The ZNBC news had just finished. 'What a load of lies and half baked propaganda!' I snorted. 'We must be the last people in Zambia who are still watching this rubbish!'
'Lets turn to Sky News,' said Sara gently, trying to calm me. 'They might have some news about Zambia. Maybe there's been a coup d'etat, or at least at food riot. Something must be happening.'
But imagine our surprise when we switched to Sky News and actually found a news story from Zambia. There was Frank Mupimpila, microphone in hand, saying 'As Master of Ceremonies for tonight, I am pleased to welcome a world-wide audience to the very first Zambian Plunder Awards!'
The camera panned to an expensive audience of the fat and wealthy, all gathered around tables laden with champagne and lobster, and chatting excitedly amongst themselves, wondering who amongst them would be honoured with a coveted Plunder Award.
'America is famous for its films,' began Frank, 'and therefore hosts the famous Oscars Ceremony. Britain is famous for its writers, and has the Booker Prize. But Zambia is a very different place. In terms of natural resources Zambia is estimated to be the richest country in the world, but has the great majority of its citizens living in abject poverty. This famous and startling contrast is entirely due to the extraordinary talent and relentless hard work of our world famous plunderers, most of whom are with us here tonight at the Mulungushi Hall, right here in Lusaka.' With this high praise, everybody present gave themselves a loud round of applause.
'And without wasting any more time,' declared Frank, 'the first Plunder Award is for massive misappropriation, far beyond the
The crowd roared their approval as Mulufyanya stepped up to the stage to accept his well deserved Plunder Award, in the form of a golden key mounted on a polished mukwa base. 'Each Plunder Award takes the form of this Golden Key,' explained Frank, 'which will open the winner's new safety deposit box at the Credit Swisse Bank in Geneva!
'The next Plunder Award,' announced Frank, 'is for the shabbiest form of plunder. This goes to the former minister who claimed payment for staying ten nights at the Red Light Guest House in Luanshya, although all ten receipts show the same date!'
'Hurray!' laughed the crowd! 'It was a long night! He didn't see the red light!'
'This award goes, of course, to Mr Pong Mpongo,' announced Frank, as the crowd booed.
'And now,' said Frank, 'we come to an award for which there is considerable competition. This is the award for ignoring tender procedures, and I have four nominees, as follows: Firstly, the Police Farce, who failed to arrest themselves; secondly, King Kong, for ordering invisible fuel; thirdly, Dollar Sillier, who was sillier than the attorney general; and lastly, Silver Masapo, who ordered a hundred hearses for her own funeral.
'And the winner is … Miss Dollar Sillier.'
'Sillier and sillier!' cheered the crowd as a huge woman, squeezed into a tight red suit, came to collect her prize. She tottered dangerously on her high heel shoes as she climbed the steps onto the stage. 'Her position is precarious,' sniggered Frank, as the crowd cheered, 'she may fall at any moment!
'Now we come to the two big prizes of the evening,' announced Frank. 'Firstly there is the Life Time Achievement Award, which goes to the incomparable Mr Kafupi Mupupu. He started life as a mere bus conductor stealing bus fares, but rose to the position of National Plunderer-in-Chief, where he invented the modalities for looting the Treasury. He is an example to us all.
'Secondly we have Mr Round Belly Nyamasoya, who is given the Legacy Award for giving the word legacy a new meaning. He has faithfully kept his promise in following the legacy of his predecessor by maintaining and even exceeding the previous levels of plundering.
'Unfortunately, neither of these illustrious award winners is able to be with us, so I invite any member of the judiciary here tonight to come and collect their awards on their behalf.' The crowd cheered long and loud as the nation's most notorious magistrate rose to collect the awards.
Now the camera moved to the reception area, where Henry Ngalati was interviewing the President of Transparency International, Mr Rueful Lifulo. 'Well, Mr Lifulo, how do you see this evening's proceedings? Were the awards fairly allocated, or was there corruption in the selection of winners?'
'We are very pleased with the results,' answered Lifulo. 'As you know, the judging was based on the reports of the Auditor General, and we are very satisfied that she carried out her work with he utmost transparency and accountability.'
'So these awards have given recognition to her good work?'
'Very much so. In the past we have complained that her annual reports were simply ignored. But now at last action has been taken.'