Thursday, November 24, 2011

Commission of Insanity

[Written in May 2003, this story anticipates the Long Lunacy of the Constitutional Commission of Inquiry]

Commission of Insanity

The Press Conference was so long and boring that I was almost falling asleep. Then suddenly I heard something more interesting…

‘… so now I have fuh-fuh-finally decided to announce my position on these recommendations from the Constoootional Commission of Inquiry.’

‘What’s poor old Muwelewelewele talking about?’ I whispered to Sam, ‘He’s only just appointed them!’

‘Kalaki, my dear,’ said Sam, putting his arm round my shoulder, ‘you’ve been sitting here longer than you realise. The Commission was appointed in 2003 and they presented their report in 2008. And even that was two years ago!’

‘What! What are you saying? Where have I been? Have I been sitting at this same Press Conference for seven years? Is that what you want me to write in my column tomorrow? People will think I’ve gone mad!’

‘My poor dear Kalaki,’ said Sam, ‘You went mad years ago, but people still read your stories every week. But I should explain to you, this is not a press conference at State House, this is the lawn at Chainama Psychiatric Hospital. I’ve come here this afternoon to visit you. You’ve been here for seven years!’

‘My God!’ I hissed, looking around, as people started to stare at me. ‘What happened?’

‘You began to write stories that were more and more insane! Every week a bit more bonkers!’

‘But my stories are always true!’

‘That was the problem. It’s not good when insane stories turn out to be true! The whole country was going insane, and people were beginning to blame you. And you couldn’t stand the responsibility for what was happening, it drove you insane!’

‘It wasn’t like that at all,’ I protested. ‘It wasn’t my fault if the whole country was going insane. In fact I was the only sane person left.’

‘When you begin to believe that,’ said Sam solemnly, ‘it means you’ve gone mad.’

Maybe he’s right, I thought to myself. Even Sam could be right sometimes. Even Stutter Muwelewelewele had been heard to mutter a few wise words amongst all his nonsense. Wise constructions may arise sometimes by mere grammatical accident. And as I was thinking of my predicament, Stutter Muwelewelewele continued to stutter on…

‘The Cuh-Cuh-Commissioners were asked to consider whether all the decisions of government should be decided according to the unrestrained whim of a President with limitless powers. Or whether, instead, we shouldee ah, shouldee ah, change the Constootion, so that Presidential decisions are be guided by procedures for enshooring rational thought and balancing the interests of all stek-stekholders.’

‘Ha ha,’ I whispered to Sam, ‘you really had me worried for a moment. But that old fellow is definitely old Stutter Muwelewelewele. I really believed that I had been locked up at Chainama Hospital!’

‘Stutter is also a patient here,’ said Sam calmly. ‘He also got caught in the loop between rationality and insanity.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Just wait,’ said Sam. ‘Just give him plenty of time. He’ll explain it himself.’

‘Andee now ah, andee now ah,’ continued Stutter, ‘I have this list of 354 suggestions from the Commissioners on a new Constootion, which would entirely remove the power of Presidential Whim. Instead they seek to limit the power of the President by making all Presidential decisions subject to the rationality of due process.

‘Whereas I agree with the Commissioners in principle,’ declared Stutter, ‘there seems to be a legal difficulty which the Cuh-Cuh-Commissioners haven’t cuh-cuh-considered, and which is insurmountable or even insurmountainous.’

‘Here it comes,’ chuckled Sam.

‘As President, according to the Constootion, I am the one who has to take the decision to introduce the new Constootion. Now ah, now ah, now ah, how can I suddenly introduce rationality into a Presidential decision when the present Constootion requires me to take decisions on the basis of Presidential Whim. There is no Constootional precedent for a President using a rational argument to support a decision. And until we change the present Constootion I am sworn to defend the present Constootion.

‘If I use a rational argument to justify rationality, I shall have exceeded my powers under the present Constootion, since my powers are based on mere whim and not rationality. And if I am not at present given the Constootional power to exercise rationality, then how can I justify introducing rationality without a rational supporting argument? On the other hand, how can rationality be introduced on a mere whim? Unfortunately we have here an insurmountable cuh-cuh-contradiction.’

