Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Consultant

The Consultant
It was Wednesday morning, and around the great table was assembled the entire cabinet, except of course for the usual few whose brains were under medical review at the Mourningside Clinic. But this was not a normal cabinet meeting. This was a workshop entitled Hanging on to Power.
At the end of the cabinet room stood the Workshop Facilitator, ready to address the workshop participants. ‘I didn’t expect to have to come here today,’ he began, ‘but when this government realised it was gradually losing its grip on power, they thought they’d better call me back to give you some more in-house training.’
The ministers looked at each other greatly perplexed, saying ‘That sounds like the voice of the Master Dribbler, but where is he?’
Seeing the problem, the Cabinet Secretary bent down, picked up the tiny Workshop Facilitator and stood him on a chair. ‘Hurray!’ they all shouted. ‘Kafupi is back!’
Sure enough, there on the chair stood the notorious Mupupu Kafupi, Professor of Hypocrisy and Dribbling (PhD) and Consultant on Political Trickery. ‘Let me begin this workshop by asking you a question,’ he said. ‘What is the purpose of holding political power?’
Immediately a monstrous oaf raised his enormous arm. ‘Yes, Dishonourable Shikashiwa,’ asked Kafupi, ‘what is the answer?’
‘To fill our pockets,’ replied Shikashiwa.
‘Mistake!’ squealed Kafupi, jumping up and down excitedly on his high heels. ‘Somebody tell me, why is that a mistake?’
A shrunken little weasel raised his bony hand. ‘Yes, Mealie Mouth Mulufyanya,' said Kafupi sarcastically, 'so even you realise that was a mistake?’
‘Yes it was a mistake,' Mulufyanya replied eagerly, 'because Rotten Shikashiwa is the Minister of Misinformation, and therefore he should never tell the truth!’
‘That's another mistake!’ snapped Kafupi angrily. ‘Let me ask a more simple question. Which country are you governing?’
'Zambia,' they all answered enthusiastically.
‘Partly right,’ said Kafupi, trying to encourage the dull fellows. ‘But the government also works for the benefit of another country. Which is that?’
‘China?' suggested Strangulation Mushukilila, Minister for Bungling the Budget.
‘Another big mistake,’ said Kafupi grimly. ‘Now I see the problem with you fellows. You never know when to tell the truth and when to lie. Worst of all, you have a terrible tendency to get it the wrong way round.’
‘So how do we know which is which?’ they groaned. ‘Is there a simple rule we can follow?’
‘That’s why I’m here today,’ said Kafupi. ‘You have to know which button to press. It depends whether you're talking about Zambia or Zombia.'
‘But how do we know which is which?’
If you press the Zambia button then you must follow constitution and the rule of law, and the government is there to provide services to the people. In Zambia you must be clear that you are Zambians and that you are working for your fellow Zambians.’
‘So what about Zombia?’
‘If you press the Zombia button, then the system and vocabulary is quite opposite. Zombia is not guided by any constitution and the police are there to investigate your political opponents, now called enemies of the state. The purpose of the judiciary is to put these enemies in jail. Above all, if you are Zombies in Zombia, then your job is to suck money out of Zambians.’
‘So which are we?’ cried a puzzled voice. 'Are we Zambians or Zombies?'
‘I’m glad you asked that question, because the answer reveals the secret of which button you must press. Here in this room we are all Zombies.’
‘If we are Zombies, then we only need one button!’
‘It’s not quite that simple,’ explained Kafupi. ‘You have to press the Zambia button when you want to know what to say, but press the Zombia button when you want to know how to act.’
‘I don’t understand this at all,’ complained Strangulation Mushikilila. What about my budget? Is it Zambian or Zombian?’
‘A nice example of the current state of prevailing idiocy,’ scoffed Kafupi. 'You completely bungled the budget by confusing Zambia with Zombia. You allowed donor money to be stolen from the Ministry of Death even though you know the donors are always watching over their money. It is only the tax collected from Zambians which should be put in the Zombia budget, from where it can be safely used for party cadres, slush funds, bribing magistrates, building mansions and so on.'
‘Then I wonder,’ said the puzzled Mushikilila, 'whether the word steal exists in Zombia.'
‘Of course it doesn't,’ snapped Kafupi irritably. ‘Only Zambians steal, but Zombies do not. In Zombia the head of government is the king. A king, by definition, already owns everything. If he takes something which already belongs to him, he cannot possibly be stealing. Since the entire government acts in the king’s name, the very notion of the government stealing is entirely meaningless and incomprehensible.’
Just then was the sound of a large snore, and then a crash as the Great Leader Nyamasoya fell backwards off his chair, woke up with start, and looked at his watch. ‘Good gracious!’ he exclaimed, ‘my plane must be waiting. I’m due to attend the Dance of the Naked Virgins in Orgyland, I must be off!’
‘I can see you all need a lot more tuition,’ declared Kafupi, as the sound of the Nyamsoya’s large clumsy feet receded down the corridor. ‘So while he’s away, I shall be taking over.’
Mushikilila scratched his head. ‘Is that allowed in the constitution?’
‘You’ve pressed the wrong button again,’ laughed Kafupi. ‘In Zombia, there’s no such word.’

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