Friday, July 29, 2011

Sugar Daddy

[This piece, first published in September 2008, looks at corruption during the previous election campaign]

Sugar Daddy

‘Come in and sit down,’ said Velvet Mango sternly, as Humpty Dumpty rolled through the door and came to rest in a vast armchair. Velvet remained at his desk with a severe expression on his ancient wrinkled face. ‘I’m thoroughly fed-up with you! I spent all last week coaching you on the Art of Politics, and then you go off to the Kateka Initiation Ceremony and make a complete hash of everything! You’ll never win an election like that!’

‘I’ve completely changed my political style,’ he laughed. ‘I went there as Humpty Dumpty, but I’ve come back as Sugar Daddy! Doesn’t that sound so much more attractive? So sweet and delicious! All the girls love a Sugar Daddy!’

‘Its not funny,’ growled Velvet Mango. ‘If you’re going to be a president, you’ve got to know how to behave, and what to wear. You even seem to have ignored everything I told you about choosing the right hat. On state occasions you should wear your Head of State hat, and behave accordingly. Others will be wearing their uniforms, robes, crowns and feathers, and make empty noble speeches about patriotism and national unity. By appearing as a dignified Head of State you can collect votes without even saying a word!’

‘I prefer a more informal style,’ chuckled Sugar Daddy, as he took a sweet out of his pocket.

‘You did the opposite of what you were told!’ shouted Velvet. ‘You stepped out of your official Head of State Jet wearing a shabby Political Party Hat and a loud chitenge shirt, and giving the party sign with both hands. You offended all the dignitaries who had lined up in their official robes to greet you.’

‘I like to appear as a man of the people,’ laughed Sugar Daddy.

‘You seem to be oblivious,’ sneered Velvet Mango, ‘to the rule that you’re not supposed to use official government transport for blatant electioneering.’

‘You’re just jealous that I’ve got so many hats to wear, whereas you’ve got nothing to cover your bald head!’ laughed Sugar Daddy, as his huge belly heaved with mirth. ‘But don’t worry, I soon took off my Political Party Hat, put on a Head of Government Hat, and began distributing sugar to the starving.’

‘Wrong again,’ groaned Velvet, putting his head in his hands. ‘Distributing relief food is an administrative job, not political. Before you left I made it very clear that you should put on your Government Hat to explain government policies, but not get involved in distributing gifts.’

‘Well you were wrong, because everybody loved me and called me their Sugar Daddy! The young girls all came to kiss me, and promised to vote for me. Even the photographer from The Boast came specially to take my picture!’

‘Of course he did!’ snarled Velvet Mango. ‘Bribing electors is specifically prohibited in the Electoral Code, and he caught you in the act! If we didn’t have the Electoral Commission in our pocket, you could easily be debarred!’

‘You’re just jealous of my popularity, you withered old has-been!’ cackled Sugar Daddy. ‘Anyway, you’ll be pleased to hear that I took off my Government Hat when I went to the Girls Initiation Ceremony.’

‘Ah ha!’ said Velvet, ‘I hope you put on your Father of the Nation Hat, and advised the young people on their marital responsibilities.’

‘I considered that,’ laughed Sugar Daddy. ‘But my uncle offered me a Tribal Hat, beautifully made out of dead hyena. Wearing this hat signifies that a man is looking for another wife, and luckily enough I still had enough sugar left to offer a very attractive lobola. So, having improved my political standing by marrying the Paramount Chief’s youngest daughter, I instructed all my tribesmen to vote for me, and to chase any other candidates who had the insolence to step into my tribal territory.’

Just then the office was filled with a sensuous ring-tone taken from the Overture to the Karma Sutra Erotica. ‘Hello Sweetie,’ said Sugar Daddy, as he picked up his cell phone. ‘… Even me, Sweetie, I’m missing you … I’ll be home soon, Sweetie … Daddy’s bringing you a large lollipop … Bye bye Sweetie.’

