Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Dealer

The Dealer
Yesterday I decided to have a look at the new presidential investment, Pick n’Steal, at Woodlands Roundabout. But as I peddled past Plot One I was surprised to find PPA, in large brass letters, fixed to the gatepost. Being of an enquiring nature, I got off my bike to have a closer look. ‘Muli bwanji, Ba Kalaki!’ barked the two smartly uniformed soldiers, as they drew themselves to attention and saluted.
‘At ease, gentlemen,’ I said amiably. ‘This is not an official visit, so there’s no need for the usual formalities. I just stopped to ask, is this still State House, or is it now the Planned Parenthood Association?’
‘Neither sah!’ replied one of the soldiers. ‘It’s now the Office of the President of the Procurement Authority.’
‘Very good,’ I said, as I saluted the soldiers, and rode my bicycle in through the gate. When it comes to Pick n’Steal, I thought to myself, this should make the bigger story.
As I walked into the presidential office I found somebody sitting behind the huge desk, but hidden behind a copy of The Post.
‘You’re holding that paper upside down,’ I said.
‘It’s the only way I can make sense of it,’ replied a voice from behind the paper. Then he put the paper down and looked at me.
‘Kalaki!’ he exclaimed. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Nyamasoya!’ I exclaimed. ‘What are you doing here? I thought this was now the Procurement Authority!’
‘So it is!’ he laughed, his huge frame wobbling merrily. ‘In these hard economic times, we can’t be using a place like this just for feasting, dancing and useless talk. So I’ve moved the PPA here, and made myself the president of it!’
I took my notebook out of my pocket. This looked like a good story. ‘But surely,’ I said, ‘as head of government, you’ve got so many other things to do! Can you really devote enough time to being President of the Procurement Authority?’
‘The job of president is to make deals for Zambia Ltd,’ he explained. ‘I have to procure investment, loans and grants. I have to procure investors and investment to buy our ailing industries. I have to procure the materials and equipment for the country’s advancement.’
‘Like procuring mobile hospitals?’ I suggested.
‘Exactly. We have to think big, and I’m the man to do it! Instead of sick people moving around looking for a hospital, I shall have mobile hospitals moving around looking for sick people! This is why we have so many sick people in this country, because the hospitals have never been able to find them. Now the hospitals are going to go out there and look for them!’
‘Do you have any other brilliant ideas like that?’
‘I’m full of them. Currently I’m thinking of abolishing schools and replacing them with computers for self-learning, I can get a good deal from South Korea on that one. I’ve got a splendid offer from Japan that would replace judges with robots that can follow instructions properly. Iran is offering nuclear warheads that would completely replace the army. All this is simple economics.’
‘Brilliant!’ I exclaimed, as I busily scribbled in my notebook. ‘But while you’re in charge of procurement, what happens to the rest of the government? Who’s in charge?’
‘Look, Kalaki, procuring investment also means finding investors to privatise all these useless ministries, and turn them into profitable enterprises.’
‘You mean you’ll sell off the entire government, just like you sold Zamtel to the Libyan government?’
‘Exactly. There are endless possibilities. ‘I’m thinking of selling off the Ministry of Education to the Swedes. They have a great interest in education, and want to help the Third World. I’m selling the armed forces to the Americans, they’re running short of men in Afghanistan. I’m selling the Ministry of Health to the British, they want all our patients for testing their new medicines. And there’s a fellow in Cape Town who wants to buy our railway system, he’s planning a high speed train from Cape to Cairo.’
‘What’s his name?’
‘Cecil Rhodes.’
‘We could even re-name the country Rhodesia!’
‘There you are Kalaki! Even you, you’ve got ideas!’
‘But with all this, can you win the next election?’
‘You can’t grasp it can you, Kalaki? The next government will be in charge of nothing, except decisions on where to put the drains, and how to collect the rubbish. I, as President of Zambia Ltd, will be in charge of everything!’
‘What about parliament?’
‘I’ll sell it to the British Museum.’
Just then the door opened, and in came a thin little woman with a sad face. ‘The nurse is here dear, and it’s time for your daily check-up.’
Nyamasoya meekly got up, and left the room without a further word. She turned to me. ‘The poor man, this job is too much for him, he’s being driven to distraction. I’m sorry, Kalaki, Please don’t report what you’ve seen.’
I tore the page from my notebook and threw it in the bin. ‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘nobody would believe it.’

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