Dear President Zuma,
I have become accustomed to congratulating you on one or other of your remarkable successes – whether it be state capture or simply the acquisition of a fresh wife – and it grieves me terribly to have to offer condolences this time around.
It is always sad when a democracy loses its president at the hands of a political lynch mob instead of at the polls. When presidents are removed in dictatorships, they at least go out in a blaze of glory. With a bang rather than a whimper, as it were. Although I dare say even courageous leaders like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi might have indulged in a spot of whimpering at the end.
I have to admit that at the time of writing this you were still pulling a Mugabe and refusing to budge. I guess I’m approaching you with the optimistic assumption that it’s just a matter of time.
If you still intend resigning – and it seems to me that Monday’s NEC meeting is a massive incentive – let me assure you that there is no shame in it. I have resigned from several jobs over the years. Sure, impeachment wasn’t my only other option. Nor was getting hounded out of the office by angry, disillusioned colleagues.
When I read last week that your pet poison dwarf Jessie Duarte had said a clear decision on your fate was urgent, I knew the cat was truly among the pigeons. The ANC’s top six do not use words like “decision” and “urgent” unless something pretty damn serious is about to happen to one of their own.
Then the quisling Baleka Mbete, who tried so hard to protect you in parliament for so long, turned on you and announced that your State of the Nation Address was being postponed. To her credit, she was kind enough to make out that this was at your request. Everyone knows it wasn’t, though. But that’s okay. When you’re cornered by a buffalo, you do whatever it takes to stay alive.
It’s a shame, really. That would have been your last opportunity to speak to the nation. To remind us, in your own unique somnambulist style, of how much the ANC has done for the country. I never tire of hearing the good stories. Every year it’s the same and every year it sounds like I’ve never heard it before. Perhaps I keep falling asleep. It’s not you, comrade. It’s a biological survival mechanism.
I was so hoping you would complete your term in office, not only because you provide a constant source of material and even income for struggling satirists and cartoonists, but also because … no, that’s it.
You have always insisted you’ve done nothing wrong and that the people love you. I made the mistake of thinking the same about a girlfriend once. It turned out that she loathed me. I completely misread the signals, as you seem to have done. To be fair, you only ever watch ANN7, read the New Age newspaper and surround yourself with people devoted to osculating your gluteus maximus. Given these quixotic conditions, how on earth were you to know how unpopular you had become?
What a pity you never really got the chance to experience what it must feel like to run the country. Right from the start you were fighting a rearguard action to stay out of court and there’s been no time for anything else. As a taxpayer, I have contributed substantially to your legal fees and I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but if you do go to jail, you can expect an invoice from me.
Listen, I was wondering about that meeting you had the other day with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. I’m in Cape Town at the moment and at some point will need to return to my home in Durban for a glass of water and a bath. I need to know that it will be safe. If you and the King are planning to secede the province and unleash the Amabutho, please let me know. I have seen the movie Shaka Zulu and, quite frankly, I have no wish to end up like Michael Caine with an assegai up my bum.
A lot of people are wondering how you managed to convince Cyril Ramaphosa – the pretender to the throne; the Capulet to your Montague – to give you a stay of execution by postponing last week’s NEC meeting. I don’t want to imagine that you both stripped off, coated yourselves in baby oil and wrestled for it. Damn. Now I am imagining it.
Not only did you get him to call the dogs off, but you also gave him a list of conditions to meet before you’d even consider stepping down. That takes audacity to entirely new levels.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed that you had about as much negotiating power as a frog dangling from a heron’s beak. Your options, on the surface, were to resign, be recalled by the party or face a vote of no confidence in parliament. Finishing your term seemed not to be among the options. And yet there you are, still behind your desk.
The NEC has turned into a nest of vipers and even in the top six you can count on the support of just the poison dwarf and Ace “Dairy Queen” Magashule. That’s not enough. You’ve already survived eight votes of no confidence in parliament. Cats and people like you get nine lives only. You wouldn’t want to risk it. Not with the likes of Vladimir Putin waiting to have a quiet word with you. And let’s not forget that your tame penguin in the NPA, Shaun Abrahams, could well drift off with the prevailing current.
I have to say, Jake old buddy, you really are something else. Africa has never seen a leader quite like you. You are neither democrat nor dictator. You are a man of the people with no mandate from the people. You literally laugh in the face of adversity. By tarnishing the reputation of the ANC, you single-handedly succeeded where the National Party failed. And that’s quite an achievement, particularly since it was done inadvertently.
Dragging a once-respected liberation movement’s name through the mud was merely collateral damage in your headlong pursuit of wealth. I don’t judge you, Jake. We’re all after money. What is perhaps more surprising is that so many of your comrades either turned a blind eye or helped you in your quest. That’s genuine loyalty, that is.
In the political milieu, you have redefined concepts like honesty, commitment and sacrifice. And, thanks to you, ubuntu now translates as, “I am rich because you are a Gupta.”
Don’t feel bad, though. You’ve had a damn fine innings. Longer than your predecessor, that’s for sure. You have travelled the world, met some interesting people from India, own a lovely property in Nkandla and have a bit of cash in your pocket. You’ve done very well, Jake. All you have to do now is stay out of prison. By the way, if you had to look up the word schadenfreude in the dictionary right now, you’d see a picture of Thabo Mbeki.
I want to see you and your old financial advisor kiss and make up. Play a round of golf together. Buy him a meal. It’s the least you can do. After all, it was because of you that Schabir spent a week or so in prison where he contracted a fatal illness which, miraculously, has improved his handicap.
So there’s only one question now, really. Is it better to jump or be pushed? Can’t help you there, old friend. Whatever you decide, it’s a long way to the bottom. Tuck and roll, Jake. Tuck and roll.
Dear Comrade President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Corrupter of the Weak, Don of Dubai, Capo dei Capi, Lord of the Beasts and the Fishes, Emperor of Nkandla.
Congratulations on still being on your feet. I mean that metaphorically, of course. I expect you’re probably lying down right now. And who could blame you? These are trying times and a man needs his rest. Besides, lying is your default position. I apologise. White monopoly capital made me say that. I will discipline myself this evening.
I imagine you were as surprised as anyone to learn that there’s a new book out in which you’re portrayed you as a cross between Al Capone and the leader of the 28s. I was outraged by the scurrilous parallels. For a start, Capone wore Brooks Brothers suits, Fedora hats and shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo. You wear Pending Law suits and shoes by Glenn Agliotti. I’ve never seen you in a hat. Is it because they don’t make them in butternut size? That’s headist, that is.
Also, the 28s would never have you because you don’t drink or take drugs and can’t be trusted. You don’t even have any tattoos. But that’s okay because you have your own gang with its own rules. You have to admit that The Cabinet is a bit of a lame name for a gang, but still. It’s the power you wield that counts. And let’s not forget you also have at least 350 loyal foot soldiers sitting in your safe house in Cape Town.
I won’t take up too much of your time. You’re doubtlessly very busy instituting defamation charges against one Jacques Pauw who wrote a scurrilous pack of lies in a fake ‘book’ titled The President’s Keepers, available at all reputable bookstores but selling fast so avoid the Christmas rush and get your copy now. What? Who said that? It’s almost as if Johann Rupert himself is dictating this to me. I shall undergo an exorcism right after disciplining myself.
