Day: November 16, 2014

Parliament seeks scapegoats

Parliament is running an advertisement in some of the papers. This venereal institution is not, as one might think, looking for a Speaker capable of keeping order without calling in an air strike. A Speaker who speaks rather than shrieks.

Instead, this is a “Call for Submissions”. Being two sheets to the wind, I read it as a call for submissives, which was funny because, with a few violently quelled or easily bought-off exceptions, we already are a nation of submissives. We are more submissive than even Shrien Dewani, although I suspect the German Master is a lot more assertive than Jacob Zuma.

The advert goes on: “Parliament invites you to …” I got so excited that I knocked my beer into my lap. Invites me to what? Dinner? A fancy dress party? An execution?

Sadly, no. Instead, parliament was inviting me to “comment on finding solutions to address vandalism and theft of water infrastructure in South Africa”. Talk about raising and dashing ones hopes in a single poorly worded sentence.

We are not even being invited to find solutions. Merely to comment on finding solutions. And what is this about finding solutions to address vandalism? Why not cut to the chase and simply find solutions to vandalism?

The gibberish continues. “To broaden the insights and solutions to the increased and new challenges to the water sector, the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation will hold public hearings with affected and interested stakeholders …” And so on and so forth.

We are nothing if not stakeholders. And this is what we are being asked to address:

* “Whether and why South Africa needs a water plan that takes into account aging energy and water infrastructure.” Hmm. A tough one. Probably best answered by some kind of professor. If one isn’t available, a fifth grader will do.

* “The financial and economic model required to create synergies between institutions responsible for energy and those responsible for water.” Parliament, let me remind you that this is being put to people who are reading the Sunday paper in various states of physical and mental disarray. Don’t talk to us about creating synergies when we can barely find our way to the kitchen.

* “Solutions to address vandalism and theft of water infrastructure in South Africa.” Many of us have the actual physical addresses of vandals and thieves, but I don’t suppose that’s what the Portfolio Committee is looking for. Solutions, you say? Let’s see. Once could, as outrageous as it sounds, encourage the police to form a specialised unit dedicated to apprehending deviants with a penchant for fiddling with water infrastructure. Sick people with a thing for taps and pipes. For all we know, there may even be a cabal of dangerously unstable mavericks who interfere with dam walls.

There is a chance, I suppose, that this advertisement is a devilishly cunning exercise in buck-passing. Ask us, the common herd, for submissions, then make the appeal so arbitrary and unreasonable that by the time the deadline comes along, we haven’t got it together to submit anything because we’re still holding our heads and scratching our crotches and wondering what it all means.

“We asked the public for their input,” the Portfolio Committee will say, “and they came up with nothing. They deserve to have no water or sanitation.” And they might be right. They have found a way to get us to scapegoat ourselves.

I should draw your attention to a paragraph that says the committee “retains the right to …” I needn’t go on. But if I were you, I wouldn’t bother sitting next to the phone waiting for an invitation to head down to parliament to share your brilliant ideas in person.

Apart from anything else, this kind of artful advertising is like a doctor putting a notice in the morning paper saying, “I have truckloads of patients with a purple rash. Please send ideas for treatment.”

The ANC’s Freedom Charter says the people shall share in the country’s wealth. It says nothing about us sharing the guilt caused by the ANC’s inability to govern the country properly.

The notion of a shared culpability cannot and must not be used by those who would absolve themselves of responsibility. This sounds like something Thomas Jefferson might have said. But it’s not. I said it. And here I must give partial credit to the bottle of Glen Grant single malt that the Whisky Fairy left at the very back of what I always thought was an empty cupboard in the kitchen.

So, anyway. My message to the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation – and all portfolio committees – is this. We, the people, are happy to help out if the request is genuine. But do remember that some of us are busy with other things. Like trying to stay alive. If there’s a problem, make an effort to sort it out yourselves. It’s why you pay yourselves so much of our money.

The night Bobby dropped in on Osama

An open letter to Robert O’Neill, the American soldier who killed Osama bin Laden


Hey Bobby!

When I saw a headline this week saying, “The Seal who killed Osama”, my first thought was that the true story had finally been told.

Osama had been captured alive and then, on the way back to the States on board the USS Carl Vinson, the rum came out, Osama started cheating in a game of deck quoits and someone threw him overboard as a joke, upon which an elephant seal bit him in half.

You, my friend, are no elephant seal. You are a Navy Seal. Well done.

I am delighted that you have finally admitted to being the one who killed Osama. For some time, a lot of people believed I had done it. Sure, I claimed the credit initially, but who didn’t? I’m glad the pressure is off me and on you.

