the wildlife”, leaving me alone on the veranda of the log cabin.

I stared into the forest wondering what was the point of trees. All they seem to do is stand there swaying in the wind and randomly waving their limbs. A bit like car guards, really. I should probably tip them when I leave.

A tiny antelope stepped daintily out of the forest and into a clearing. It twitched its nose and wagged its silly little tail and looked at me with big doe eyes. It is moments such as these that inspire poets to dash off a few stanzas before dipping into the morphine. All it did was make me feel hungry so I got into the car and dashed off to the Spar for a chicken pie.

Later, I combined the two events and wrote an Ode to the Antelope Pie. After using pope, dope, lie and cry, I ran out of rhyming couplets and went to bed.

The next morning I went looking for palmnut vultures, billed as one of the rarest birds in South Africa. The problem with rare things is that you never actually see them.

After staring up at a bunch of huge raffia palms for at least five minutes, I saw nothing other than tiny pinpricks of light followed by darkness and a sudden falling to the ground.

How do I know the palmnut vulture even exists? I can also go around telling people about the incredibly rare tree-climbing spider-dog that spins webs and barks only when there is nobody around to hear it.

When we left I cast an eye over the inventory to make sure the kids hadn’t stolen anything. One of the items was “whiskey”. I peeled Clive off his cousin and threatened to put his fingers in the toaster unless he confessed. He said God didn’t exist and demanded to be set free. When that didn’t work, he claimed not to have seen any whiskey in the cabin and said he thought it was meant to be “whisk”. I found it highly unlikely that an organisation as efficient as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife would make such a horrific error.

I released him and he scuttled off in tears. Later I saw Roxanne helping to stifle his sobs by putting her tongue in his mouth. What a selfless girl she’s turned out to be.

I haven’t told Clive, but I subsequently found these items on the inventory. Egg bitter. Braai tooke. Five peace calving set.

And we wonder why they can’t keep their rhinos alive.

Trovato In National Honours Outrage

This is the fourth consecutive year in which I have neither killed nor raped anyone. I have refrained from hijacking cars and taking hostages. I have paid my taxes and some of my traffic fines. I continue to withdraw money from ATMs instead of blowing them up and I hardly ever shoplift.

And yet I have been overlooked for national honours once again.

I don’t know how much longer I can maintain this aberrant lifestyle without some kind of acknowledgement from the government.

Any idiot can see I am more deserving than many of the recipients on this year’s list. I should at the very least have been given the Order of Mendi for Bravery.

Even though I failed to rescue anyone from drowning, which appears to be the criteria for this award, it wasn’t through a lack of trying.

I spent almost every day on the beach looking for people to save. Apart from two attention-seeking tail-gunners in Speedos pretending to drown, everyone swam about with no trouble at all. Damn their selfish eyes.

I even offered a farm boy R27 to allow me to carry him from the surf and give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There may have been a misunderstanding because he resisted fiercely when I moved in to deliver the kiss of life. An angry mob chased me off the beach as if I were little more than a common pervert.

I should also have been in line for the Order of Ikhamanga. The government’s information website says: “The Ikhamanga (Strelitzia) plant symbolises the unique beauty of achievements by men and women who carry colourful South African aloft in the fields of creativity, arts, culture, music, journalism and sport.”

I would carry anyone aloft, regardless of their colour, if it meant getting the recognition I deserve. Well, maybe not anyone. It would be a struggle to lift, say, Khulubuse Zuma without the help of a block-and-tackle.

But struggle is what these honours are all about. Johnny Clegg struggles to lift his foot above his head these days and Cheeky Watson struggles to keep his son, Luke, from vomiting on the Springbok jersey. That’s why they were both on the list.

Being dead doesn’t seem to hurt your chances of receiving the Order of the Baobab. Ten of the 16 recipients are no longer on this mortal plane, including Sebebubijwasekgogobontharile Moroka, who almost certainly introduced himself as James when dealing with white people.

I want my award now, dammit, not after I’ve been put in a box. On the other hand, at least my death would mean something to my family.

While we patriots pay perfunctory obeisance to our most recently anointed heroes and heroines, perhaps we could also look at replacing some of our national symbols.

The springbok, for instance, is no longer suitable as our national animal. For a start, it is the dumbest animal in the bushveld. They practically beg to be shot between the eyes, cut into strips and eaten as biltong or even worn by the president at his next nuptials.

Now that we are 18, we should have an animal more closely representing our ethos as a nation. The hyena would be a good choice. They organise themselves into territorial clans of related individuals and so do we – except we call them government departments. The centre of clan activity is the den (Union Buildings).

Like many of our business leaders, spotted hyenas are opportunistic scavengers. No meat too rotten, no tender too tainted. We also both enjoy a bit of a laugh now and then, usually at someone else’s expense.

They have large ears and thick, short necks, as do many of our farmers. And, much like us, the female outweighs and dominates the male. Needless to say, the male plays no part in raising its offspring. You don’t get more South African than that.

Moving on to our national bird.

The blue crane simply has to go. What manner of bird stands a metre in its socks? That’s just silly. It has longer legs than some of my ex-girlfriends. Unlike my exes, it doesn’t have much to say. We need to dump this manically depressed introvert before it bores itself into extinction and embarrasses the lot of us.

I nominate the African crake. They make an unlovely rasping sound, have bloodshot eyes and their plumage is the colour of a soiled nappy. However, once the farms have collapsed, the president will be able to say: “Let them eat crake.”

Alternatively, it could be the white-bellied bustard. This is not to be confused with the yellow-bellied white bastard, among whom I count myself.

We need to replace the galjoen as our national fish because he is Afrikaans and, quite frankly, we have bent over backwards to accommodate this dysfunctional demographic.

What’s more, it is illegal to buy or sell galjoen. We might as well have heroin as our national fish.

I say out with the cheerless galjoen and in with the electric eel. It could represent our foreign policy – hard to pin down and delivers a nasty shock when you finally grasp it.

The national tree is the yellowwood. This is 2012 – who cares if its wood is yellow, blue or brown? This is a racist tree and should be chopped down on sight.

As for the protea, the less said the better. This ugly brute gives flowers a bad name. It should be struck from our list of national symbols without delay and replaced by the magnificent Cannabis sativa.

This botanical wonder sports an attractive five-bladed leaf and can grow to heights exceeding 10 000 metres. It has small, sticky buds that attract birds, bees, hippies and policemen.

Lastly, the national anthem should be converted into one minute of silence and the national flag should be white because, at some point, we are going to have to surrender.