Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Order! Order!

Order! Order!

‘In parliament today,’ said the newsreader, ‘the government introduced the First Reading of the new Abolition of Corruption Bill...’

Sara and I had just settled down for the 7 o’clock news, ready to be entertained with more preposterous propaganda. ‘Isn’t it sad,’ I said. ‘Forty years of anti-corruption, and corruption is worse than ever!’
As we were talking, the picture had moved to parliament, where a few overweight gentlemen were asleep. Also asleep, on a high chair in the middle, sat a strange figure with long white hair and a long black skirt. ‘Is that a man or a woman?’ I wondered.
‘It’s the Speaker.’
‘But is it a man or a woman?’
‘Difficult to tell,’ she laughed.
Then something very strange happened. An empty black suit, which had been draped over one of the green benches, suddenly stood up and adjusted the microphone in front of it. Then, out of the collar of the empty suit rose a long thin red-lipped snake. And out of the red lips came a forked tongue. ‘Mr Speaker, sir, I rise to introduce the First Reading of the Abolition of Corruption Bill. This effectively replaces the earlier Anti-Corruption Act of 1980.
‘At last!’ I cried. ‘Corruption to be abolished!’
‘The earlier act now needs revising because corruption was defined as abuse of office for personal gain. That was during the Second Republic when the government was concerned with social rather than private gain. Now, in this Fourth Republic, we are in an era of entrepreneurialism and promotion of private enterprise. Nowadays ministers are encouraged to set up their own businesses and get rich, in order set an example to other citizens.
‘But unfortunately, ministers have been constrained from making good management decisions for enhanced and exemplary private enrichment, for fear of this archaic law which prohibits private enrichment, calls it abuse of office, and then defines this as corruption. But with this new Bill, we can bring the law up to date, by making clear that using government resources for private wealth creation is the desired form of economic development. With this re-definition, therefore, the earlier conception of corruption falls away, and is effectively abolished.’
But as he was talking, a burly figure with a huge bristly white beard walked into the chamber and sat on the back bench. The Deputy Speaker poked the Speaker in the ribs, and he woke up with a start, shouting ‘Order, order!’, thereby waking up the entire house.
‘That’s the dreaded Pong Mpongo!’ said Sara. ‘He’s the opposition!’
‘Is it not corruption,’ shouted Mpongo, ‘for the police to set up roadblocks to enrich themselves?’
‘Certainly not!’hissed the red-lipped snake. ‘We are encouraging privatization and self-reliance in the Police Farce.’
‘Is it in order for service chiefs to set up their own factories to provide uniforms for the troops?’ snarled Mpongo.
Now the Speaker was truly aroused from his slumber. ‘Order! Order! You may only speak when I tell you to speak, that’s why I’m called the Speaker!’ he screamed.
‘This law encourages ministers to steal!’ snorted Mpongo.
‘Be careful what you say,’ hissed the snake menacingly, ‘Ministers act on behalf of our Beloved Head of State!’
‘Thieving ministers must be brought to court!’ shouted Mpongo.
‘His Excellency would never allow it,’ sneered the snake.
‘If he doesn’t allow it, then where is the independence of the judiciary?’ Mpongo crowed in triumph.
‘Now the Ancient Unspeakable Speaker rose trembling to his feet. ‘Order! Order!’
‘Ha ha,’ laughed Mpongo, ‘what do you order?’
‘I order the Parliamentary Disciplinary Committee to consider whether you should be expelled from this House for ignoring the Speaker. I order the Police Farce to arrest you for using the derogatory and dimunitive ‘he’ to refer to His Most Beautiful and Sweet Smelling Excellency the President. And I order the Chief Injustice to bring you before a full bench for questioning the independence of the judiciary.’
‘Ha ha,’ laughed Mpongo, as he walked out of the chamber. ‘You’ve forgotten about the separation of powers. You’re ordering the end of the constitution…’
Suddenly the screen went blank, and then the newsreader re-appeared. ‘We must apologise to the viewers. We seem to have lost the rest of that clip. However, in a later development, Mr Pong Mpongo was arrested by alert security officers in the parliament carpark, for threatening the security of the state by reversing without a reversing licence.
‘In another development in Mongu, St Paul has been arrested for holding a meeting in his church without a police permit, and for being in unauthorized possession of a placard bearing the anti-government slogan Thou shalt not steal.
‘But in a more positive development, the Secretary for Propaganda, Mr Dickhead Jelly, has announced that the president is pleased to promote the Auditor General, Ms Granny Chongololo to the diplomatic service, where she is now the Second Secretary in Northern Siberia.
I turned off the TV and banged the table. ‘Things are going from bad to worse! This country is falling apart!’
‘Order! Order!’ shouted Sara.
‘Order? What do you order?’
‘I order you,’ she laughed, ‘to go to the sideboard and get yourself a double brandy!’