Muwelwelewele looked up at a tree with a puzzled expression. ‘Why do they want to make all these new rules? Did I not appoint all of them from pure whim, completely ignoring all rational advice from all around? Where would they be today if I had used rational justification for my actions? Why can’t people just respect my whimsical decisions? Why doesn’t anybody trust me anymore?’ He put his head in his hands and sobbed. Then two men in white coats took him by the arms, lifted him up, and led him away.

‘I suppose,’ I said to Sam, ‘That people lost trust in him after he went insane?’

‘No,’ laughed Sam. ‘He went insane because people wouldn’t trust him.’

‘So who’s in charge now?’


‘Nobody?’ I gasped. ‘Then if Presidential Whim has been locked up, we are now free to change the Constitution!’

Just then a peacock screeched, and I woke up with a start. ‘You dozed off,’ said Sam, ‘You’ve missed everything! You’ll have no story for tomorrow’s edition!’

‘Don’t worry,’ I laughed. ‘I wrote the story before I left!’

‘You’re insane,’ he said.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


[Written in February 2002, when the new government was just beginning to investigate the previous gang of plunderers]


‘Its quarter past seven, we’re missing the news!’ exclaimed Sara, as she pressed the remote control, and the face of Dozy Dee filled the screen.’

‘She looks beautiful again,’ I said.

‘Just a fresh coat of paint,’ laughed Sara. ‘Its all part of the New Deal.’

‘There have been conflicting reports,’ began Dozy Dee, ‘about the troubles at the FTJ Institute.’

‘What’s FTJ?’ I asked.

‘The Institute for Fraud, Theft and Jerrymandering,’ said Sara.

‘I have with me in the studio today,’ said Dozy Dee, ‘the two main protagonists. On my right I have the President of the Institute, Dr Wabufi Kafupi, Professor Emeritus of Political Engineering and Jerrymandering. On my left is the President of the Board of Governors, Mr Excellent Kabeji. Now first of all Dr Kafupi, I’d like to hear your side of the story …’

‘My God!’ I said. ‘Two sides of the story! I thought they dropped that sort of thing in 1969! Where’s Velvet Mango to give us the official version?’

‘The New Deal has got him confused,’ said Sara. ‘He’s been sent to London for treatment.’

‘I’ve come here especially this evening,’ said Kafupi, ‘to announce that I’m expecting …’

‘Even me, I’m also expecting,’ said Sara.

‘Are you really?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ she laughed. ‘I’m expecting Kafupi to be sent to jail.’

‘… that I’m expecting twins,’ said Kafupi.

‘Oh congratulations,’ squealed Dozy Dee, her face transfigured with joy, ‘What a great joy and blessing after your recent troubles.’

‘Yes,’ said little Kafupi, bouncing up and down on his pile of cushions. ‘The previous lot were such a disaster, I thought I’d make a fresh start!’

‘Turn over a new leaf!’

‘Turn over a new wife!’ laughed Kafupi.

‘Look here,’ shouted Kabeji suddenly, ‘He’s telling me about stolen wives instead of stolen gluders. I’m not interested in his philandering, I want to hear about his plundering. Its ten years since he was given 300 billion gluders to build the Institute, and it still hasn’t even got a roof. Meanwhile his building foreman, Mr Tricky Kawalala, has built mansions all over town, three hotels in the Bahamas, and caused the Meridien Bank to go bust.’

‘I wonder why,’ said Kafupi, edging closer to Dozy Dee, and putting his arm around her, ‘you bothered to invite this Kabeji. He’s just President of the Governors, in charge of routine administrative matters. As Professor Emeritus of Political Engineering, I’m the one in charge of buying and selling presidents. In fact I’m the one who bought him, I mean appointed him. If he doesn’t behave himself,’ he said, getting closer and taking a little nibble at Dozy’s Dee’s ear, ‘I could even appoint you as the next president.’