Sugar Daddy looked round at Velvet, who had his head on his desk, and was moaning quietly. ‘Wake up, you crafty old lizard. I’m going to get elected on a manifesto of supplying the nation with sugar. Remember those good old days under the Unending National Interference Party, when there were only state shops, and they sold nothing but sugar! Anybody with a party card could eat as much as they liked! I shall re-establish the National Sugar Marketing Board, with jobs for everybody. Anybody who opposes me will be locked up! Happy days are here again!’

‘The way you’re going,’ Velvet sighed, ‘you’ll never win this election.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Sugar Daddy. ‘Don’t you think so? Then what more can we do?’

‘The usual,’ groaned Velvet. ‘I’ll have to rig it!’

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Silly Ass

[This piece was first published on 26th July 2001, at a time when the MMD was supposedly looking for a presidential candidate to replace the cunning little dribbler]

The Silly Ass

Last night Sara and I were watching the TV news, when suddenly the screen was filled with the greasy creased ingratiating face of Mr Velvet Mango, Chief Liar of the Movement for Marketing Donkeys.

‘Turn him off,’ I pleaded. ‘He gives me the creeps.’

‘It’s hard to believe,’ laughed Sara, ‘that this repellent creature is trying to attract votes. I’m fascinated.’

‘It is my honour and privilege, as party spokesman,’ began Velvet Mango, ‘to report the result of our deliberations on the next Presidential Candidate. I’m sure the nation will fully appreciate the dilemma faced by our National Execution Committee, in that some of our best leaders have been executed, whilst others have fled the party, or even fled the country.’

‘All that remains,’ cackled Sara, ‘are the snakes, hyenas and donkeys.’

‘We need to rid the party,’ said Mango with a crafty leer, ‘of these clever leaders, who have misused their intelligence to manipulate the constitution, deceive the people and arrogate more power unto themselves. We are therefore of the considered opinion that the voters are now calling for a truly stupid leader, who is not suspected of having the brains to organise large scale theft and corruption.’

‘Yes!’ laughed Sara. ‘Bring on the donkey!’

‘It therefore gives me great pride and pleasure to present our new Presidential Candidate…’

So saying, he reached to his left, and pulled out an old grey donkey. ‘I present to the nation Mr Eunuch Kapimpinya, a donkey with neither brains nor testicles. Completely harmless in all respects. A loveable leader at last!’

‘Hee-haw! Hee-haw!’ responded the donkey.

‘God in his generosity and wisdom has given this Christian Nation a donkey to take us to the Promised Land, just as he gave Jesus a donkey to travel to Jerusalem.’

‘Didn’t that end in the crucifixion?’ I asked.

‘But are donkeys truly indigenous?’ wondered Sara. ‘We don’t want another foreigner on the throne.’

‘Some people may ask,’ said Mango, as he leered into the camera, his saliva dripping down the screen, ‘whether a donkey is eligible to stand as a Presidential Candidate. It is my pleasure to allay any fears on this count. The party’s legal advisor has assured us that, so long as both parents were born in Zambia, there is no bar to a donkey becoming President.’

‘I can foresee one problem,’ Sara said. ‘I could get arrested for insulting the President if I called him a donkey. And suppose I called him a silly ass?’

‘It can’t be wrong to call him a donkey if he actually is a donkey,’ I said. ‘But according to the law you have to show respect to the Head of State. So it would be insulting to call him a silly ass, as if he were just an ordinary silly ass like other silly asses. You would have to refer to him as His Excellency the President Dr Almighty Silly Ass PhD. This is the form of politeness which is much appreciated by silly asses.’

As we were talking, the greasy Mango had lifted the donkey’s foot onto the table. ‘Look at this hoof!’ he cried in triumph. ‘Even if he had brains, how could he steal? Nobody can say he has long fingers! He doesn’t have any fingers at all!’

‘But if the billions were loaded into a cart,’ suggested Sara, ‘he could easily pull them all the way from the Bank of Zambia to State House.’

