Friday, February 3, 2012

The Trough

This piece, first published in July 2002, looks at the corruption in our rotten judiciary…

    The Trough              

             ‘Spectator Kalaki,’ grunted the Judge, ‘you were supposed to appear before this court four weeks ago.  Where have you been?’
             ‘I was taken into psychiatric care, My Lord.  But now I’ve been discharged.’
             ‘Not by this court, you haven’t!’ laughed Justice Pig, squealing with delight at his own remark.  ‘Mr. Judas Musangu, you’re the prosecuting counsel, remind me of the charge on which we intend to find this man guilty.’
             ‘Defamation,’ declared Musangu, as Judge Pig put his long snout into the trough at the front of the bench, pulled out a few dollar bills, rolled them around his mouth, and swallowed them with a loud belch.
             ‘You must address me as My Lord,’ declared the judge sternly.  ‘We must have respect for the judiciary.’
              ‘My profound apologies, My Lord,’ said Musangu, bowing low towards the bench, and slipping a few dollar bills into the judge’s trough to show even further respect.
              ‘That’s more like it,’ declared the Pig, leaning back in his chair and stroking the hairs on his belly with genuine affection.
               ‘This man Kalaki,’ continued Musangu, ‘defamed my respected client, Mupupu Kafupi, the internationally famous thief.  Kalaki misused his column in the Gutter press to declare that the Thief is the President.’
              ‘Not that the President is the Thief?’
              ‘Same thing. My Learned Lord.  If God is King, then King is God.’
              ‘Your argument is based on a very sound constitutional principle,’ agreed the Judge. ‘So proceed with questioning Kalaki, then I’ll sentence him.’
              ‘Spectator Kalaki,’ began Musangu, ‘did you write in your column that the Thief is the President?’
               ‘Even if I did, the question remains of why Kafupi imagined that he was the thief to whom I referred? There are so many thieves to whom I might have been referring.’
               ‘Come off it, Kalaki.  He is the most famous thief in the land.  He is not just any thief, he is our most famous thief. That is why he is famously and affectionately known by his many admirers as The Paramount Thief, or sometimes more informally as The Thief. He rose from stealing tomatoes and school certificates, through to stealing a widow’s inheritance, then government houses, until in the end he stole a whole copper mine.  A capitalist dream of rags to riches.  No den of thieves is complete without a picture of their Paramount Thief on the wall.  When you mention The Thief, everybody knows you mean Kafupi.’
              ‘That is what they may infer, but not necessarily what I imply. But if people think I refer to Kafupi, how have I defamed him by calling him the President? Is it not a great honour to be the President?’
               ‘Really, Spectator Kalaki, don’t get smart with me! You know very well that in the last ten years all our hospitals and schools were destroyed, starvation stalks the land, and millions have died.  A time of bogus trials, false imprisonment, torture, murders and assassinations. You know that if the person responsible for all this can be found, he will certainly be hung. And yet you have suggested that my client, The Popular Thief, our famous Mupupu Kafupi, was actually the one responsible for all this destruction and destitution!’
              ‘But did not little Kafupi prance around in high heels and flashy suits, calling himself President?  Am I the one responsible for that?’
               ‘Mr. Kalaki, really! You know very well that Kafupi was the President of MMD, the Matrix for Money Diversion, an association of common thieves and criminals. He always made it very clear, in word and action, that he was President for only MMD, and not for all Zambia.’
              ‘Perhaps so.  But wasn’t he actually elected as President of Zambia?’
              ‘Really, Kalaki, try to be honest with yourself. You are the very one who has written extensively claiming that the Constitution was hijacked, elections rigged and votes bought. You claimed that the whole of the electoral process was so corrupted that we did not have a President of Zambia, but only a President of Corruption! Now you dare to come here and claim he was duly elected!’
             ‘But everybody else thought that little Kafupi was the President!’
             ‘Half a minute, ‘interrupted Judge Pig, lazily lifting his drooling snout out of the dollar trough, ‘I happened to hear a bit of what you were saying. I was the very judge who presided over the election petition. I can therefore tell you authoritatively that Kafupi was not the man who was elected as President. We never discovered quite who it was, only that it was not Kafupi.’
             So saying, the Judge’s snout fell back into the trough, and rummaged around, soon coming up with another mouthful of dollars. ‘Look at these documents,’ he grunted, as he chewed the dollars thoughtfully. ‘This is the very evidence on which I based my decision.’
              At this point Musangu emptied the contents of a large brown paper bag into the trough. ‘And in view of this further evidence,’ continued the Judge, ‘I find Spectator Kalaki guilty of defamation, and sentence him to be locked up. Locked up! Locked up! …’

               ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ I opened my eyes, to find Sara sitting at my bedside in Chainama Hospital. ‘You’ve been discharged! You weren’t insane, after all! Judge Ngulube was on the take, just as you said!’
               ‘I know,’ I replied. ‘I saw his snout in the trough.’

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