‘Ooh you naughty little Kafupi,’ simpered Dozy Dee, ‘don’t say things like that. There might be people listening!’

‘This is better than Kabanana,’ I said.

Now the camera turned to Kabeji, who was becoming inflated with rage, like a huge football.

‘I can see why he’s called Kabeji,’ laughed Sara.

‘What I would like to know,’ shouted the Kabeji, ‘is whether the name of this Institute indicates that we are in favour of Fraud, Theft and Jerrymandering, or are we against it?’

The camera returned to Kafupi, who was now sitting on the lap of Dozy Dee, with his back towards the Kabeji. ‘Ooh my darling Dozy Dee, I’ve always liked big women, and you could be quite a challenge. What’s the silly Kabeji talking about now?’

‘He’s asking whether you are in favour of fraud and theft.’

‘What a silly question. Does the Drug Enforcement Commission force people to use drugs? Of course not! Are ordinary people forced to join the Police Force? Of course not, entry is restricted to criminals! Is the Anti-Corruption Commission against corruption? Of course not! We’d better stop answering his silly questions or he’ll work himself up into another rage!’

‘Ooh you’re such a delicious and witty little man, and so affectionate as well,’ purred Dozy Dee, as she put Kafupi’s head on her breast, and tenderly stroked his bald patch. With that, Kabeji roared with rage and marched out.

‘I don’t blame him,’ said Sara. She was so biased against him.’

‘She let her emotions get the better of her,’ I said.

Then ‘THE END’ filled the screen, as the continuity girl announced ‘The part of Kabeji was played by Augustine Lungu, Kafupi was played by Benne Banda, and Dozy Dee was played by Doreen Mukanzo. This episode was written and directed by Spectator Kalaki.

‘Has Dozy Dee made the right choice?’ continued the faceless voice. ‘Will she also have twins? Will Kawalala really be arrested? Does the Kabeji have a heart? Where is Velvet Mango? Tune in next week for the next episode of Kawalala!’

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Civics Lesson

[First published on 4th April 2002, this article reveals the strange education which gave rise to such peculiar leaders]

Civics Lesson

The Civics Teacher, Mr Amuna Mupampamina, swept into the classroom and wrote the date in the top right hand corner of the board. ‘4th April 1972!’ he proclaimed, as he turned triumphantly to the class. ‘And where are you all going to be in thirty years time?’

‘We are the leaders of tomorrow,’ said a voice from the back. ‘We shall be members of parliament and ministers.’

‘That’s right,’ replied the teacher. ‘That’s why you have been specially selected as the worst delinquents to come here to Numali Secondary School. You are the elite!

‘Take Mupupu Kafupi,’ he said, pointing at a tiny boy busy carving his initials on the desk. ‘He was sent to us from Lubumbashi Boys, after impregnating the headmaster’s daughter and killing his dog. Or was it the other way round?’

‘Excusez moi, mon professeur, maintenant mon nom est …’

‘English, please, Kafupi!’

‘Pardon, monsieur, I was just saying that I changed my name last week to Wabufi Kadoli. So now I have a clean record.’

‘Whoever you are,’ laughed Mupampamina, ‘I’m sure you’ll go a long way. Can anyone suggest any reasons why it is that delinquents always make the best leaders? Let’s have a little parliament to debate the issue. I shall be your Speaker. Will Samba, what do you say?’

‘In my considered opinion, Mr Speaker, the reason is that delinquents have a healthy contempt for all established traditions and rules, so they have the imagination to envisage a different society.’

‘But is that entirely true?’ asked the Speaker. ‘I’m not sure if I can allow that.’

‘Sir, as the Speaker, are you supposed to join in the debate, and suppress other people’s opinion?’

‘Be quiet, Sibetta. You’ve forgotten that I’m also your Civics Teacher. I shall put the question to Vicious Malambo. What do you think are the special qualities of the delinquent? Why do they always despise the rules.’

‘Not entirely correct, sir! Delinquents don’t always despise the rules, sir. Once I have changed the rules to suit myself, I always have the greatest respect for them.’

