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!'

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