Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zambia Ltd

Zambia Ltd

It was late at night and Nyamasoya, Managing Director of Zambia Ltd,
was still pouring over the accounts of his chaotic company. Strewn all
over the floor lay scraps of abandoned paper, each covered with
scribbles of discarded calculations. Nyamasoya stood there, scratching
his head in puzzlement and despair. Arithmetic had never been his strong

But he was rescued by the sound of a motor coming down the long drive.
Ah ha! A visitor might bring a diversion into something understandable,
such as a discussion of the prospects of Bafana Banfana at the World Cup.

As he heaved open the heavy mukwa door, the huge black Mercedes drew
to a halt under the portico. But apart from a uniformed chauffeur, the
car was empty. Where was the passenger? As he stood there puzzled,
doubting his capacity to count above one, an invisible hand opened the
back door, and a tiny figure climbed down onto the pavement. 'Kafupi!'
said Nyamasoya, as he greeted his little friend, 'Thank God you're
back! I've been grappling with those figures you gave me! They don't
seem to add up to anything!'

'Don't you worry your head about such things,' laughed little Kafupi,
as they walked into the conference room, where endless rows of figures
were running up and down the table from one end to the other. 'That's
why you have me as your consultant,' he said, as Nyamasoya lifted him
up onto the great table.

'Look,' said Kafupi, doing a little dance up and down the table
amongst the numbers. 'See how I dribble the numbers! I can score a
goal at either end. Profit or loss, what do you want?'

Now that Kafupi seemed to be talking about football, Nyamasoya seemed
to get a glimmer of understanding. 'But can we have more numbers on
the winning side?' he asked. 'We mustn't show a loss.'

'This is not the whole squad on the pitch,' laughed Kafupi. 'I've got
more numbers under the table! More under the floor boards! More in the
Zamtrop account! The tunnels are stuffed with hidden numbers! You'll
get your share, don't you worry!'

'But I do worry,' said Nyamasoya. 'I don't seem to be seeing any
profit for myself, apart from a couple of houses in Kabulonga and jobs
for my unemployable relatives. And yet I hear of a little accounts
clerk in the Ministry of Death who has built his own fee-paying

'That was a nice bit of privatisation,' smirked Kafupi, 'we're even
squeezing money out of the dead.'

'But why can't I get my share?' shouted Nyamasoya, as he picked up
Kafupi and banged him on the table in annoyance. 'We collect all this
money from taxpayers, and make the donors pay for all the social
services. There must be a big surplus somewhere! So where's my cut?'

'You have to be patient!' squealed Kafupi, as he wriggled out from
between two monstrous fingers, and sped away down the left wing of the
conference table. 'Zambia Ltd also has expenses!'

'What expenses?' growled Nyamasoya. 'We just collect money!'
'It costs money to remain popular,' explained Kafupi.
Nyamasoya hung his head and looked down at the floor. 'They hate me,'
he mumbled.
'Exactly,' said Kafupi. 'That's why popularity is so expensive. We
have to buy it! Do you know how much I spent last week renting crowds
of supporters?'

'Not a clue,' said Nyamasoya.
'Of course you don't,' sneered Kafupi, 'you can't count! How much do
you think it costs me to buy houses so that we can give them away
free? What about the cost of giving brown envelopes to chiefs? What
about buying votes? What about the cost of rigging? Recruiting the
police as company security officers? Buying court judgements? What do
you know about the cost of these things?'

'But what's the point of running the company if we can't make a profit?'
'Have you learnt nothing from the other companies we privatised? If
it's not profitable then we can sell it for a song, and no questions

'But can we sell off Zambia Ltd?'
'Of course. We'll sell it to the Chinese for a dollar.'
'What's the point of that?'
'Then you and me, we'll get our 25% share in the new company! As our
consultancy fee!'

'A 25% share in a dollar?'
'Don't you understand anything? In order to make a loss, Zambia Ltd
was giving away copper free. But now the new Zam-Chin Ltd will start
charging for it! We'll be billionaires! Ah ha! Am I a genius or what?'

Just then a woman's voice was heard from the top of the stairs.
'Kah-Foo-Pee,' sang the voice, 'I want to play with my little Chinese
toyee! Kah Foo Pee! Where are yuwee? It's beddy time! I'm ready for my
naughty little Pee Pee!'

Kafupi jumped down from the table. 'OK, Nyamasoya,' he said irritably,
'I can see you're tired and confused. Off you go, back to the servant's
quarters, and have a good night's sleep!'