‘Listen to the empty echo,’ said Mango in triumph, as he rapped the donkey’s skull with his knuckles. ‘Absolutely nothing between the ears.’

‘Maybe he’s like most men,’ said Sara, ‘with his brains in his testicles.’

‘It’s a good thing he can’t hear what you’re saying,’ I laughed.

Whereupon Mango turned the donkey round, and displayed its rear end to the camera. ‘Most important of all, no testicles! No problem of this one producing too many spoilt brats to terrorise the nation!

‘And no more wasting government funds on pomp and splendour. No need for a Mercedes, he’ll be able to trot to all official functions. No need for State House banquets, he eats only grass. He’ll feed off the State House lawns, and deposit his dung in the flowerbeds. He won’t even need to occupy State House!’

‘Of course not!’ laughed Sara, ‘because little Kafupi will be staying on!’

‘Last of all,’ cried Mango, turning again towards the donkey, ‘I shall ask the donkey a few questions, so you can see how really stupid he is.

‘What’s the different between 49% and 51%?’ asked Mango

‘Hee-haw’ replied the donkey

‘What’s the difference between a doctor and a nurse?’

Hee-her,’ laughed the donkey.

‘What’s the difference between a loser and a winner?’

‘A stuffed ballot!’ retorted the donkey.

‘He shouldn’t have said that!’ I exclaimed, ‘he’s given the game away!’

‘But it does show,’ laughed Sara, ‘that he really is a silly ass!’

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Road to Manda Hill

[Back in April 2000, Kalaki wrote this advice on how to win an election]

Road to Manda Hill

It was three o’clock in the afternoon, but nothing of much interest had come down the wire from Reuters, and we had drawn a blank on the Internet. ‘If Sir Fred comes in and finds we haven’t got a story,’ I said to Sam, ‘he’s going to get a bit ratty.’

‘Let me show you the new Manda Hill,’ said Sam. ‘There’s always something going on there. If not, we could easily provoke something.’

So off we footed, up the Great East. As we came to the traffic lights, there loomed into view a massive monstrosity, without shape or form, let alone architecture.

‘My God,’ I said. ‘What’s that? Another Namboard Depot? An aircraft hangar? Or has Simon Mwewa built himself another house?

‘Don’t be silly,’ laughed Sam. ‘This is Manda Hill!’

‘Who’s being silly?’ I snapped. ‘There’s no hill here at all. I thought we were heading for parliament!’

‘If you want to go to parliament,’ explained Sam, ‘you have to start here. This is where you can buy all the things that will get you up the hill, and into parliament.’

As we got closer, I could see that the Manda Monstrosity was divided into different sections: Political Game, Hoprite, Truthworth, Moore Flattery, Supreme Tarnishers, and so on.

Political Game is the most popular nowadays,’ said Sam. ‘Let’s go in there.’

Each section had its own sign hanging from the ugly tin roof. Selection Game, Nomination Game, Membership Game, Dark Corner Game, Expulsion Game, and so on.

‘Let’s see what they’ve got in Electoral Game,’ I said.

People were flocking around the shelves, where big notices advertised the goods on sale. Under a notice saying Organise Party Defections were the following items for sale:

Forged membership card, 1 pin

Genuine card of deceased, 2 pins

Genuine card of living, 3 pins

Buy a hundred and get ten free!

All UNIP cards half price!

‘Now you can see,’ said Sam, ‘how the free market has liberated politics. Previously this was all done secretly up the Hill, and the rest of us didn’t know what was going on. Now it has all come down the hill, where anybody with money can join in.’

‘It has certainly come a long way down hill,’ I admitted.

We walked on until we came to a notice saying Buy Your Votes Here, and showing another pricelist:

Voter’s Cards 50pins

Green Reggies 100pins

10% Discount if you buy a hundred!

‘Some of these prices seem a bit steep,’ I said. ‘I know for a fact that a reggie from the back door of the Green Registration office costs only 30 pins.