I have never heard of an author called Pauw. He sounds foreign. Get your man Mahlobo to check him out. No, wait. You shifted Mahlobo out of state security and in to energy. It’s an obvious move as far as career paths go, if you think about it. Or not. Far be it for me to question your thinking when it comes to reshuffling your gang. I am nothing but a voter, the lowest on the food chain in a one-party democracy, and I am lucky to be alive.
So. Back to this alleged book. Pauw, by all accounts a fifth columnist from the fourth estate, claims that for the first four months of your presidency you were on the payroll of your friend Roy Moodley’s security company for R1-million a month, which, after tax, came to R1-million a month. So what? Everybody moonlights once in a while. Security guard wouldn’t be my first choice, but each to his own. Your day job only pays R250 000 a month. Nobody can live on that. Well, I suppose I could if I cut down on drinking during the week, but nobody with four wives and 22 children can live on that.
Pauw’s so-called book also claims that you never submitted tax returns for at least the first five years of your presidency and then put all your pawns in charge of SARS so you’d never have to cough up. If this is true, you have the wardens on Robben Island to thank. They allowed you to play chess, did they not? A harmless board game that teaches strategy. What could possibly go wrong?
Aren’t you glad you don’t live in America where prosecutors aren’t afraid to do their job? The FBI has just indicted Paul Manafort, one of Donald Trump’s former henchmen, merely because he took out a home loan and then mischievously spent some of it on buying another property. Imagine what they’d do to you?
That was a very smart move putting Shaun Abrahams in charge of the NPA. You should probably give him some sort of medal when all this is over. How about the Order of Medusozoa or, in terms that the uneducated can understand, the Order of the Jellyfish. If you prefer, there are many other spineless wonders to choose from.
By the way, your man Gigaba is doing a splendid job of keeping the wolves from your door. One thing mystifies me, though. What’s he talking about when he says we can’t afford a nuclear energy programme? Didn’t he get the memo from Moscow?
His medium-term budget, however, was a master class in deflection. By taking an unprecedented stab at the truth, your flak-catcher managed to distract attention away from you, allowing you to continue working on your retirement plans unhindered.
The ratings agencies seemed their usual gloomy selves after his speech, though. The aptly named Moody’s said the mini budget signalled “a marked credit-negative departure from earlier fiscal consolidation efforts”. What does this even mean? It’s like some kind of weird word salad. Ignore them. Oh, right. Sorry. To ignore and deny are policy mainstays that continue to serve you well.
Thing is, denials can get a bit stale over time. Taxpayers want to be kept entertained by increasingly outrageous claims of ignorance and innocence. That’s why it was such a refreshing change to have you reject instead of simply deny the slanderous filth in Pauw’s bestseller. Well, you didn’t reject all the allegations. Just the ones that dealt with your tax affairs. That’s the most important one, I suppose. It’s what brought Capone down. Then again, he didn’t have the cops, prosecutors and taxman in his pocket.
Your auditor-general appears to have caught some kind of rare honesty bug. You might want to get the exterminators in. He said this week that SOEs (ATMs to you) were “regressing” as a result of inadequate controls, monitoring and oversight. Nobody needs that kind of negativity.
But it’s not all bad news. Irregular government expenditure has increased by 55% since last year. It’s now standing at a healthy R45.6-billion. This must be some kind of record. Your home province has kept the flag flying by taking two of the top three spots in the highest single contributor category. Congratulations, then, to the KZN transport department for taking first place for wasting a breathtaking R3.9-billion. Also, big up to the health department which took bronze for squandering an equally impressive R3-billion.
I hear the ex-wife’s presidential campaign is being funded by cigarette smugglers. Good for her. The country would benefit hugely if more people started smoking. Old people are a drain on the economy. More smokers, fewer old people. Nkosazana is doing South Africa a great service. Please thank her for me.
I also heard that you told the high court you’re willing to establish an enquiry into state capture before the end of the year as long as you can dictate the terms of reference and appoint the chairman. Fair enough. What about getting Comrade Judge Chris Nicholson out of retirement? If it wasn’t for him, you’d be in your thirteenth year of a fifteen-year sentence by now. In theory, anyway. I’m sure if you had been tried back in 2009, you’d have come down with a bad case of the Shaiks and been released after a month or two.
What do you think about this Peter Hain character poking his nose where it doesn’t belong? One minute he’s fighting apartheid and the next he’s trying to bring down the ANC government. Typical bloody liberal. Can’t be trusted. He’s just jealous that you have the Guptas and he doesn’t. And now he wants to destroy a bunch of banks just because they laundered a few billion rands of our taxpayer’s money. Try to get him on the payroll before he causes even more trouble.
Anyway. Must dash. Got to renew my passport in case your ex becomes president of the ANC and then the country. You couldn’t live with her so I don’t see why I should have to.
A loota continua.
Dr Ben Trovato
Dear Honourable and Dishonourable ANC Members of Parliament,
So, a big day for you on Tuesday. You get to tell the nation that you have confidence in Jacob Zuma as our president. At the same time, you’re also allowed to express your real feelings. That’s the beauty of democracy.
So I hope you’re all feeling strong and healthy and ready to do your bit for the motherland. It would be a terrible shame if some of you – 51 should do it – fell violently ill on Monday and called in sick on the day of the vote, thereby allowing the opposition to unseat the greatest leader the world has ever seen.
Nobody in their right mind would vote against a president who is one hundred percent committed to destroying the country, presumably so that it may be rebuilt stronger than ever. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s get the destroying part done first. Our leader is under enough pressure as it is without his representatives in the legislature joining the counterrevolutionary proletariat in their irrational demands. There is a natural order to these things. Visions aren’t accomplished in a day.
Many of you have worked long and hard to help President Zuma succeed with Project Destroy. This is to your eternal credit and you will be richly rewarded, on top of the rewards you have already received. This is a project that never runs out of rewards. It’s like having timeshare in the Treasury.
This is your turn to eat. Unless, of course, you’re one of those MPs who weigh more than 150kg. In which case it’s your turn to buy a new car. Hell, buy two. Three. Spoil yourself. You’ve earned it. You have shown remarkable loyalty to a leader who works so selflessly and tirelessly to take money away from taxpayers to save them from themselves. Taxpayers drink and smoke and take drugs. They have casual sex and park on yellow lines. They gamble on the horses and in the casinos. They cannot be trusted with money. This is why our noble president must do what he does. Take their money and put in safekeeping. Not here, obviously. Large sums of money are best kept outside South Africa. Fortunately, the United Arab Emirates has made special provisions in this regard.
A vote of no confidence in the president would be a vote of no confidence in his humanitarian project. What kind self-respecting nationalist would do such a thing? American President Donald Trump has a similar plan, but he lacks our benevolent commander-in-chief’s intellect and ambition. Trump only wants to repeal Obamacare. Zuma wants to repeal the entire economy. I like a man who dreams big.
A massive 33% of voters approve of Trump’s performance in office. With the exception of one or two renegades who have clearly gone insane, every one of you slumped on an ANC bench approves of our noble president’s dream of uplifting the poor, even if it is only an impoverished family of humble Indian immigrants squatting in a shebeen in Saxonwold. Small steps.