After he had got rid of Nyamasoya, he ran angrily upstairs, shouting
'I've told you before! Never use my Chinese name! Never call me Kah
Foo Pee! These people call me Kafupi. They think I'm a Zambian!'

Wednesday, June 9, 2010



A motley crowd of about thirty people peppered the front rows of the church. In front of the altar stood the coffin, decorated not with flowers, but with a black gown and white wig. This indicated that the deceased had once served as an official of the previous republic, when such strange medieval costumes were used to give an impression of wisdom and honour to empty headed scoundrels. The year was 2015, in the Peaceful Republic of Zombia, and three years had now passed since the Peoples Redemption Council took power from the previous corrupt regime.

Standing beside the coffin, about to address the gathering, was one of the mourners. But perhaps we should call them witnesses, for they had not gathered to mourn, but rather to ensure that the deceased was well and truly buried.
‘We are gathered here today,’ he began, ‘to bear witness to the departure of one of the magistrates of the previous notorious regime. The actual name of the deceased is not available to us, because it was lost in the Great Fire which accompanied the Glorious Revolution of 2012, during which the deceased lost his reputation, his name and his mind. However, back in the days before the Revolution, judges did not have names like ordinary citizens. They had titles. A judge had to be called Your Honour, irrespective of how dishonourable he actually was. But ordinary people, who were not as stupid as the judges imagined, had their own names for these enemies of the people. And so we had the Hanging Judge, the Bought Judge, the Bent Judge, the Heartless Judge, and so on.
‘So let me explain to you the origin of the name of the late unlamented magistrate who lies here today. The deceased was famous for bringing cases of contempt against innocent citizens who dared to exercise their constitutional right to express an opinion on the very strange things that were going on in his court. Such strange cases included the malicious prosecution of the demonstrably innocent, and the inexplicable acquittal of the demonstrably guilty.
‘But being comprehensively ignorant of the law, the late departed never understood that the law was made by the people, and he was accountable to the people. Instead he was contemptuous of the rights of the people. And in perfect symmetry with his contemptuous behaviour, the people found his misuse of the law to be beneath contempt. So that became his name. And so, my comrades, what we have here in this coffin today is Beneath Contempt.’
As the witness finished speaking, the congregation stood up and sang a hymn dedicated to the memory of Beneath Contempt, and sung to the tune of What a friend we have in Jesus
What a fool we had in Contempt
All his guilt he has to bear!
How embarrassing to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
How justice went to forfeit!
What Contempt we had to bear!
Pray he never goes to Heaven!
Pray we never find him there!
But then the priest walked to the side of the coffin. ‘As Christians,’ he said, ‘it is not fitting for us to use a eulogy to curse the departed. We are obliged to look at the good side of everybody, and commend his soul to Heaven.’
‘He died of shame,’ said a voice.
‘The Lord puts all of us on Earth for a purpose,’ said the priest. ‘And in the life of Contempt, you have much to be grateful for.’
‘Such as what?’ the same voice interrupted.
‘Without Contempt,’ explained the priest, ‘you would never have understood contempt. As has already been explained by the previous witness, it was because of him that you came to recognise contempt. You recognised him as contemptuous of you, and that is why you found him contemptible.
‘Previously we had always prayed for the government, and prayed to God to guide the government, believing that they had our interests at heart. But God, having heard our prayers, was keen to send us a message so that we could see our situation more clearly. Therefore, through his messenger Contempt, he provided a clear example of how the government was treating people with contempt. This message provided a divine revelation, and marked the beginning of the uprising against the old order. Once people had recognised one instance of government’s contemptuous treatment of the people, they began to see it everywhere. What began as contempt for a contemptible magistrate soon became contempt for the entire government. The Lord, in his wisdom, had opened our eyes. So just like Judas Iscariot before him, Beneath Contempt was an unwitting instrument of our salvation.’
With this message from the priest, the congregation went more thoughtfully to the graveyard. There they watched Beneath Contempt being lowered into a very deep grave, after which a lorry load of cement was tipped on top of him.
‘Can we really believe?’ said one to another, ‘that he deliberately gave outrageous judgements in order to expose the true nature of the government?’
‘We shall never know,’ said the other. ‘But I’m very glad that Beneath Contempt is now Beneath Cement.’