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rumble in the Jungle

Rumble in the Jungle

Sara was already hidden behind The Post as I joined her for breakfast. ‘What’s in the paper this morning?’ I asked.
‘Tonight it’s the Rumble in the Jungle. The notorious Punching Fist is challenging the Mighty Monstrous Dinosaur for the crown, to be King of Zambia.’
‘Really?’ I said, as I poured my cornflakes. ‘Isn’t there supposed to be an election?’
‘You’re completely out of date,’ laughed Sara. ‘It was one of the main recommendations of the National Conference of Clowns. The Dinosaur even announced in September last year that he was going into training for the big fight.’
‘So why do away with elections?’
‘They had degenerated into warfare between rival militia,’ she laughed, as she cracked open a boiled egg with one blow of her knife. ‘So the NCC decided to revert to the old traditional African method of confining the fight to the two main contenders.’
So later that same day Sara and I were in our balcony seats in a packed Mulungushi Hall, waiting for the big fight to begin. Down below us was the boxing ring.
‘It’s well past eight,’ I said ‘where are the officials?’ But as I spoke three old men hobbled in with the help of walking sticks.’
‘Most of our judges are terribly bent,’ said Sara sadly.
‘Their backs are probably bent from too much studying of law books,’ I suggested.
‘From constantly attending to their pockets,’ she replied.
Now there was a general booing and hissing, as a sinister figure in a black cloak slithered into the ring. ‘That’s the red-lipped snake,’ said Sara. ‘He makes the rules, decides all cases, and controls the judges. He’s going to be the referee.’
‘Oh dear,’ I said.
Next down the aisle came Punching Fist, followed by his faithful retinue.
‘So how did the Punching Fist become the number one contender?’ I asked Sara. ‘He looks old and battered!’
‘He appointed himself as chief contender years ago,’ laughed Sara, ‘but he’s never won a fight in his life.’ As we were talking, poor old Punching Fist managed to climb through the ropes at the third attempt, and began running round in circles, punching the air in a very aggressive fashion. ‘His real name is Cycle Mata,’ said Sara. ‘He’s very experienced at running round in circles.’
Now, at last the Mighty Monstrous Dinosaur came lumbering in from the back entrance, missed the ring entirely, and went lumbering out through the front door, as his handlers frantically tried to pull him back. ‘He’s got no vision,’ Sara laughed, ‘and no sense of direction.’
At last they brought the old dinosaur back. ‘I thought you said he’d been in training for a year,’ I said. ‘He’s enormously fat.’
‘He trains by getting fatter,’ explained Sara. ‘Wait ’til you see his fighting strategy.’
As we were talking a huge square of leather, hanging from a rig of four ropes, came down from the ceiling. The dinosaur stepped onto it, and was lifted into the ring. The timekeeper rang the bell, and the fight began. But as PF rushed towards his opponent, MMD was lifted up into the air by the rig, and PF found himself punching the thin air.
‘What’s going on?’ I shouted to Sara, as the crowd cheered.
‘It’s called rigging. The dinosaur swings on the rig like a battering ram, and tries to knock Cycle Mata out of the ring. The strategy is to float like a butterfly and swing like a tree.’
Again MMD came swinging overhead, as PF tried to punch, but couldn’t reach. ‘Low blow!’ shouted the Red-lipped snake, as he called PF over for a caution. With PF’s attention now distracted by the referee, MMD came swinging back and caught PF from behind, knocking him clean out of the ring. ‘Knock-out!’ declared the referee.
But no sooner had he spoken than one of the ropes of the rig fell loose, the dinosaur tipped sideways, fell heavily onto the canvas, and lay there motionless. ‘Oh my God!’ said Sara. ‘They shouldn’t have let old Velvet Mango do the rigging. He’s now too old and doddery! The rope must have slipped from his hand!’
The crowd sat there in stunned silence as a black hearse drove in, and the ghastly remains of MMD were carried away.
‘MMD is the winner by unanimous decision of the bench,’ intoned the chief judge, as all three judges pocketed their brown envelopes.
‘I appeal against the decision,’ shouted Cycle Mata, ‘because of the blatant rigging, the brown envelopes that were given to the judges, and because I wasn’t knocked out. Furthermore, my opponent is now dead.’
The red-lipped snake turned on him angrily. ‘MMD is not dead, but has merely been sent to Paris for refrigeration treatment. Your appeal cannot be considered because such an appeal would cast doubt on the integrity of our judges. Case dismissed.’
‘That was inconclusive,’ I said to Sara as we walked home. ‘Now nobody is king.’
‘Nobody is much better,’ said Sara. ‘Nobody to steal the money.’