‘But the advantage here,’ Sam smirked, ‘is that you can buy in bulk.’

The next section was entitled ‘Ideal Qualifications for Candidates’, where Form V certificates were going for 50 pins, diplomas for 100 pins and degree certificates for 500pins. ‘Some of these prices are quite reasonable, I admitted. ‘I mean, why spend a fortune buying back door examination papers, when instead you can get Form V certificate for only 50 pins!’

‘The liberalization of the economy has made things much easier,’ laughed Sam. ‘With enough money you can even become Bantu Botatwe. The really difficult and expensive thing is to become indigenous.’ As he was speaking he pointed towards the central display of certificates in gold frames, and a notice which said:

Genuine indigenous birth certificates while you wait! Essential for all aspiring presidential candidates. Only 5,000 pins for a genuine indigenous parent. Buy one parent and get the other one free! You too can be president!

‘Excellent investment,’ said Sam. ‘For only 5,000 pins, you could soon be in a position to empty the entire national treasury. That’s a very high rate of return on your capital investment.’

We walked down further to the Salaula Nikuv Computers, where a big sign read

Get your own Nikuv computer to ensure your own party members are on the Register. Just press the ‘Upload’ button’ to give yourself an inbuilt majority. Just press the ‘Delete’ Button to entirely remove all opposition voters. Election success guaranteed!

‘All these things used to be secret,’ explained Sam. ‘But now we have transparency, so that everybody can see what’s going on. Let’s go and have a look at Hoprite. Its much more fun.’

‘There aren’t any commodities!,’ I exclaimed, as we walked in. ‘Just people sitting on the shelves!’

‘They are the commodities!’ laughed Sam. ‘Hoprite is where the party hoppers hop from one party to the next.’

On the shelf sat an ancient forlorn Munkombwe with a placard round his neck saying Up and Down provincial chairman seeks job as Minister for Muddle in the Movement for Marketing Democracy. The saliva dripped down his poor old chin as his left eye looked to the left, and his right eye to the right, each trying to spot a prospective buyer.

‘He can’t get a job like that,’ laughed Sam. ‘For one thing, he’s well past his shelf life. And for another, the exchange rate is well known.’ He pointed to Bank of Zambia notice on the wall, clearly setting out the current party-hopping exchange rates:

50 party members = 1 councilor

10 councilors = 1 provincial chair

10 provincial chairs = 1 MP

10 MPs = 1 Minister

‘Is that entirely correct?’ I wondered. ‘I thought Independent MPs were supposed to be much more valuable than ordinary party MPs.’

‘Its difficult to say,’ replied Sam. ‘There hasn’t been enough trade to establish a firm market price.’

‘But I heard that Chastity Mwansa was promised a job as Minister of Helicopters.’

‘Promised,’ he laughed. ‘Promises are very cheap. Up to now she hasn’t been given anything. The silly girl thought she could collect her own lobola! But it’s only her father who can be made Minister of Helicopters!’

‘Before we go,’ I said, ‘let’s have a look at Bookworld.’

‘Actually, it’s called Cookworld, because they sell only cookbooks.’

‘Can a cookbook help you win an election?’

‘Of course,’ Sam laughed. ‘Winning an election is just like stuffing a chicken and cooking it. If you stuff a ballot box you can cook an entire election.’

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Settlement

[Published in April 2002, this piece looks at the divorce between Kafupi and Deera]

The Settlement

‘What have we got this morning?’ asked the judge, as he sat himself on the bench.

‘Divorce settlement for Mrs Deera Kafupi, My Lord,’ said the clerk of the court, as a woman in a brilliant green satin suit squeezed her ample bulk into the witness box. The morning sun glinted upon her many rows of pearls, and heavy gold earrings.

‘My dear Deera,’ said the judge, leaning forward and peering over his spectacles, ‘What are you asking of this court?’

‘My Lord,’ said Deera, ‘my husband has divorced me, and left me destitute and starving.’

