Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Michael's Master Plan

Michael’s Master Plan

            ‘Sometimes,’ I sighed, ‘I think Michael doesn’t know what he’s doing. How can he be sacking the nurses for asking for more money? Isn’t he the very one who promised them more money in their pockets?’
          ‘Of course he knows what he’s doing,’ laughed Kupela. ‘He’s trying to force them all to go and get jobs in Britain, where they’ll be paid four times as much. Then they’ll be able to send money to their relatives here, and we’ll all have more money in our pockets.’
          ‘Don’t be silly,’ I said. ‘If all our nurses go to the UK, who’s going to run our hospitals? Our entire health system will collapse! You’ve got to see the bigger picture!’
          ‘Poor Daddy,’ Kupela scoffed, ‘it’s you who can’t see the bigger picture. Nowadays you’ve got to think globally. Have you considered that that a nurse earning $200 dollars in Beijing thinks that $800 dollars in Lusaka is a small fortune? So we can easily attract Chinese nurses to come here!’
          ‘Hah!’ I exclaimed. ‘What a silly argument! In that case the Chinese nurses would also go to London to earn an even larger fortune!’
          ‘Oh no they wouldn’t,’ said Kupela, ‘because London hospitals practice Western medicine and don’t recruit Chinese nurses.’
          ‘Well done!’ I laughed. ‘You’ve just destroyed your own argument because our Zambian hospitals also practice Western medicine.’
          ‘On no they don’t,’ retorted Kupela. ‘They’re not practicing anything at all because they don’t have any medicine or equipment. The wards are just waiting rooms for the mortuary. This country just hasn’t got the money to provide health care or education. Poor old Chikwanda is borrowing a billion dollars a year to run schools that make us dull and hospitals that make us sick. And what’s more, the country will soon be completely bankrupt!’
          ‘So the answer is to sack all the nurses?’
          ‘It’s all part of Michael’s new Master Plan. He’s bringing in 20,000 nurses from China.’
          ‘What? We’ll all be going to Chinese hospitals?’
          ‘Of course not, these hospitals will be for the Chinese.’
          ‘What! There won’t be enough Chinese patients for so many hospitals, unless they’re all planning to be sick!’
          ‘Michael knows what he’s doing. He’s going to bring in another million Chinese to take over the rest of the mines, set up manufacturing plants, turn the forests into plantations, and so on.’
          ‘Half a minute! Hold on! If the Chinese take over all our hospitals, where is the health service for the rest of us?’
          ‘We shall return to traditional medicine, which worked very well in pre-colonial days. In those days people were very healthy and lived to a ripe old age. Did you know that our very high rate of maternal mortality is caused by modern maternity hospitals? Traditional birth attendants are much safer.’
          ‘This is all romantic poppy-cock,’ I spluttered. ‘What are traditional healers going to do about cholera, typhoid, TB and HIV? Huh! Answer me that!’
          ‘These are all urban diseases,’ she replied calmly. ‘We’ll all return to village life. Back to the land! Anyway, we never really mastered city life. Never became properly urbanized. Lusaka is not a city, it is just a collection of villagers in a huge village. That’s why it is so chaotic and full of urban diseases!’
          ‘So our cities will be abandoned? Left standing empty?’
          ‘Of course not! The Chinese will come in to run the factories, smelt the iron, sort out the traffic lights, and that sort of thing.’
          ‘So what shall we be doing in the village?’
          ‘We shall be on display for the Chinese tourists. Cultural tourism is becoming very popular and we can rake in a lot of money. That’s why Michael is building all these roads everywhere, so that the Chinese can visit the villages. The Chinese are very interested to see what Africa looked like before the missionaries came and ruined everything.’
          ‘So what sort of government shall we have?’
          ‘Exactly, that’s the question. Why d’you think Michael grabbed the draft constitution from the Technical Committee? He intends to write one which fits into his Master Plan!’
          ‘So how will it be different?’
          ‘Difficult to say,’ said Kupela. ‘Much of central government will undoubtedly have to be abolished, since government will have to be localized under the chiefs. We wouldn’t need a judiciary, the chief would preside over each local court. Maybe there would still be a DC.’
          ‘A District Commissioner?’
          ‘No, a District Chinese, to make sure that the villagers treat the Chinese tourists with proper respect.’
          ‘So would we still have a parliament?’
          ‘Obviously not,’ said Kupela. ‘We would just follow tradition and customary law.’
          ‘But who would govern the Chinese?’
          ‘They’re already well organized and never take any notice of us. They would probably want to co-ordinate their activities with other Chinese operating in neighbouring countries. It is rumoured that they might set up a Chinese Federal Government based in Harare.’
          ‘So would we still have a president and ministers?’
          ‘Of course,’ said Kupela.
          ‘But what would they be doing?’
          ‘Obviously they would have to collect taxes so that they can continue to live in ministerial houses, travel to international conferences and that sort of thing.’
          ‘It looks to me as if we wouldn’t need a government at all!’
          ‘Oh yes we would!’
          ‘Why?’ I persisted.
          ‘Because,’ said Kupela, ‘We’re an independent country!’

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