Members of parliament who don’t have a blesser for a leader will vote against the president on Tuesday. This unpatriotic behaviour must be condemned. And when I say condemned, I mean they must be taken outside and shot. It’s the only language liberals and democrats understand.
At the time of writing this, Speaker Baleka Mbete was still trying to decide whether she should allow a secret ballot. I think voting should be open. Secrets are for governments with something to hide. Ours is a firm believer in transparency, even going so far as to loot and pillage in broad daylight right under our noses. We, the people, appreciate that kind of openness.
It’s only been 45 days since the Constitutional Court ruled that Mbete had the power to make the ballot a secret one. These things are not to be rushed. I once took a year to decide whether I should give my second marriage a third shot. The answer, of course, doesn’t lie in the decision ipso facto. It lies in the consequences.
Speaking of lies, ANC secretary-general Greedy Mantashe has made it clear that none of you is allowed to vote according to your conscience. And rightly so. Your membership fee entitles you to a T-shirt, a cap and unlimited access to the party’s free website. Also, if you know the right people, wealth beyond your wildest imaginings. It does not entitle you to a conscience. You are lawmakers and the business of making laws would be severely compromised if you had to start differentiating between right and wrong. That nonsense is the exclusive preserve of bong-puffing philosophers, kiddie fiddler priests and judges of the high court who spend more time on Tinder than on writing up judgements.
Mantashe emphasised that the ANC is not a party of free agents. It is a party of captured agents. And also travel agents, because you guys are always somewhere else. The DA is a party of bloody agents. The EFF is a party of secret agents. The Freedom Front Plus is a party of estate agents (willing buyer, willing seller or death). And so on.
By the way, have you heard about this new coalition called FutureSA? Members include – Sipho Pityana, Sydney Mufamadi, Kumi Naidoo, Terence Nombembe, Zac Yakoob and Bruce Fordyce – now apparently running against the comrades. Heavy hitters, but not as heavy as you. They get to bring Cape Town to a standstill on Tuesday, but if you vote as I expect you will, the entire country will eventually grind to a standstill. That’s what I call real power. And, as they say in Cuba, with real power comes real money.
Our angelic president has survived at least six votes of no confidence. This makes him a winner in anyone’s book. Don’t spoil his unblemished record. He will still lead us to the promised land. Maybe keep some money aside for a visa. Dubai charges R1 370 for 30 days. And, remember, no singing, dancing, drinking, swearing, gayness or public displays of affection. It’s not that kind of promised land.
If you have to go to Bali at short notice but lack access to a high-powered boat fitted with supplementary vodka tanks, supersonic stabilisers and three depraved Scandinavian contortionists, you should probably fly Singapore Airlines. My contortionists were in for repairs so I decided to fly.
OR Tambo International Airport is nothing like the man. For a start, it lacks his outward sense of calm and order. Ironic, though, to name an airport after a man whose lexicon included regular use of a word that may not, under pain of imprisonment, be uttered in an airport. For the slow-witted, I’m talking about the word bomb.
I suppose I could’ve flown South African Airways. It would have been the patriotic thing to do. Then again, not allowing an immigrant family from Uttar Pradesh to ransack our state owned enterprises and loot the treasury would also have been the patriotic thing to do. Flying SAA is about as patriotic as giving Jacob Zuma a third term.
Singapore Airlines is everything that SAA isn’t. It runs on time, gives people free drinks and, unlike the rand, hardly ever crashes. The ten hour flight to Singapore was a pleasure. The pilot wasn’t even a little bit drunk. I have experienced more turbulence in hotel rooms. And their meals make SAA look like a soup kitchen for homeless war criminals.
Singapore is one of the many airlines that don’t fly from King Shaka International Airport. Hadedas barely fly from King Shaka. Most of them depart from the tree outside my bedroom window at 5.30am. Hadedas have the worst air traffic control in the world, shouting at each other whenever they take off or land. Or even just sit there.
To get to Singapore Airlines I had to fly from Durban to Joburg. I managed to get myself an emergency exit seat by weeping openly at the check-in counter while standing on my tip-toes, which brought my height to around three metres. I need extra leg room like sharks need to keep moving.
The cabin attendant pretended to give me instructions on what to do in the event of what she coyly described as a forced landing and I pretended to listen. We both knew that in the history of aviation, nobody in my position had ever swung that lever up, kicked the door open and helped his fellow passengers onto the wing.
The attendant then told me, with a straight face, that in the event of a water landing I should swim to the front of the plane where I’d find the life vests. So there was a chance we’d come down in the Umgeni River, then. Or maybe Zoo Lake? It was like a triathlon. Fly, swim, crawl to hospital.
Waiters in an airport bar took me hostage and only released me when they heard my name being called. Weaving off to the gate severely handicapped by a belly distended with beer, I made it just in time.
“Where were you, sir. We’ve been calling you,” said a gatekeeper with the face of a rejected kidney.
“I thought that was the voice of God,” I said.
This conversation might have taken place in my head. Living alone as I do, a fierce amount of conversations take place in my head.
It wasn’t long before I was on nodding terms with the onboard medication. But there comes a time on any long-haul flight when the airline treats its passengers as one would a bunch of parrots. They’ve barely fed and watered you when the blinds come down and the lights go off. It’s the equivalent of putting a blanket over a cage.
“More gin and tonic, air slave!”
“Sir, now is sleepy time, not drinky time.”
“What? This is an outrage! Drinky time has barely begun and you expect …”
“Sir, it is 2am in Singapore. Not drinky time at all.”
“Rubbish. It’s 6pm and it’s still light outside. Look.” I went to raise the plastic shutter thing.
“Mr Parrot, do not touch the fittings or we will have you shot.”
Singapore, you will remember, is the country that destroyed Helen Zille’s career. I shudder to think what their airline is capable of doing. Quite frankly, I’m not convinced that Singapore is a country at all. I think it’s just a giant airport with travelators instead of roads, planes instead of trains and sliding glass doors instead of borders. I’ve visited smaller countries than Changi Airport, which appears to have a GDP considerably higher than most African states. Another reason I don’t think Singapore is a real country is their idea of what constitutes crime.
A teaser emblazoned on the front page of last week’s Singapore Sunday Times screamed, “The ugly side of bike sharing!” I assumed “bike sharing” was a polite euphemism for one or other less than salubrious activity. Human trafficking, perhaps. My brain salivating at the idea of receiving a dose of fresh filth, I flipped the paper open. The page two lead story was headlined, “LTA moves against badly parked bikes.” Ramming home the full horror, four photographs showed bicycles parked willy-nilly, some obstructing doorways, others partially blocking a staircase. A few have already been impounded. It was too terrible. I had to bite down hard on my knuckles so as not to cry out at the inhumanity of it all. But, despite the brutally indiscriminate parking of bicycles, Singapore will rebuild. Je suis Singapore.
To reach my connecting flight to Bali, I had to cross several topographical zones within the Singaporean People’s Republic of Changi. Across the temperate highlands of Duty Free through the megalopolis of pharmacies to the glittering cornucopia of Gucci, I soldiered bravely on. Rebel controlled roadblocks slowed my progress but, after handing over bottles of water, I was allowed to continue on my way.