‘Very perceptive,’ said Mupampamina. ‘Sometimes the principles of delinquency seem to fit well with the principles of government. So what is the basic principle of government to which we have to adjust?’

With the lesson now warming up, several hands were raised towards the teacher.

‘The re-re-re-rule of rule of of raw,’ stuttered Stutter Mwansamumbi.

‘But who makes the rules?’ scoffed Cycle Mata. ‘Is it not the rule of men!’

‘It’s the words that matter!’ countered Velvet Mango. ‘The rule of lies!’

‘But why do we lie?’ asked Bedstead Dimba. ‘Isn’t it because we’re ruled by our appetites!’

‘Then it’s the rule of money!’

‘Order, order!’ shouted the Speaker. ‘Eunuch Kapimpinya! You’re asleep!’

Kapimpinya woke up with a start, and looked round for his lunch box, which had disappeared. ‘Thievery! Theft!’ he shouted.

‘I’ll accept that!’ declared the Speaker. ‘Thievery and Theft, those are the basic principles of government. All the other suggestions can be struck from the record, I’m not interested in them!

‘Now somebody tell me,’ said the Speaker, ‘what is the difference between the rich and the poor?’

‘Theft,’ said Machungwa. ‘The wealthy become rich by stealing from the poor.’

‘Quite right,’ said the Speaker. ‘And what is the method for this essential process of capital accumulation?’

‘Taxation,’ replied Kasonde, ‘is the principal method for transferring money from the poor to the rich.

‘And why is this money transferred to the rich?’

‘So that the poor will respect them as their betters and their rulers.’

‘So can you give me an alternative word for property?’


‘Very good. And what is the purpose of the judiciary?’

‘To protect the rich from the poor.’

‘Why do the ruling class need so much money?’

‘To buy votes to steal the election.’

‘But why do they need to steal the election.’

‘So that they can steal the presidency.’

‘And why do they need to steal the presidency?’

‘To be given immunity from theft.’

‘Very good. I’m sure you’ll all pass the exam, and never have to do a day’s work in your lives. But I must particularly draw your attention to the vocabulary we have been using. This is the vocabulary of the classroom, meant only for the training of the elite.

‘In later years, when I am the Speaker, and you are my members of parliament, I don’t want to even hear the word theft. You must stick to the proper parliamentary vocabulary of taxation, property, profit, privatisation, compensation, emoluments, allowances, gratuities, and so on. The word theft is used only when the poor steal from the rich. Therefore it is a word for the courtroom, not for parliament.’

Kadoli yawned and looked at his watch. ‘Half past ten. Time for break!’

‘That’s my watch!’ shouted Mupampamina.

‘I’m a quick learner,’ laughed Kadoli. ‘Its just been privatised!’

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stray Bullet

[A Commission of Inquiry investigates a gang of criminals called the Police Farce! Is this the Barotseland Inquiry of 2011? No! This piece was written in July 2001]

Stray Bullet

It was the morning of 15 January 2002, and the Truth Commission was sitting in the Mpulumushi Conference Centre. In the chair sat Saint Simon Sucker, with his two other Commissioners, Quack Quackwie and Clueless Cluo.

‘In the dock this morning,’ began Saint Simon, ‘we have the former Inquisitor General, Mr Slyarse Nyangalala.’

Turning to Nyangalala, Saint Simon spoke slowly and solemnly. ‘The People of Zambia charge you with arming a gang of thieves and criminals, commonly known as the Police Farce, to protect the Movement for Murdering Dissidents from the consequences of their crimes.’

‘My client Mr Slyarse Nyangalala,’ said Robot Siboza, ‘has hired me as his attorney, to speak for him. He refuses to speak because he has done nothing wrong.’

‘I wonder,’ quacked Quack Quackwie, ‘if he has done nothing wrong, then why has he hired a lawyer to defend him? Perhaps there is another reason why he refuses to speak?’

‘Yes indeed there is,’ replied Siboza. ‘After thirty years of service in the Police Farce, his English is very limited.’