‘I shan’t asked you to swear on the bible,’ laughed judge. ‘How much are you asking for?’

‘For my share of the ploperty, My Lord.’

‘Tell me about the marriage,’ said the judge. ‘Did you help your husband in his work?’

‘Oh yes, My Lord. When I met my littul Kafupi, he was just conductor on a little minibus. That was more than thirty years ago. He had no qualifications at all. He only got the job because he was so short. He could walk up and down the minibus without have to bend.’

‘So how did you help him make his money?’ asked the judge.

‘I was the one who knew alithmetic. So I showed him how to count the money. And how to siphon off a little margin for himself.’

‘So things began to go well? Suggested the judge.

‘Oh yes,’ said Deera. ‘Soon we recluited all the other conductors into the same scheme, and set up the Movement for Money Diversion.’

‘So all the conductors were on the take?’

‘They all got their little share.’

‘But your husband got more?’

‘They all paid ten percent into his holding company, the Milking Money Deposit. He had the cheque book, but I was the blains behind it.’

‘So how much would you say your husband is worth?’

‘He’s velly litch!’

‘Just from milking the bus company?’

‘That was only the beginning, My Lord. After milking the bus company, we soon moved into bigger organisations. Then we set up the Movement for Marginal Diversion, for the diversion of government funds.’

‘So you infiltrated the government?’

‘Even the state,’ My Lord. ‘We even set up the Movement for Manipulating Democracy, which successfully diverted the Constitution.’

‘But were you still assisting your husband, or was it now him doing all these things?’

‘Oh no, My Lord. Without me it couldn’t work. Sometimes it happened that a disgluntled gloup of people would become despelate and dangerous after Kafupi had diverted their wages, or pensions, or medicines. But then I would always alive by helicopter with a few bags of mealie meal for their empty bellies, some salaula for their naked bodies, and some salt for their wounds. We called it the Hopeless Foundation, a charity for all the people whose lives we had made hopeless. Then all the hopeless people would jump up and down and cheer, saying The hour has come, Deera was sent by Kafupi, and Kafupi was sent by God! Kafupi Mpusushi!

‘What a marvellous marriage partnership!’ declared the judge. ‘And a most equitable gender division of labour! For the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away! So what went wrong?’

‘Sex,’ said Deera.

‘Sex!’ the judge salivated. ‘I’ve been waiting for this bit! Was he perverted? Insatiable? Bisexual? Was there any sadism? Masochism? Fetishism? Any whips? Black leather? Anything like that? Ho ho, you must tell me everything, that's what I'm here for!’

‘Don’t over excite yourself,’ snapped Deera. ‘It was just the normal sort of mid-life crisis. First his eyes began to wander. Then his hands began to wander. Then his other parts began to wander. He was going with other women.’

‘How many? Two at a time? Three at a time?’ demanded the judge, leaning forward, rubbing his hands, and bouncing up and down on his seat. ‘Where did they do it? Did you catch them at it? Were they naked? Did you take any photos? Have you got any exhibits to put before the court?' The judge was now perspiring with excitement.

‘Calm down, My Lord! For him, it was just a natural extension.’

‘Natural extension? How big was his natural extension?’

‘Another natural extension of MMD, into the Multiple Matrimonial Diversions. He used the helicopter to snatch other men’s wives. Then he kicked me out of the house.’

‘A thief and a philanderer!’ gasped the judge. How much is he worth?’

‘About five billion dollars, My Lord.’

‘Good God! And how much did you manage to carry away when you were chased?’

‘Only a couple of million dollars, My Lord. I’m destitute.'

‘Well, Deera, from what you have told me, I can see that you did your best to stick by your husband and help him in all his nefarious endeavours. Therefore, under the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1981, you are entitled to half of the marriage property. I therefore award you two and a half billion dollars.

'Ooh, thank you my Lord!'

‘In addition, I sentence you to twenty years hard labour for receiving stolen property.’