I spent the flight with my knees around my ears, eating with T-Rex arms and shooting death stares at parents who think it’s somehow acceptable for their children to carry on like malfunctioning air raid sirens.
Black-gloved gunmen were waiting for me at Denpasar Airport. Were they to release me into the wilds of Bali with my bottle of rum and my bottle of gin, I would quite clearly be unable to resist the urge to violently overthrow the Indonesian government. They gave me a choice.
“Rum or gin,” said a beautiful combatant with sloe eyes and a quick draw. It was a vicious and cruel choice to have to make.
“Eat prey, love,” I muttered, handing over the gin before walking out into a thick soup of tropical humidity, Australian accents and seven billion motorbikes.
It is in the nature of my job to be a cynic and a sceptic. I take nothing at face value and always believe the worst. Give someone the benefit of the doubt? Please. That’s about as likely as seeing me in church on a Sunday.
However, I am deeply embarrassed to admit that I failed this week in my capacity as a professional doubter and detractor. When I woke to the news that three of the ANC’s top six, the party’s integrity commission, ANC veterans, Cosatu, the Communist Party, churches and civil society groups were united in their call for President Jacob Zuma to stand down, I felt a twinge of hope. I was not so far gone as to be countenancing faith, but that tiny twinge grew stronger overnight as it fed off my dreams of a better future for all. By the time the ANC National Working Committee had ended its crisis meeting, I was telling anyone who would listen that this might well be it. That Zuma had finally played his last card and the entire disgraceful edifice he’d constructed around himself would come crashing down and Wednesday would see the country’s streets and bars filled with people half mad with joy.
Then came the historic press conference that I thought would put South Africa on the road to recovery. Secretary general Gwede Mantashe, looking increasingly like a well-used stress ball, was slumped in his chair, his wounds freshly licked and still raw. As he started speaking, the swelling balloon of hope in my heart began deflating like a plastic soccer ball headed by Jesus wearing his crown of thorns.
Confirming that he and his two fellow invertebrates, deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, are in an abusive relationship with the president, Mantashe said, “We must find it adult enough to close the door, beat each other up, if you find me with a blue eye, I must develop a narrative that I bumped a pole rather than going public with disagreements.” In other words, it is always better to lie than tell the truth. I happen to agree with him on this.
He also said that the ANC “has reflected on the calls by the SACP and COSATU amongst others for President Jacob Zuma to resign from his position as the President of the Republic of South Africa.” I tried that once with one of my ex-wives when she cornered me over her alleged repeated requests that I unblock some or other inconsequential drain. Looking her square in the eye, I said, “I have reflected on your requests.” She seemed to expect more but eventually lost interest and wandered off.
So on Wednesday I coughed up my nugget of hope, now all shrivelled and manky, and went to the pub to rinse the bile from my throat. There, I met a man who claimed not to care about politics. Or even understand how our government works. He said he was just there to drink and asked me not to bother him. I put him in a half-nelson and polished off his beer while he begged for mercy.
“Get a grip,” I said. “You’re behaving worse than Ramaphosa.” He didn’t know what a Ramaphosa was, so I got him to buy me a drink and began explaining the entire sordid business from Marikana to McDonalds.
I also had to explain to this sad bag of rags that in the old days there were three branches of government – the executive, the legislative and the judicial – but today there are dozens of branches. These are known as ANC branches. I told him to imagine the executive as a shark and the ANC branches as suckerfish that cling to and feed off the parasites on the shark. Imagine, I said, that the parasites are Cosatu and the Communist Party. And maybe the ANC Youth League.
“Remoras,” he shouted, and fell off his stool. I kicked him gently in the head to bring him to his senses. “Order Perciformes, family Echeneidae. They eat the host’s shit,” he said, giggling uncontrollably before appearing to die.
Even though with his final sentence he seemed to be grasping the metaphor admirably, I cannot abide ichthyologists who can’t hold their drink. I kicked him twice for good measure and left swiftly.
So. Comrade Greedy, I beg your pardon, Gwede, admitted that the dumbest “intelligence report” ever created by someone over the age of five was not, as initially stated by Zuma, the sole reason Pravin Gordhan was fired. Saving what little remains of the president’s face, the Working Committee came up with a reason more suited for adult consumption.
“The NWC has accepted the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between the President and a member of his Cabinet (Gordhan) as sufficient explanation for the decision taken by the President.”
Look, relationships take work. Not mine, obviously. At the first sign of trouble, I’m out of there. But these are grown-ups we’re talking about. If they’d just taken the time to consider each other’s needs, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Would it have hurt either of them to occasionally send flowers or call just to say I’m thinking about you? And why the quickie divorce? What happened to relationship counselling? It’s all too sad.
So to get back to what I was saying. My flirtation with hope flared and died before it could ripen into a full-blooded emotion. It was crushed like a handful of marijuana on the last day of Afrika Burn. I have now returned to my natural state of cynicism, scepticism and ostracism.
I have, in fact, gone one step beyond. Madness, you may say, but these are the times in which we live. The only way we can beat these swine is with a baseball bat but there are too many of them and not enough bats. So we join them. I have already drafted my letter to the head of the government’s human resources department.
Dear Mr Gupta,
Forgive me for not knowing if it’s Atul, Rajesh or Ajay in charge of human resources this week. You guys have your fingers in so many pies it’s hard to know what’s happening. Maybe that’s why you all look so healthy. Too much of pies. Just kidding. I am a big pie man, myself. Mutton curry, mainly. I’m talking proper Verulam mutton, here. Not that Umlazi goat mutton.
Thing is, I am having a problem because I can’t afford to keep myself in the manner to which I ought to be accustomed. As a white man I should be well off, but something terrible must have happened and now I am only well off my face. This is why I am hoping you can give my life a skommel. Put me somewhere with a nice salary and maybe one, two perks.
Don’t put me in the cabinet. I’ve just come out of the closet. That’s a gay joke. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Also, I’m not gay so it’s not really a joke. A cabinet position is like the kiss of death. It’s like being given a poisoned chalice except you don’t have to drink the poison and you get to sell the chalice over and over again. Or something.
I want to be low key but high flying, if you know what I mean. Of course you do. You invented that thing. Smart move. I call it the Dubai Shuffle. But you’re all still South Africans, right? Good for you. It’s the 97th best citizenship in the world to have. And yet we can’t help being morons.
Take that Mcebisi Jonas fellow. You give him free dops in your en-suite shebeen, offer him the position of finance minister and still throw in a R600-million bonsella but he shakes his head and walks away, later making all kinds of affidavits and whatnot about this generous offer that was obviously never made.
This won’t happen with me, uncle. I’m not bluffing you. When you do your next reshuffle, give me maybe director general in tourism and let’s say R50-million and you won’t hear from me unless I hear from you.
Your man in the struggle,
Benjamin “Buttons” Trovato
Dear Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Owner of Property in Nkandla, Shuffler of Cabinets and Destroyer of Things, I hereby greet you.
First of all, allow me to congratulate you. It doesn’t matter on what. You can decide. The important thing is that a man of your intellect is congratulated on a regular basis.
Well done, though, on deposing the ringleaders responsible for attempting to boost our economy. The last straw came when that seditious anarchist posing as our finance minister flew off to sell South Africa to investors in Britain. Not even Pravin Gordhan has the right to sell South Africa, even though he’s a Durban ou and would have given them a good price and all.