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Great Bag of Maize
‘And when,’ I asked, ‘did you first become known as the Great Bag of Maize, or GBM?’
‘Look, Kalaki,’ he chuckled, as his vast belly wobbled around in his huge armchair. ‘I’m in the maize business. The fellows who grow maize become smaller and poorer. But the ones who buy it grow larger and richer.’
‘Sitting here and looking back at those events of two years ago,’ I said, ‘how do you feel about it now? There you were, with all the money you wanted. You’d bought yourself a mansion in Kabungula and a seat in parliament. Then suddenly you were arrested for beating your wife, and people were calling you the Great Bullying Monster. Wasn’t that a Gigantic Big Mistake?’
‘You don’t understand, Kalaki. I was the head of a large family and I had a big business and plenty of money. My next career move was obviously the presidency.’
‘I understand that alright. It’s a natural progression. You’d got plenty of excess cash to buy votes, you naturally want to go for the top job. But my question is, instead of getting yourself on all the front pages for some charitable work, such as distributing peanuts to the orphans of maize farmers who had committed suicide, you managed to get on all the front pages for battering your wife!’
‘Exactly. It was a good career move. You see, people were fed up with lies and hypocrisy. They wanted an honest man as president. God appointed me head of my household in Kabungula. So if my family respect God they must respect me. God has given me the job of maintaining discipline, to ensure that all members of the household are there to serve me and to fear me. When I walk into the house, I don’t expect to hear anybody cough, let alone be cheeky.’
‘But your party, the Putrefaction Front, was in favour of equal rights for women.’
‘The Putrefaction Front!’ shouted GBM, ‘stinks of hypocrisy! They support democracy in public, but they are little kings in their own homes! They beat their wives in private, but denounce wife-beaters in public.’
‘So when you came out of jail, you started your own party?’
‘When I came out of jail, I was a national hero. Within a couple of months, after I had got back into training, I won the vacant All-Africa Wife-Beating Championship (WBC) belt.’
‘You didn’t think of fighting other men?’
‘I am a peaceful man, I’ve always been against fighting, especially other men. We men must unite together, in order to discipline our wives. Only a properly disciplined wife can love her husband. When we have discipline in the home, then we can have discipline in the nation.’
‘So was that when you started your own party?’
‘Yes, that was the beginning of the New PF, the Punching Fist.’ He waved his fist proudly towards the huge French window, through which we could see the grand drive into State House. ‘We won the election easily, only six months after being registered. Velvet Mango devised such a crafty strategy that we didn’t even have to rig. The women’s vote was split between the three other parties, so we won easily.’
As we were talking, a woman with a bandage over her eye hobbled on crutches past the French window. ‘That’s my beloved wife Punchbag,’ said GBM proudly. ‘She’s wearing the latest in First Lady fashion, and many other women are now dressing like her.’
‘And is government now different under the wise guidance of the Punching Fist?’
‘Much the same,’ he laughed. ‘Our discrimination against women is much the same as during the previous government. The only difference is that the previous government claimed that it was struggling to end discrimination, whereas we are honest, and openly support the subordinate position of women in our traditional culture.’
‘And what about other policies?’
‘Our policy is to maintain discipline in the state just as we do in the home. Any critics or protesters are immediately jumped upon by the police, beaten up and thrown into jail.’
‘Isn’t that the same as before?’
‘Exactly. But the previous government claimed it supported freedom of expression and freedom of association. Whereas I am very clear that I am the Father of the Nation, and that anybody who says otherwise should expect to get thumped.’
Just then we heard a huge crash. GBM struggled to heave himself out of his chair. We rushed to the French window, to see that the huge wrought iron gates had been pushed over, and thousands of women were pouring into the garden as the guards scampered.
GBM ran squealing for his life, like a demented hippo, as angry women chased him across the ruins of the golf course. I stood there at the portico, watching the scene. Then towards me came Esther Phiri, punching the air with her red boxing gloves. ‘Thanks for delaying him, Kalaki!’ she said softly as she slipped her strong arm around me and gave me a powerful kiss. ‘I’m giving you a job in my new government. You’re going to be my First Lady!’
‘Not me!’ I shouted, as I jumped on my bicycle. ‘I’m off!’
[Kalaki acknowledges help from several Facebook friends, especially Vincent Sampa for introducing me to Esther, and Anthony Mwanaumo for the WBC]