Pressure, I am sure, is nothing new to you. Jumping out of a chopper in the middle of the night into Osama’s back yard isn’t for the faint-hearted. Especially when the idiot flying the back-up chopper lands it upside down.

I loved Zero Dark Thirty, the movie of the murder. I don’t know how you did it. It couldn’t have been easy to run up three flights of stairs dressed like a cross between an astronaut and Iron Man, and then still manage to put three bullets into Osama’s forehead. I would have had to sit down on the top step and catch my breath.

You were also portrayed in the movie Captain Phillips where you apparently killed Tom Hanks after he took a boatload of Somali fishermen hostage. Nice work. That smarmy bastard had it coming for years. You da captain now.

No, you’re not. You’re a senior chief petty officer. I don’t mean to sound disparaging, but anyone who shot Osama bin Laden shouldn’t be called a petty anything. No wonder you resigned.

I also think it’s shocking that you haven’t been awarded the Purple Heart simply because you were never in action where a colleague was killed or injured. Why the hell didn’t you just shoot one of your buddies in the leg when nobody was looking? You were in Iraq and Afghanistan, for heaven’s sake. You could’ve blamed it on any passing Arab.


I don’t blame you for wanting some of the limelight. The way Hillary Clinton carried on after the mission, you’d swear she was the one in Abbottabad that night. Flown in, no less, on a chopper piloted by Barack Obama.

So you grew up in Butte, Montana? I knew someone from Butte once. I used to call him Buttehead. Did anyone ever call you that? If they did, I bet their body was never found.

I see your daddy still lives there in a house stuffed with all the animals you guys have shot, including a bear. I bet you blew his head off and had it replaced with a hippo’s head. I imagine that’s the kinda thing a couple of fun-lovin’ good ol’ boys like you and yer paw would do.

I guess it makes sense that you’d outgrow animals and want to start killing people. Who wouldn’t? A dumb ol’ grizzly looks great standing in the corner of the lounge, but he ain’t that smart, right? A human, on the other hand, can think on his feet and sometimes even fight back. Makes killing so much more of a sport.

On the other hand, boet, you did sign up to become a sniper. I’m not judging you here, but aren’t those the people who sit in a tree and do their killing from a couple of clicks away? Can’t get safer than that. Unless you fall out of the tree.

It’s real dumb of me to make fun of snipers. For all I know, you’ve got sights and a gun powerful enough for you to climb up on your daddy’s roof and put a bullet through my head as I sit here at my desk in … I’m not telling you where I am.

It’s shocking that your comrades dispute your version of events. Some dude, probably from Seal Team Five, said you shot Osama once in the head, not three times, and that your mates then added the finishing touches with shots to the chest, stomach, arms, hands, legs and feet. What a bunch of credit junkies. You killed him, fair and square. If anyone tries to argue, kill them, too.

So now you have all this attention on you, aren’t you afraid? I’m sure those whackjobs from Isis wouldn’t mind a quiet chat with you. Also, the US Navy isn’t exactly happy with you for blabbing about your exploits. Your former unit apparently has a strict code of silence. Who’d have thought the Seals and the Mafia would have something in common?

Your daddy nailed it when he said, “I’ll paint a big target on my front door and say ‘Come and get us’.” That’s the spirit that made America great. Okay, it didn’t work so well with the World Trade Centre, but still.

I believe you’re making a living as a motivational speaker? Good for you. Better than working at Walmart, right? You get to sow a bunch of damn wild seeds in some pretty young minds. Tell them the important thing is to always wear camouflage. Take no prisoners. If you’re alone, use a drone. If you’re afraid, invade. If you’re in doubt, scream and shout.

Hang tight, comrade. In two years’ time, America will once again be ruled by the righteous. With the Republicans back in the White House, you’ll get what you deserve.



Psst! Wanna book?

BEN TROVATO – Durban Poison

Not many people know that I have written twelve books. I imagine even fewer care. Be that as it may. The fact remains that I have, without even really trying, built up what writers and publishers refer to as a ‘backlist’ and what writers’ wives call ‘those bloody boxes at the back of the garage’.

Some of you might even own one or two of my books. Now you have no excuse not to own all of them.

I am doing this is a public service and not because I have been told to clean out the garage.

Books will not be sent via the Post Office, unless you specifically want them in time for Christmas 2015.

Here, then, are the Dirty Dozen listed in order of their year of release. Point and click.

Thank you.

Ben Trovato

Ben Trovato Files


Stirred not Shaken

Guide to Everything


Art of Survival

Hits and Missives

On the Run

Still on the run-2

Whipping Boy 2


Hearts and mines

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