The real purpose of his mission was obviously to buy heavy calibre calculators and recruit mercenary accountants for a rebel army. You know what these financial types are like. Beneath their dimpled, chubby exteriors lurk lean, mean killing machines. Or worse, adding machines. It’s a good thing you have moved fast on this. Without your intervention, the Union Buildings would be overrun by well-educated polyglots and we’d all be speaking algebra by Christmas.
I am among the millions of patriotic South Africans silently applauding your firing of Gordhan and other free-thinking radicals of his ilk. I say silently because most of us are either savagely hungover or too weak with disease and hunger to engage in the physical act of clapping. We need to conserve our energy so that when 2019 rolls around, we will be able to crawl to the nearest polling station and vote for the ANC. Many of us won’t have the strength to make it back home and will probably die right there in the ballot booth. This is a small price to pay for keeping in power the most glorious political party Africa and indeed the world has ever seen.
You’re a genius, boss. By turning your reshuffle into a bloodbath, nobody could accuse you of gunning specifically for the finance minister and his deputy. It’s a bit like the way Israel bombs an entire Palestinian suburb just to get one cheeky Hamas commander. Sure, your scattergun approach is a bit rough on the others, but there are casualties in any war and I’m sure they are all very grateful for even having had the opportunity to buttress their bank accounts … I mean, serve the people.
Brilliant move making Malusi Gigaba minister of finance. A man who knows his way around the Saxonwold shebeen, he might not be the brightest but he’s a snappy dresser and that’s all that really counts in this portfolio. Also, he speaks English like a proper Zulu and his “Christian” name is Knowledge. What more do you need? Best of all, his sexiness will deflect attention away from the man really running the ministry – his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi.
According to Who’s Who Southern Africa, Buthelezi is or maybe was the chairman of Robben Island Ferries and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, both of which are considered not so much efficient modes of transport as they are unreliable death traps.
He’s done some other stuff, too. Banking. That sort of thing. As long as he keeps taking calls from our government in exile in Dubai, he’ll do just fine.
Good move, too, making Faith Muthambi minister of public service. With the unemployment rate higher than a Rastafarian on Haile Selassie’s birthday, the public no longer expect to be served and the comrade will therefore not be required to fill her usual quota of damage.
And nice work retaining social development minister Butterbelly Dlamini. It’s important to have someone in cabinet who consistently sets the bar at its lowest so that everyone else shines by comparison.
Your real masterstroke, though, was appointing Fikile Mbalula as Minister of Police. I, for one, look forward to stepping over the bodies of criminals who have died laughing.
What’s this I hear that three of your top six are unhappy? Have you run out of funds to guarantee their support? If Squirrel Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and Zweli Mkhize have turned rogue, you know what to do. No, not the elephant option. It’s too soon to start shooting dissidents. That comes in your seventh term as president.
You need to kick their arses to the curb and issue a decree that the top six shall henceforth be known as the top three. If you start getting bad vibes from Baleka Mbete and that other one with the face, kick their arses to the curb, too. Then it’s just you – the top one. Round up the judges, muzzle the media and Bob’s your uncle. Is Bob your uncle? He certainly behaves as if he has a strand or two of those magnificent Zuma genes.
Speaking of Squirrel, he briefly showed signs of developing a spine but then decided to stand by his man. Good for him. The best kind of loyalty is the dumb, unquestioning kind. Tell your ex-wife to be nice to him when she is in charge.
I don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss. The only people who stand to get hurt in all of this are the poor. You’d think they would be used to it by now. They can’t afford petrol, food or medicine whether the cabinet is reshuffled or not, so no real harm is done by getting rid of the clevas and deploying the fawners and flatterers who have been waiting so anxiously for their turn at the trough … I beg your pardon, their turn to serve the nation.
I like the way you use the delusively jejune phrases “radical economic transformation”. It appeals to your semi-literate power base as well as to white people, who know that nothing ever changes for them. Whatever delightfully reckless decisions you take, they get to keep the Range Rover, the tennis lessons and the beach house. If you really want to hurt them, take away their satellite dishes and shut down Woolworths.
I have a friend who said he preferred it when you were a cavorting, giggling, marrying kind of president. A good-natured, bumbling, harmless buffoon, as it were. He said he doesn’t like what he described as “the new vicious, lying, sociopath you”. He wanted to know where the fun you had gone. I called him a shallow imperialist dog and threatened to beat him soundly. He threatened to drink all my whiskey so we called it a draw.
So, what a week it’s been. I thought it a bit rude of Ahmed Kathrada to die on the very day that you were planning to fire Gordhan for gross competence. We didn’t know at the time, of course, that you were also planning a clean sweep of all the other embarrassingly capable members of your cabinet. You must have been terribly upset having to wait a few days before beginning the bludgeoning, particularly since you have come to rely on Indians to be there when you need them.
I believe the family foundation requested that you stay away from the funeral. They probably thought you’d be so overcome with grief that you’d cause a scene with your singing and dancing. Or did you and Uncle Kathy have a fall-out? I’m sure it was over something trivial. He probably insisted on the constitution being respected or was against the idea of state capture. Ridiculous. That’s the elderly for you.
By the way, nice work getting a few of those communists out of government. PW Botha would be proud of you. If any of the leftover bolsheviks like Blade Nzimande start causing trouble, send them to the gulags. Do we have gulags? We must at least have a salt mine somewhere. When apparatchiks go bad, they need to be severely punished. It’s the only language they understand.
And whatever happens, keep pushing that collective responsibility ruse. I think it slipped your mind a bit this week. If the rand falls and the economy nosedives, it’s only right that those who survived the cull get to share the consequences. And by consequences I obviously mean financial spin-offs.
Anyway, comrade leader. It’s time for my evening weep. As the sign on the back of the taxi says, “When days are dark and friends are few …” I don’t know how it ends. The taxi rolled before I could read the rest.
If my column makes less sense than usual, you can blame MTN. I am currently without a landline, you see. It’s not that I haven’t tried to get one but everybody I talk to wants proof of address. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to prove anything without eyebrows being raised. These tedious muffin-eaters insist that a photo of me at my desk accompanied by a hand-drawn map is not the kind of proof of residence they’re looking for.
So I have spent the last few months accessing the internet via a hotspot on my phone. Don’t worry. This was also gibberish to me the first time I heard it. Data is a bit like beer. One minute you think you have loads and suddenly there’s nothing.
Until fairly recently, I wasn’t aware that you could buy data over the phone. I’d get a message in the early evening telling me that I had run out. During the day, no problem. I’d drive 10kms to the shops and buy more. But after hours? What the hell was I meant to do? I’d pace anxiously or
lie awake for hours twitching and sweating and clawing at my skin. I’d often be the first person at the mall, hanging around the entrance pale and trembling, unable to make eye contact with the car guards.
Then I discovered you could punch in a few numbers on your phone and buy data, just like that. I could lie in bed and within seconds be returned to that magical, diabolical realm where something could happen anywhere in the world and I’d instantly know about it. I don’t have a fear of missing out. I have a fear of not knowing. It’s unlikely to become a thing because Fomo is so much more of a catchy acronym than Fonk.
