Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The Tower
The people of Zed were mighty puzzled. Right in the middle of town there was a big new building going up, but nobody knew what is was, or what it was going to be.
The first thing that happened was that the whole area was surrounded by a high wall, which was painted black. Then the huge lorries started going in. They went in full of bricks, but came out full of soil. The rumour went round that the building was beginning with six underground floors of torture chambers for the enemies of the government.
After three years a massive structure began to rise above the level of the wall. Was it a prison? A military base? A new headquarters for the Party Militia? Nobody knew.
Up and up it went After another three years it was thirty stories high, bigger than anything else in town. Some people said it was to be the new headquarters for Muammar Ghaddafi, who has just escaped from Libya, and was rumoured to have bought the Republic of Zed for sixty billion dollars.
And another strange thing. The building wasn’t straight. It was winding up into the sky like a crooked snake. For some people this was a sure sign that it was being built by the government, which was notoriously crooked, and couldn’t do anything straight.
But others said that it was foolish to wonder about the purpose of the building, since the government had never had any purpose. It was just being built to enrich government ministers, who always got a ten percent cut on building contracts. And it was crooked because it was being built by crooked contractors who were saving on the cement, using cheap girders, and had never heard of spirit levels.
Finally, after eight years, it was finished, all hundred stories of it, completely coated in black glass, and winding up into the sky like a crooked black snake. The poor citizens of Zed, whose money had been used to build this monstrosity, looked at it with silent rage. Protest was impossible, because protests were met with bullets. And rumour had it that the Crooked Black Tower was specially designed for government snipers.
But now that the building was finished, the truth was finally revealed. The Crooked Black tower had been built in the image of the Crooked Chief Minister, the dreaded Red-lipped Snake, who now stood up in parliament and explained everything. ‘Mr Speaker,’ he said, ‘many of you have been wondering about the huge black tower which the President has generously built for his citizens. This is to be called Constitution Tower, because it embodies the new Constitution which the President is bequeathing to his people.
‘I am pleased to announce that all the institutions of government will now move to the new Constitution, which has been cleverly designed to reveal the new shape of government. On the top floor will be the Presidential Suite, so that the President, who is appointed by God, and is advised by God, can be closer to God.’
‘How will he reach the top floor?’ asked a cheeky fellow on the back bench.
‘The President will use the landing strip on the roof,’ answered the Red-lipped Snake, ‘so that he can fly directly from there to other countries.
‘On the next floor down will be myself as Chief Minister, to take all administrative decisions, since the President will either be talking to God or otherwise out of the country.
‘On the next floor down will be the Ministry of Law, employed to revise the law on a daily basis, in line with the President’s latest whim, as interpreted by myself.’
‘Then what will happen to parliament?’ asked the same cheeky voice.
‘That will be replaced by a rubber stamp,’ declared the Red-lipped Snake.
‘And will that rubber stamp be in parliament?’
‘Certainly not,’ snorted the Red-lipped Snake. ‘It will be on my desk. And on the floor below mine will be the Director of Prosecutions, who will take directions from me on who should be charged with which offence, and who should be given a nolle prosequi, and so on. On the floor below Prosecutions will be the offices of the judiciary.’
‘But won’t they need courts?’
‘In the new simplified Constitution, the Director of Prosecutions will also give the judges instructions on required verdicts and length of sentences. By dispensing with the need to hear evidence, the need for courts automatically falls away.’
‘What about the anti-corruption institutions?’
‘They will work on the floor below the Shushushu, and continue to take instructions from the Shushushu on which enemies of the government should be…
As he was talking there was an almighty thunder of rumbling and crashing, as the walls of parliament shook and the debating chamber filled with dust. The Great Crooked Tower had collapsed, falling vertically into its own basement.
As the news spread, somebody laughed. And then somebody else laughed. And then the whole nation laughed and laughed. They laughed for days. And after that, whenever the Red-lipped Snake appeared in public, people started laughing again. Just one glance at the Crooked Snake and they would remember the Crooked Constitution, and they would fall down on the ground and laugh helplessly.
And, I can hear you asking, did the Red-lipped Snake resign? No, he did not. For in the strange Republic of Zed, there was no word for ‘resign’ in the dictionary.


  1. DownTrodden ZedianApril 12, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Kalaki I willu sue u 4 kracking my spare ribs! Scary little clown he with the red lips!

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