‘Let’s get down to particulars,’ said Saint Simon, with some irritation. ‘Let us take, as an example, Nyangalala’s strange inability to find out who murdered Mr Paul Baldwin Ronald Wezi Ng’uni Ngenda Tembo …’

‘His long name was the main obstacle,’ interrupted Siboza. ‘By the time Nyangalala had finished writing out the name of the alleged murder victim, the witnesses had always forgotten their evidence.’

Alleged murder victim?’ queried Quack Quackwie. ‘The victim took a bullet right between the eyes! Is that not murder?’

‘There remains the intriguing but unanswered question,’ smirked Siboza, ‘of whether the alleged victim may have accidentally and allegedly walked into a stray bullet which had been allegedly wandering around the town quite innocently, thereby causing the alleged death.’

Alleged death?’ clucked Clueless Cluo.

‘With all due respect,’ sneered Siboza, ‘if the Commission had more forensic experience, they would be aware that not all bullets cause death. In the case of politicians, it is common for bullets to pass straight through the head without doing any damage at all.’

‘I myself attended the funeral,’ cried Clueless Cluo, her wobbly fat trembling with rage. ‘Ten thousand mourners saw the corpse laid out in the coffin.’

‘But did you have a doctor check the pulse of the alleged corpse?’ asked Siboza. ‘Do not forget that the opposition is in the habit of staging mock funerals, merely as a way of causing political embarrassment to the government.’

‘I can assure you,’ said St Simon grimly, ‘that all three of us Commissioners followed that coffin to the grave, and saw it buried six feet down.’

‘I don’t doubt that you all followed a coffin to Leopards Hill,’ laughed Siboza. ‘The only question in my mind is whether you followed the same coffin as you saw in the church.’

‘Are you suggesting it was switched?’

‘There are various possible explanations. For example, you must surely be aware that there is always a continuous queue of coffins travelling up the Leopards Hill Road. It is very easy to accidentally join the wrong burial. I myself have done so several times.’

‘Is your client seriously claiming that Mr Paul Baldwin Ronald Wezi Ng’uni Ngenda Tembo is still alive and well?’

‘Excuse me,’ protested Siboza, ‘my client is not making any claims. It is your Commission that is making claims. My client has no information on the whereabouts or health of this person. I was merely pointing out, since you asked me, that there is no convincing or conclusive evidence of murder.’

‘In that case,’ cried Saint Simon triumphantly, ‘could you please explain why the three notorious brothers, Innocent Kaponya, Blameless Kaponya and Harmless Kaponya, were, on 19 July last year, charged in the High Court with the murder of Mr Paul Baldwin Ronald Wezi Ng’uni Ngenda Tembo?’

‘If you refer to the case record,’ retorted Siboza. ‘These three Kaponya brothers were known criminals, who had already used a gun to steal a tube of toothpaste from Shoprite.’

‘But they confessed to the killing.’

‘That was just to try to avoid the death penalty. It turned out, after further beatings, that they made this false confession because they were trying to avoid the mandatory death penalty for armed robbery. To avoid this dreadful fate, they falsely confessed to the lesser crime of killing a politician, so that they would serve only five years for manslaughter.’

‘Then this Commission will also question these Kaponya brothers!’

‘They were all hung last week.’

‘But why were they hung?’ asked Saint Simon. ‘I thought you said they didn’t commit the murder!’

‘You’re not following,’ explaind Siboza patiently. ‘They were hung after being found guilty of armed robbery involving a tube of toothpaste.’

‘Very well then,’ sighed Saint Simon, with some exasperation. ‘We will proceed to the next case. Let us look at Nyangalala’s failure to arrest the culprits in the case of the six hundred petrol tankers which disappeared, and the case of the bogus ICASA contracts.’

‘It will be more difficult to go there,’ Quack Quackie quickly declared. ‘Unfortunately all those secrets went to the grave with Mr Paul Baldwin Ronald Wezi Ng’uni Ngenda Tembo.’

Saint Simon Sucker sighed sadly. ‘So what can we do?’

‘Don’t ask me,’ said Clueless Cluo. ‘I’m Clueless.’