On Wednesday at 1.45pm I ran out of data. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was due to deliver his budget in parliament at 2pm. This is a man who is fighting a rearguard action on all fronts. Actually, his enemies don’t often come from the front. Being the craven curs they are, they’re far more likely to come slinking up from the back.
I needed to watch this speech. Anything could happen. It was probably Gordhan’s last stand. This was a major public test of loyalties and if I missed it, I’d regret it forever. Also, I’d have nothing to write about.
Then, at 1.47pm, I had a moment of great clarity. “Fuck that!” I shouted, scaring a couple of idiot doves who had wandered into my lounge looking for food. I don’t know why they think they’ll find birdseed scattered all over my floor.
“I’m not giving those MTN robber barons R260 for two miserable gigabytes so that I can watch the budget speech.” The doves blinked at me. Then the bigger one tried to climb onto the smaller one’s back. If ever there was a sign that I should go to the nearest bar and use their free wifi, this was it.
And that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. MTN is forcing me, and who knows how many other decent God-fearing citizens, into daytime drinking in bars with free wifi.
Thanks to MTN, I am a fairly familiar figure in this particular bar. They know what I want. This is more than I can say for myself. On Wednesday there was a newbie behind the bar. A puce-faced callow youth who did a rubbish job of not showing signs of panic at the sight of a red-eyed unshaven possibly homeless man setting up what appeared to be a crude office in the corner. I despised him for not instinctively knowing what to bring me. Do I have to spell it out? Beer, I snarled, lashing a pair of cheap headphones to what little remains of my head.
I was just in time for Pravin to take the podium. He got a standing ovation, even from members of his own party. This was a good start. I quickly worked out a system of drinking, taking notes, eyeballing the talent and flicking back and forth between the speech, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and Pornhub in case something happened that I needed to know about.
Look, the finance minister’s delivery is positively electrifying compared to Jacob Zuma’s, but put him in Nuremberg in 1938 and I dare say people at the back would start drifting off, even if it meant risking a bullet from one of the marshals.
I made it thirty minutes in before suffering my first neurological collapse. Fortunately it was gradual and the glass never shattered against my forehead. It seemed to affect my already frosty relations with the moron bartender, though, and he stopped asking if I wanted another after that. I wasn’t about to ask him for one, either. I have my pride.
Anyway. The entire speech was not only available online the moment Gordhan started talking, but a menagerie of civic-minded journalists were live-tweeting the entire affair. I’d hear him say something and seconds later 15 reporters would repeat it with varying degrees of accuracy. There was no point in me being there. I downloaded the speech, bought nine cases of beer and went back to my shack for some serious political analysis.
When I regained consciousness the speech was long over. That’s the nice thing about Cape Town in summer. You can take spontaneous naps and when you wake up it’s still light at 7.30pm and you don’t feel you’ve wasted the entire day.
I saw clips of the end of the speech. It seemed to go down well. Another standing ovation. Apart from a handful of ministers who pointedly drew the nation’s attention to their undying commitment to the Gupta family by being the only people who didn’t stand up and applaud. To be fair, our top-heavy social services minister Bathabile Dlamini was possibly unable to get to her feet by that stage, although she did show signs of life when Gordhan announced an increase in alcohol tax.
I don’t know what people are complaining about. If another 12c for a can of beer is going to devastate your family, perhaps you shouldn’t be drinking.
Gordhan told us that 10% of the population owns 90% of the wealth. Why give us this information and then withhold their names and addresses? How are we meant to send them begging letters or even petrol bomb their homes? Don’t taunt us, Gordhan.
The speech is littered with references to millions, billions and even a few trillions being allocated to this, that and the other thing. Lest we forget, R46-billion was stolen or squandered by civil servants in the last fiscal year. That’s enough to fill every swimming pool in the country with single malt whiskey. At the next budget speech, I expect to see thousands of white collar criminals paraded outside parliament in leg irons so that we may hurl abuse and other things at their loathsome heads. If there’s one thing this country needs, it’s catharsis.
Meanwhile, there’s good news for the country’s 17 million spongers – I beg your pardon, social welfare beneficiaries. Child support has rocketed to R380, which is more than enough if your child doesn’t eat and prefers walking around naked. Pensioners will be getting a whopping R1 600 a month so no more clogging up the aisles listlessly checking prices on every item. You’re getting in the way of the really poor – the shoplifters. You’re rich now. Load up your trolleys and get out. Also, drive faster.
My best bit was when Gordhan announced a 45% tax rate for people earning more than R1.5m a year and then, to a deathly quiet house, urged people to clap. The sound of the country’s top wage earners looking for their passports was louder than the applause.
But it wasn’t the only reverse-Machiavellian backflip with half-twist that he deployed, either. Breaking into a poorly rendered indigenous language followed by the English translation, he managed to look at Jacob Zuma without actually looking at him and said, “If lions work as a team they will bring down even a buffalo.”
Deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa wasn’t sure how to react. On the one hand, he is really fond of buffaloes. On the other, he really wants to be president. Tough call. He settled for his inscrutable comrade capitalist smile.
Dear ANC Women’s League,
I apologise for addressing you as a league and not as an individual. Women are so much more than mere leagues these days. My non-sexist sensibilities are telling me – well, shrieking at me, really – that it would be highly inappropriate to continue referring to you as some sort of collective rather than a warm flesh and hot-blooded woman with big … I beg your pardon. That’s the medication talking.
My point is that I cannot find a name by which to address you. My limited capacity for research unearthed Lilian Ngoyi, although she appears to be more of a fisheries patrol vessel than a leader of sorts, so I shall call you Mary after one of my heroes. I’m not talking about the Mary who had a little lamb, although that was certainly a biological feat of note, but rather Queen Mary I of England. She got the nickname Bloody Mary after waging a brutal campaign against prostitutes. It’s my favourite morning-after drink. They might have been Protestants.
Anyway. Enough of that. I am writing to congratulate you for so resolutely standing by your man, Jacob Zuma. I have known women, biblically and otherwise, who do not seem to understand this concept at all. When the legendary women’s rights activist Tammy Wynette released her seminal protest anthem, Stand By Your Man, in 1968 in support of real men like Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski, we applauded her. We sang along and danced and fought like lions, then went home to our wives and god help them if dinner wasn’t ready. Just kidding. Not really.
I see you have been very busy issuing statements. Well done, Mary. I like a woman who can make a statement. In the old days, women were only good for making fashion statements. Sometimes they made fashion faux pas, but we forgave them. Or not. I have a friend who said your statements are a faux pas. Ignore him. He is one of those men who think women should automatically defend truth and justice. This should be rejected for the sexist filth it is. Women are nothing more than men without willies and they are entitled to act accordingly without being judged as traitors to their gender. Or, for that matter, their country.
A long queue is developing for the moral high ground and, much like you, I cannot abide queues. Especially when they come stacked with shiny eyed opportunists pretending they’re not desperate to suck on the hind tit of … whoops. Sorry about that. I was talking fiscal rather than physical. Let’s just move on.