Friday, September 10, 2010


[Kalaki was recently asked to write the script for some five minute TV skits. This is one of his efforts...]

SCRIPT for TV Skit

TITLE: The Last Viewer


CHARACTERS: TV News Announcer, reporters, interviewees.

SITUATION: A newscast, with presenter at news desk, with notice at his side saying ‘MUVI TV NEWS’. The news presenter is evidently in the middle of the news, since there is no introduction to the news.



Newscaster: State House has announced that tomorrow will be a day of national mourning for the late Mr Kukhulu Pirika of Katete, who has died aged ninety-two. Mr Pirika was famous as the last surviving viewer of Zambia National Bootlicking Television.

Sources close to the family of Mr Pirika have revealed that the veteran TV viewer had been deaf and paralysed for the past five years of his life, and this may explain why he had never transferred his allegiance to MUVI TV.

I now hand you over to our reporter Kafunsa Mafunso, who has asked government officials about the implications of this sad development.

The scene now switches to the luxurious office of the DG of Bootlicking Television, with the DG lounging back in his luxurious leather office chair…

Kafunso Mafunso: Mr Panda Kanthu, as Director General of Bootlicking TV, how do you feel about the sad departure of your last viewer?

Mr Panda Kanthu: All I can say is that the entire station has been left feeling empty and purposeless ever since our famous lone viewer was taken from us. But the news has been rather delayed, because Mr Pirika actually died on 14th December last year.

Kafunso Mafunso: Last year! Then why was the death only announced this morning?

Mr Panda Kanthu: I am not in a position to comment on official matters of state. You’d better ask the Honorable Minister of Misinformation and Propaganda.

Now the scene changes to Kafunso Mafunso holding the microphone in front of the Minister

Kafunso Mafunso: Mr Shikashiwa, can you confirm reports that Mr Pirika, the last known viewer of Bootlicking Television, actually died last December. And if so, why has the announcement been delayed?

Rotten Shikashiwa: You should know that there is no way I can be expected to comment on information which is sensitive and borders on issues of national security. This is why you journalists in the independent press are now facing statutory regulation!

However, the intrepid Kafunso Mafunso is undeterred, and now tries the same question on the Minister of Miscommunication, who was caught walking out of the Ministry HQ.

Kafunso Mafunso: Honorable Lunglunglunglungwa, as, Minister of Miscommunication, do you have any explanation as to why government has delayed news of the death of Mr Pirika for over seven months.

Mr Hefty Lunglunglunglwanga: You journalists are always trying to read sinister conspiracy into simple and straightforward matters. News of Mr Pirika’s death was delayed merely to give government time to employ RB Capital Partners to carry out a valuation of Bootlicking TV, pending privatisation.

Kafunso Mafunso: And has the valuation now been completed?

Mr Hefty Lunglunglunglungwa: Yes, the company was found to have assets of five hundred houses, nine hundred motor vehicles, and one TV camera. On the other hand it had liabilities of 300 billion, as monies owed to ZESCO customers for paying for a service they never received. Accordingly, Bootlicking TV had been valued at ten kwacha.

Kafunso Mafunso: So will it now be privatised?

Mr Hefty Lunglunglunglungwa: I’m amazed that you young journalists are so out of date. It is now three weeks since Bootlicking TV was bought by Libyan Lies Ltd, which has undertaken to make His Excellency Loopy Vuvuzela Nyamsoya just as popular as President Muamar Gadaffi.