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Political Parasites

'Did you hear the cheek of that little pipsqueak, Mouth Mulufyanya?' asked Sara in exasperation, 'saying that Kabolala Bakalamba should keep his job as Scrounger General!'
Just then Amock came in with the bottle and four glasses. 'Sounds as if we need a drop of brandy,' he said, 'to calm us down.'
'It's monstrous!' continued Sara, apparently unaffected by the soothing liquid, 'did you hear what Mulufyanya actually said? Forgive him, he just made a mistake. We all make mistakes. As if he had been found pocketing the office newspaper, rather than looting the national treasury which he had sworn to protect. If he had any moral sense he would have resigned when he was first arrested.'
'Your argument is incoherent,' I observed. 'If he had any moral sense, he would never have looted the national treasury in the first place.'
'So now,' Sara continued, 'the entire National Excretion Committee has to meet to decide whether he should be excreted.'
'I think you've missed the force of Kalaki's earlier point,' said Amock. 'It is not possible for the excreta on the National Excretion Committee to smell their own stink. The smell that we find disgusting is quite normal to them.'
'Look,' said Jennifer firmly, as she drained her glass and reached for the bottle, 'it's no good just dismissing the ruling elite as a pile of excrement. The MMD may have begun as a Mere Mound of Dung, but now it's Much More Dangerous.'
'Dangerous dung,' I laughed.
'That's the problem with current political argument,' sighed Jennifer,
'it has degenerated into crude metaphors amounting to mere insults. We
need a more sophisticated metaphor on which to base a meaningful
analysis of the economic and social role of the MMD in its systematic
destruction of the nation. We have to understand the MMD as the
Movement of Malignant Drones.'

'Drones are just useless creatures, that have to be fed by others,' said Sara. 'I don't see the analytic power of such a flat and boring metaphor, it doesn't even explain the stink. I prefer the dung.'
'A drone is a parasite that lives off the rest of society,' Jennifer
explained. 'But a malignant parasite is much worse. It is so greedy
and foolish that it eats too much of the host off which it feeds,
thereby destroying both host and parasite.'

'You still haven't explained the notorious stink that comes from MMD.'
'An entire country,' explained Jennifer, 'is a complete integrated
system, rather like the human body. Politicians are the parasites that
live in the bowels and live off us, without doing any work

'So the stink comes from the bowels?' Sara wondered.
'Not entirely. Being a malignant parasite, MMD is eating too much, and is destroying its host body, Zambia. Not being content with just staying in the bowels and taking their share of the regular budget supply, they have now become so greedy that they are eating at the organs. The body is dying bit by bit, causing an increasingly nasty smell which is beginning to stink in people's nostrils.'
'But how do these mere nasty little parasites, previously specialised in eating shit, manage to break out of the bowels and begin eating the other organs?'
'They have many strategies. For example, the Police Corpuscles, that
are supposed to control parasites, have instead been infiltrated by
MMD parasites. This has allowed the parasites to run out of control.'

'But surely,' said Amock, 'our body has a strong constitution, which keeps a balance and separation between one organ and another. The bowels can't just start eating the kidneys and the liver!'
'So we were taught at school,' said Jennifer. 'But a destructive
parasite called the Nasty Cardiac Creeper, the dreaded NCC, has crept
into the heart and destroyed the body's entire constitution.'

'Even so,' I said, 'parliament is the brain which remains in overall control. It can pass statutory regulation to stop the MMD from eating the entire body.'
'Unfortunately,' said Jennifer sadly, 'the Movement for Mental Deterioration has caused the brain to slip down into the bowels. Instead of speaking sense out of the mouth, parliament now speaks nonsense out of the rear end.'
'No longer the voice of the people,' said Amock.
'The voice of the parasites,' said Jennifer.
We all stared glumly into our empty glasses. 'I know what we can do,' I said brightly.
'What?' they all said, hopefully.
'We can have another round!'
Which we did. But still we sat there glumly, without any further
inspiration from the bottle. 'We need a French brandy,' said Amock.
'This South African is too dull.'

'I know what,' I said brightly. 'Since statutory regulation can't work, we must try self regulation. It's in all our interest that everybody restrains themselves. The parasites must eat only half the food in the intestine, and not eat the essential organs, or interfere with the body's constitution. Excessive parasitism will destroy Zambia and we shall all die, including the parasites themselves. We must appeal to their intelligent self interest.'
'Parasites,' said Jennifer slowly, 'don't have intelligence, they only have self interest.'
'In that case,' said Amock, 'it's inevitable that the body will soon
be destroyed by this Massive Malignant Disaster of insatiable

'We need some strong medicine,' said Sara, 'to deal with the situation.'
'Yes,' said Jennifer. 'We need a bottle of Jerry Rawlings Parasite Solution. One dose of that would flush out and destroy all the parasites.'