You say you are critical of the Public Protector but respect her office? I know what you mean. I have worked for unimaginable arseholes over the years, but I have always been humbled by their offices. The counterfeit oil paintings, the crystal dolphins, the coke chopping boards made of Burmese teak. And while I was quite prepared to cut their throats during the tea break, you showed admirable restraint by demanding “a more objective and less populist person who will campaign against government and its people but defend principles of the structures”. Would those be ANC structures? Viva objectivity.
Quite frankly, the structures seem a bit wobbly right now, Mary. What the hell is wrong with the Gauteng branch that they want Mr Big to resign on the spurious grounds that he gives the appearance of being a semi-literate, corrupt scumbag dragging South Africa to the brink of disaster? Are they on drugs? I heard the Nigerians were bringing in some kind of truth serum. If that’s true, then Paul Mashatile seems to have made an early start.
Can you believe that the Public Protector said you should rather focus on fighting for gender equality and inclusive development? What the hell does that even mean? She also said “women should be fighting to make sure that South Africa was advancing everyone, because when the state fails, it’s women who pick up the burden”. This is a pack of lies and she ought to be jailed at once. I have had two wives and several girlfriends and the only thing any of them ever picked up was a knife or a bottle of gin. Sometimes both.
To be honest, Thuli Madonsela doesn’t bother me as much as she does you. Sure, she talks a little slowly for my liking, but she has the eyelashes of a camel and that’s all that really matters in these days of miracles and wonder.
In your statement on Wednesday you said you would “lead at the front to protect the ANC”. I like it. Everyone knows that Germany only lost the war because they sent men to the front. And let us not even speak of the Russians. You, Mary, have a weapon that men don’t have. I can’t imagine how and where you would use it to protect the ANC, but I’m sure you will find a way.
“For how long should we keep quiet?” you asked. I didn’t know the answer so I asked my so-called friend Ted. He said, “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned. Only then will we realise that one cannot eat money.”
I deployed a stranglehold I learnt in the army and accused him of perpetuating a quite possibly fictitious Red Indian saying. He accused me of using outdated racist terminology and kneed me in the nuts. I was incapable of speech for an hour or two, something you wouldn’t have experienced in your life.
You also took the whip to ABSA, Anton Rupert, Trevor Manuel and his squeeze Maria Ramos, Thabo Mbeki, the Rothschilds, Barclays Bank, the Oppenheimers, the World Bank and the Easter Rabbit. Maybe not so much the rabbit.
Hang on. You’re not Mary at all. You’re someone called Meokgo Matuba. I can’t say I have ever heard of you. This is not my fault, even though I am a white man. You have been very quiet since getting the position. Well done. I like women who keep a low profile. The world doesn’t need more Angela Merkels or Margaret Thatchers, that’s for sure.
Bits of your statement are right up there with Martin Luther whathisname’s speech about a dream he once had. “We have forgiven our leader, Comrade President Jacob Zuma. We will not be shaken by songs of disrepute, clatter of confusion, misinformed quotes by the mainstream media, and its originators, false religious prophets and veterans who have been fed to their stomachs by our former oppressors. Our people are most welcome and liberated to derive their opinion, but we urge all not to be hasty, but rather search within the deepest of secrets to unravel the truth.”
Are these your own words or did you hire Thamsanqa Jantjie to translate from the original? It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you continue defending men at all costs. By men I obviously mean one man in particular. The mother of all patriarchs is a man who stands head and shoulders above other men, thanks to all the lawyers and cadres who moved in to break his fall when the Guptas ran away.
Listen, please don’t get involved in the uranium business. It’s very unladylike. If you really have a thing for mining, go for diamonds. They’re a girl’s best friend. Well, Zuma is a girl’s best friend. Then diamonds. And maybe a contract to build nuclear power stations.
So, anyway. All this fuss just because the Constitutional Court found that the president violated his mandate. So what? Boys will be boys. You can violate my mandate any day, baby.
Greetings, Mosholozi, in the name of our patron saint Machiavelli and all those who follow the holy gospels of perfidy and artifice.
Well done on surviving yet another attack by the running dogs of … I don’t know what. Let’s just call them running dogs. They bark a lot, chase their own tails and eventually roll over and lie there panting, trying to look cute and pathetic, hoping someone will come along and vote for them.
The opposition treats parliament as if it’s some sort of clubhouse for over-achievers. For people with a conscience. People who care. Well, it’s not. It’s the headquarters of one of the most powerful gangs in the country.
How dare these shouty arrivistes come to your headquarters and demand you get impeached? When I was small I read a book called James and the Giant Impeachment. It gave me nightmares from which I have never recovered. Nobody deserves to be treated like that.
Cape Town has for years proudly hosted the 26s, 27s, 28s, the Americans, the Mongrels, the Hard Livings and the Sexy Boys, but yours is the only gang with its headquarters in a fancy building right in the middle of the city.
Sure, at something like 243 members, yours is one of the smaller gangs in the Cape Town precinct. But what you lack in numbers you compensate for in influence. The 28s might trade in crystal meth and crack whores, but your members, oh boy, your members get to make laws! That’s pretty wild stuff, my man. I apologise. That was disrespectful. You are nobody’s man. Well, that’s not strictly true. You are Atul Gupta’s man.
You should know, though, that any man of my man is my man, too. Whoops. That sounds a bit gay. I have never forgotten the time some years back when you said, “When I was growing up, unqingili (homosexuals) could not stand in front of me.” A lot of people can’t stand in front of me, too, but that’s mainly because they are journalists who struggle to get to their feet by 11am and are back on their knees twelve hours later.
What I’m saying is that I am not gay. However, if you have changed your position, so to speak, and your gang now embraces gayness, then I am with you. Not physically, of course. I lack the stamina to compete with your sturdily built wives. But if you need me to pay special attention to one of your top people, I shall grin and bare it for the cause of the national democratic revolution. And when I say top people, I obviously mean the top six. I am not a racist but I think I might be a bit classist.
Given a choice, I would rather not have to perform Catholic ministrations upon Gwede Mantashe or Squirrel Ramaphosa. They are hefty men and, despite my advanced age, I have managed to retain my snake-like hips and would prefer them not to be crushed.
Jessie Duarte frightens me, not least because she reminds me of a Lebanese biker who almost snapped my spine in a street fight 20 years ago.
And Baleka Mbete, your fighting general, is out of the question because she doesn’t recognise anyone these days and I fear that in mid-coitus she might mistake me for Steve Hofmeyr and sink her fangs into my throat.
That leaves Zweli Mkhize. He’s a bit of a dark horse, which I might rather fancy if it weren’t for his … I beg your pardon, Brother Leader. This was not what I wanted to write about. Things got away from me. You, of all people, know how easily this can happen. Oddly enough, the Guptas also got away. Late last night, I believe.
Do you have a name for your gang? Yes, I know the official name is the African National Congress. But it lacks the panache of, for instance, the Los Zetas or the Crisps. Wait, not the Crisps. That’s the posse who run the Simba operation. The Crips. And their rivals, the Bloods. Awesome names, awesome people.
Acronyms, like ANC, are not that popular in the field of organised crime. Unless, of course, you’re the IMF, a guileful gang specialising in high-octane extortion. How about something like the Aryan Brotherhood but for black people? I don’t know what’s the antonym for Aryan and, quite frankly, hazarding a guess is more than my job’s worth.
