‘Turn on the news,’ said Sara, ‘I can’t wait to hear the latest on Constable Chilufya’s reshuffles!’
As I turned on the TV, there he sat, in yet another new suit, unsmiling behind the huge arrangements of flowers.’
‘Following my reshuffles of last night,’ began the Constable, ‘I have had complaints from Southern Province that I should not have put Chirundu as part of Lusaka Province, nor moved Itezhi Tezhi to Central Province. Since this is a listening government, I have now moved Chirundu District from Lusaka to Eastern Province, and I have picked up Itezhi Tezhi from Central Province and dropped it into Western Province.
‘In line with the Provincial Fiasco policy of decentralization, and in conformity with my usual practice of wide consultation, I have asked each of my provincial ministers to suggest which of the Southern Province districts they would like to be moved to their province.’
‘In my opinion,’ said Sara, ‘a tourist attraction like Mosi-o-Tunya should be moved to Lusaka.’
‘And what’s more,’ I said, ‘It could solve the water shortage in Ng’ombe.’
‘This decentralization policy,’ declared the Constable gravely, ‘is also affecting local government. As part of this new policy of devolving power to the people I have instructed the Minister of Local Government to instruct the Mayor of Lusaka to instruct his councilors that, with immediate effect, I have moved Kabulonga to Kaunda Square, Kaunda Square to Rhodes Park, and Rhodes Park to Kabulonga.’
‘The Constable has just moved to a bigger house,’ said Sara.
‘With immediate effect,’ I laughed.
‘And now,’ said the Constable, ‘I come to some of the wider consequences of my decentralization policy which also touch on our policy of abolishing school fees.’
‘Ah ha!’ said Sara. ‘Now this is something! I never thought he’d do it!’
‘Since we have a large surplus of educated young people,’ declared the Great Leader, ‘we are not only abolishing school fees, but also abolishing schools. With immediate effect.’
‘How is this decentralization?’ I wondered.
‘Just wait for it,’ laughed Sara.
‘Education will no longer be centralized in schools. Instead young people will be given an opportunity to decentralize their education by individually seeking entrepreneurial and other life-changing experiences. All school buildings will be turned into prisons for members of the previous government.’
‘Instead of providing boring punishment for children,’ said Sara, ‘schools can now do the same job for adults.’
‘In order to keep the former Minister of Education employed,’ continued the Constable, ‘I have instead given him the portfolios of Netball, Artwork, Gender and Other Entertainments.’
‘I wonder if he consulted the women about that,’ said Sara.
‘And now,’ declared the Constable, ‘I come to the more central aspects of my decentralization policy. I have decided that we cannot have our centre of government in a central capital city which is centralized at the centre, because this contradicts our policy of decentralization. Therefore, with immediate effect, I am moving the capital to Mpika. Plans have already been laid for building this new capital, which will be completed in only two months, starting in March and finishing in December.’
‘March to December!’ squealed Sara, clapping her hands. ‘That’s nine months!
‘I think you missed the news on Monday,’ I laughed, ‘when he reshuffled the months.’
‘This building of a new capital,’ continued the Constable remorselessly, ‘is also in conformity with our election promise to increase employment in the country. A tender has already been awarded to Fling Up Company Ltd of Shanghai, which has already been awarded an extra 500,000 visas and work permits.’
‘What!’ shouted Sara. ‘What about jobs for Zambians?’
‘Of course,’ declared the Constable, ‘this building of a new capital city will not only boost our economy, but will put new strains on the labour market. Therefore I have decided to reshuffle the Labour portfolio…’
‘Again!’ shouted Sara. ‘It was reshuffled only last week!’
‘I have been very disappointed with the work of Feckless Shamika. Within the past ten days I have twice appointed him to the Labour portfolio, but each time he has failed to reach his office…’
‘He has been reshuffled to so many portfolios in the past two weeks,’ said Sara, ‘and the poor fellow can’t walk very fast because he’s very old and confused. No sooner had he shuffled off in the direction of one office than somebody told him that he had been reshuffled, and he would then have to shuffle off in the direction of another office. He never managed to reach any of them.’
‘… Therefore,' said the Constable, 'I am now appointing the former Chinese Ambassador, Comrade Wok Fo Less, as the new Minister of Labour. I have the greatest respect for the work of Comrade Wok, who served as my very able advisor during the very public nervous breakdown of a former Minister of Labour, Mr Chipembele Kamwilimwili.
‘While I am away working at the New State House in Mpika, Comrade Wok Fo Less will be working at the Old State House to supervise the immigration of all the Chinese bricklayers and labourers and their relatives who …’
‘Comrade Wok Fo Less is in charge at State House!’ shouted Sara angrily. ‘What sort of decentralization is this?’
‘Chinese decentralization,’ I replied. ‘A very successful policy. We have just been made a province of China.’
[Kalaki's thanks go to his friends who contributed to the Facebook discussion on reshuffles, and especially to those whose ideas he pinched]