Now the picture returns to the newscaster, sitting at his desk in the newsroom.

Newscaster: And here is a late news item just received from State House: His Excellency Mr Loopy Vuvuzela Nyamasoya, Commander in Chief and Father of the Nation, has just left for a six month working holiday at his new holiday villa in Libya.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Dear Husband

My Dear Husband
Dear Diary, had a brief breakfast with My Dear Husband, before he went off again on one of his official trips. If only the people of this country knew how hard he is working for them. ‘Where are you going this time my dear?’ I asked him.
‘All the kings of Southern Africa have been invited to attend the Dance of the Naked Virgins in Manzini,’ he replied.
‘Ooh,’ I laughed, ‘I hadn’t realized there were any virgins left in Swaziland.’
He reached for his bottle of large blue pills, and swallowed a couple. ‘It’s a big problem, caused by the shortage of men. That’s why we’re all going down there to see what we can do to help.’
My Dear Husband, he’s very concerned about the plight of women, and he has so much love to give.
Dear Diary, It’s such hard work being a Queen. Today I had to spend all day at my Personal Tailor, making sure that I look like a real Queen. And to think, it’s only a couple of years ago that I was wearing ordinary chitenge and nshaupwa bwino. But now I wear bright green chitenge with yellow satin skunaz. I have had the royal chitenge embroidered with gold and silver thread all around the edges, with little fairy lights attached, so that it lights up in the dark.
Mother can’t adjust to my new status. When I showed her my new dress she turned on me like a market woman, saying ‘Thandi, you look like a Christmas Tree.’ How we can be disgraced by our relatives from the village! I had to tell her to know her place, and address me as ‘Your Excellency’ in future. Then I sent her upstairs to bed. If she doesn’t behave herself she’ll soon find herself on the bus back to Lundazi.
Dear Diary, Today My Dear Husband arrived back from Manzini, complete with three Swazi virgins. He was given them by the King of Swaziland, and apparently they’re specially trained in how to look after a king. He says that according to the national policy on women’s advancement, he’s going to appoint them as Ladies of the Bedchamber.
And while they’re settling in, he’s sending me to Mpulumushi to give royal gifts to all the women.
Dear Diary, I spent all day in Mpulumushi, giving the women brown paper envelopes, bags of sugar, and royal blue chitenge printed with the face of the king. So as they danced with joy, the king also danced on their bottoms, which showed how much the king loves his women.
And I explained that they must vote for the king at the next election because the king believes in women’s development. But obviously he can’t bring them development if they don’t vote for him, and if he’s not allowed on their bottoms.
Dear Diary, I was back at the palace in time for supper with My Dear Husband. The new Ladies of the Bedchamber served the supper very nicely, also making sure that the King swallowed his pills. But I was a bit concerned that they were wearing nothing except short grass skirts. But My Dear Husband assured me that we are Pan Africanists, and we must respect African Kulcha.
He also explained that, after my successful trip to Mpulumushi, and because of his government’s policy on gender equality, I would now be equal to the King, with my own separate bedroom. And because of the policy of affirmative action, the three Ladies of the Bedchamber had been promoted to Vice-Queens, and would serve directly under the King.
Dear Diary, Oh Dear, My Dear Husband went to an official ceremony today but came back limping badly. ‘What happened, My Beloved?’ I asked him. He explained that he had been dishing out the Distinguished Order of the Golden Boot to two cheeky politicians, but that he had put the Boot in too hard. ‘They were political heavyweights,’ he explained, ‘and I may have done more damage to myself than I managed to do to them.’
So this evening he flew off to Cape Town, to get treatment at the Naughty Girls Massage Parlour.
Dear Diary, This morning I had an awful row with Mummy, who again deliberately called me Thandi instead of Your Excellency, then went on to claim that the King was cheating on me, that the three floozies in the Jacuzzi were actually his wives, and that the real reason for his trips abroad is that he is busy with Foreign Affairs. So now, as I write, the Old Bat is already on the bus back to Lundazi.
But now, Dear Diary, please forgive me, but I must hide you under this cushion. I’ve got Spectator Kalaki coming for tea this afternoon, and I don’t want him to find my Dear Diary!
[Kalaki's Note: Special thanks to Goli Shi’Nozipho for advice on Lundazi Bling Bling, and to Sipho Muleya for the intrusion of the Vice Queens]