Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Minister's Visit

The Minister’s Visit

What a scene it was at Shoprite Manda Hill!  Suddenly the ZNBC camera crew arrived and set up their lights, right in front of the checkout counters. Next came a bunch of security men, black suits and dark glasses, jabbering into their walkie-talkies, and forming a menacing circle in front of the cameras. Then down from his upstairs office came the managing director, Mr Johannesburg Kurtz, to see what was going on. Finally, there was a roll of drums, and trotting into the shop came a huge fat rhinoceros of a man, squeezed into a bright blue suit three sizes too small for him.
A shiver of excitement went through the crowd of shoppers, as they began to crowd around this impromptu theatre, wondering what was going to happen next.
The rhinoceros took a step towards Mr Kurtz, who put out his hand to greet him. But the rhinoceros ignored the hand and instead stabbed a short fat finger into Kurtz’s chest and barked into his face ‘Do you know who I am?’
The hapless Mr Kurtz leaned backwards, trying to escape the stench of bad breath. ‘I don’t doubt that you’re about to tell me.’
‘Don’t think you can be rude to me!’ squealed the rhinoceros, now spitting fire into Kurtz’s face. ‘I’m the Honorable Mr Chipembele Kambilimbili, Minister for Labour, Factory Inspections, Work Permits and Instant Deportations.’
Now Chipembele pushed his finger up Kurtz’s nose, as Kurtz raised himself on his toes to try to save himself from this embarrassing intrusion into his person. ‘You wouldn’t be allowed to be rude to a minister in your own country!’
‘Well actually,’ said Kurtz, as he finally managed to lift his nose off from the end of Chipembele’s finger, ‘that’s not entirely true, because in my country…’
‘Well you’re not in your country now!’ squealed Chipembele, ‘You’re in my country. And here you have to be polite to the minister!’
‘Certainly sir,’ said Kurtz, bowing slightly. ‘Is there any matter in which I can be of assistance? Are you returning some foodstuffs which were not entirely up to your expectation? Some ice-cream that was too cold? Some chocolate that proved too sweet? A bottle of wine, perhaps, which tasted of alcohol?’
A ripple of mirth went round the audience.
Chipembele put his mouth up against Kurtz’s ear and screamed ‘Ever since you arrested my nephew for stealing a tube of toothpaste I’ve been waiting to get even with you. And now I’ve come to sort you out! I’m here to inspect your shop!’
‘Certainly sir,’ replied Kurtz, ‘Let me first show you our extensive range of toothpastes, all at competitive prices.’
‘But not free of charge,’ said a voice from the audience, as everybody laughed and clapped.
But Chipembele now ignored Kurtz, and instead bent down to the cashier at the checkout counter. ‘How much do they pay you my dear?’
‘Twenty thousand a day,’ she replied sadly.
‘Just as I thought!’ shouted the minister. ‘Slavery! I hereby increase your wage by 100%! You will now receive two million a day! With immediate effect!’
‘Hurray!’ shouted the crowd. ‘A man of action!’
After the cheering had died down, Kurtz said ‘I think you’ll find a 100% increase on twenty pins brings the daily wage from twenty to forty pins.’
‘Boo!’ laughed the crowd. ‘Deport him!’
‘Everybody knows,’ scoffed Chipembele, as he turned to the crowd, ‘that a 100% increase means adding two zeros, so twenty thousand becomes two million! We employ foreigners who can’t even do arithmetic, while our own graduates remain unemployed!’
‘Revoke his work permit!’ shouted the crowd, as they laughed and clapped.
Now the minister, encouraged by the crowd, was warming to his task. He turned to the woman who had been just about to pay for her grocery. ‘How much are you being charged for all this?’
‘Three hundred and twenty thousand,’ replied the woman.
‘See how this Kurtz robs us!’ shouted Chipembele. ‘He knows very well that my government has just knocked off three zeros, and the right price should now be three hundred and twenty kwacha!’ He turned back to the customer, saying ‘Just give the cashier a one thousand note.’ Then turning to the cashier, he said ‘Now you give her change of six hundred and eighty kwacha.’
‘Hurray!’ laughed the crowd. ‘More money in our pockets!’
‘And look at this!’ Chipembele crowed, as he picked up a tin of sardines. ‘It says expiry date June 2016!’ Then he put his finger into the ring on the tin, and ripped off the lid. ‘Look!’ he exclaimed triumphantly, as he lifted a sardine high into the air for all to see, ‘These sardines are all dead! They suffocated! They expired a long time ago!’
‘Even the chickens!’ laughed the crowd. ‘They’ve all expired!’
Then Chipembele swaggered up to Kurtz and tipped the contents of the tin over his head. Kurtz stood there patiently, wearing a wry smile, and wondering what might happen next, as the sardine oil dripped down his face.
And what happened next was even more surprising. The film director leapt out from behind the camera, shook Kurtz by the hand. ‘Well done!’ he said, as everybody cheered. ‘You have just appeared on Candid Camera!’
‘Good God!’ laughed Kurtz. ‘I never guessed! That ugly fat fellow really looks like Chipembele! I really thought he was the Minister of Labour and Whatever!’
‘And so he was!’ laughed the director. ‘But there was another reshuffle last week, and now he’s the Minister for Comedy and Error. We’re putting his comedy show on TV every night.’
‘I’ll watch out for it,’ said Kurtz. ‘What’s it called?’
‘It’s called The News,’ he replied.   


  1. The brains of Kalaki!!

  2. Kalaki; you've made my day. I am going for work with a smile on my face. Thank your stars kalaki! PF is your father Xmas! They will provide you with a bottomless pit of raw materials to work with!

  3. Kalaki; when will we see the motion pictures of your creativety?