Shouting in parliament on Tuesday, Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF gang, called your gang Bloody Voting Cattle. It has a pastoral yet deadly ring to it. Cows and voting have always scared me and, quite frankly, as a vegetarian anarchist I want no part of either. That could be my gang name. Ben ‘Veggie-Boy’ Trovato.
“My biggest nephew has been named in the Panama Papers? Hehehe. Gwede, unleash Veggie-Boy.” Obviously I would need some sort of eco-friendly superhero outfit, possibly made from hemp with a high THC count so that I could really fly when push came to shove.
Even though everyone recognises you as the capo di tutti capi, the control you exerted over your members on Tuesday by doing nothing more than nodding off was breathtaking. Not one of them voted in favour of that treacherous business instigated by the gangbangers on the other side of the room. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty. Well, actually you can. And you have.
The Democratic Alliance is an even worse gang name than the African National Congress because nobody has ever been afraid of an alliance, apart from maybe a miscreant Francophobe sentenced to a thousand hours of French lessons at the Alliance Francaise.
As a patriot who hopes for great things for his country, but mainly for himself, I am very pleased that you refused to do what the enemy described as ‘the right thing’. Capitulation is for weaklings and quislings and maybe even ducklings.
Speaking of which, I see that Trevor Manuel – I’m not sure if you remember him – has asked you not to bother coming into work on Monday. Or any other day. He’s from the Cape Flats and knows his way around an Okapi knife, so you might want to be careful. Also, he’s the deputy chairman of Rothschild in South Africa, one of the richest gangs around. Watch his hands. He leads with his right and takes with his left. Go for his balls, if you must. He didn’t have any when he worked for you but it seems they might have grown back.
Comrade President, there is something that has been worrying me. Nothing to do with Nkandla – I have also used other people’s money to improve my quality of life and Comrade Jesus has always sent some of his angels to keep me out of prison, as he has done with you – but I read a report this week that said a rat carrying bubonic plague was found in Tembisa.
I don’t want to be alarmist, but my favourite book, the Bible, is full of plagues. I know it doesn’t sound like much of a fun read, and you’d probably be happier with something by Robin Sharma or some other monk who sold his Ferrari and bought a small country. Not that you’re a monk. Heaven forfend that rumour gets around town. You still have many more wives to collect.
Right now, rats are everywhere. The state broadcaster is infested with them. Even the Hawks, who actually eat rats, have been overrun. Some even made it all the way from Uttar Pradesh to 7 Saxonwold Drive, although they seem to have abandoned this particular sinking ship.
Funny things, plagues. They start with rats. Next thing you know, you’re waist-deep in locusts, covered in flies and choking on frogs. This is fine if you’re French but it’s not so pleasant for those of us accustomed to a certain standard of living.
The point is, have you done anything recently that might have offended God or any other of the multitude of supernatural deities? Think carefully. No? Nothing at all? Okay, then. It must be a coincidence.
Anyway, good luck for future brawls. Like you, I would also prefer disputes to be settled in the old ways – with pangas and knobkieries – but I guess we’re stuck with the courts. For now.
Viva the one-party democracy!
I hear you want to increase the price of electricity by seventeen percent. Is that all? Why the restraint? I’m sure you are familiar with the expression, “Go big or go home.” Don’t hold back, my friend. You should be asking for eighty percent. In this country, greed is rewarded.
The counter-revolutionary press says that even a seventeen percent increase would be a “major blow” to the country. If there is one thing this country needs right now, it is a major blow. When President Zuma recently played musical chairs with the finance ministry, causing world markets to bludgeon the rand into submission, we thought that was a major blow. It wasn’t. It was nothing more than a bitch slap. It didn’t come close to bringing us to our senses.
The Illuminati-controlled media are, of course, once again exaggerating wildly. All you’re trying to do is make a bit of money, for God’s sake. We’re all capitalists, here. Everyone’s battling to squeeze a buck out of something or someone. In your case, you’re trying to squeeze R23-billion out of us. More power to you, I say, even if it does mean less to us. There’s a joke in there somewhere. I might already have made it. Hard to tell any more.
Let me see if I understand this correctly. You have suffered a massive shortfall in revenue largely as a result of us using less electricity, which we only did because you asked us to. So we are to be punished for being conscientious, patriotic citizens. We are idiots for listening to you in the first place. We deserve to be punished.
There’s a term being used by the anti-Eskomites. They say you are trying to “claw back” money you have already spent. I like it. Claw back. It evokes images of vampires and werewolves ripping and tearing at something too scared and helpless to run for cover.
Seventeen percent. That’s what you’re asking for. It’s also what I got for maths in matric. Coincidence? I hope so. I’m good with numbers – just don’t ask me to do calculations. At least we have that in common. I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m good with counting. Oh, yes. I will whip the president’s arse in a counting competition. But that’s not enough to get me elected. Not that I wish to. I just want electricity. I don’t even mind if you give me the cheap stuff. Most people I know find their lights way too bright and would be quite happy to pay half the price for a diluted version of the good shit.
So you have applied to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to give you the increase. Isn’t that a bit like asking your crack dealer cousin to slip you a rock while the wife isn’t looking? You’re related. It’s no good pretending otherwise. You don’t always get on, sure, especially when the neo-liberal wing of the fascist media start snooping around, but you’re basically blood. You’re sucking on the same vein, right?
Thanks to democracy, Nersa has to play a charade called “public hearings” before deciding on whether or not you should be allowed to jack up your prices. In the days before prevarication and dissembling became skills to be listed on one’s CV, public hearings would involve the actual public. Then again, they did sometimes end in public executions. Perhaps that’s why Nersa is holding their hearings in convention centres, far from the great unwashed. Nobody needs public opinion when it’s standing on a chair brandishing a blunt machete and shouting in a deep Transkei dialect.
A man who attended the Cape Town hearings, who looks like he knows a thing or two about agriculture, said farmers wouldn’t be able to absorb the increase. I find that hard to believe. Have you seen the size of farmers? They got that way by absorbing all sorts of things.
He also said food security would be in jeopardy. What? Since when did food get its own security? This is outrageous. Bandits can wander in off the street willy-nilly and help themselves to our wives and children, but there are armed guards on the butternuts?
Equally outrageous is the DA’s storming of your offices at Megatwatt Park this week, demanding that your executives repay the R63-million they’ve received in bonuses since load-shedding began. It’s obvious the bonuses are not a reward for competence and hard work, but are meant as compensation for the shame of working at Eskom. It’s like danger pay, except it’s their reputations at risk.
So-called economists against the increase claim that consumers are already reeling from high food and fuel prices, the drought and a currency that should be in calipers by now. This is nonsense. They are reeling from too much beer and weed and need to be disciplined.
Apparently you have overspent by several billion rand because you completely overestimated the demand for electricity. Look, I know that Benoni used car salesman Amps van der Volt only invented electricity in 1994, but how do you overestimate demand? Are you saying you generated a whole bunch of electricity only to find nobody needed it? And they didn’t need it because you had spent years telling them not to use it? This is the kind of conversation Alice had with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.
I’m also going to be applying for an increase this year. I haven’t had one in three years. In my line of work, there are no public hearings. There is just me whining and begging and an editor who says no. At least you can flip the switch in protest. All I can do is stop writing and go to the beach every day. Hmm.