Tag: David Mahlobo

An open letter to the Minister of State Security

Dear Honourable Comrade Mahlobo,

I have been meaning to write to you for some time to congratulate you on your meteoric rise from humble ANC deployee in the department of fisheries to the exalted glory of the cabinet in just a few short years.

Truth is, though, I’ve always been a little afraid. One doesn’t simply write to the minister of state security as one would to, say, the minister of sport. You have proper powers. Other ministers only get to follow people on Twitter. You get to have them followed in real life.

I can’t say I envy you your job, though. It must be a nightmare trying to ensure the security of a state as berserk as South Africa. Keeping us all under surveillance can’t be easy. And yet it must be done. We can’t be trusted. Half of us would happily spy for the Russians in return for free cocktails and the other half would think nothing of plotting a coup if it meant skiving off work for a few days.

Hang on. It’s not the Russians you’re worried about at all. They’re still mates of ours, right? And it can’t be the Americans, either. Not with Donald Trump in the White House. I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that our much-loved president has taken note of Trump’s unorthodox approach to governing and has decided to emulate him. In other words, take no notice of mounting scandals, ignore calls to step down and blame foreigners, the judiciary and the media for everything. Also, never confirm or deny anything. As Jacob Zuma so eloquently put it in a message to his senior people, “The lesser you talk, the better.”

Comrade minister, who are these foreign intelligence agencies you say are working with “negative domestic forces” to undermine the state? Which country has so few problems of its own that it can afford to get involved in the affairs of another, particularly one with an economic growth rate of one percent and a second place ranking on the global Misery Index? Could it be Zimbabwe? We should just buy them out. Make Mad Dog Mugabe an offer he can’t recognise.

I know who the “negative domestic forces” are and I am prepared to identify them for a modest fee. It doesn’t have to be cash. I’m happy to stick with the dop system. Should we say one name, one case of beer? I’m open to negotiating group discounts. A family for a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt, for instance.

No, I didn’t think you’d fall for it. You know as well as I do who the negative domestic forces are. They’re everywhere. And yet nowhere. Sorry. I didn’t meant to make you paranoid. Like you, I am a huge fan of conspiracy theories. Unlike you, though, I don’t get paid to disseminate them. I don’t mind. Walking into crowded places wearing a hat made of tinfoil and whispering to strangers, “We know where you live” is reward enough for me.

The other day you scornfully referred to people who “run to court on political matters to undermine decisions taken by the government”. I sympathise with you. This is not my idea of a democracy, either. The solution is simple. Get rid of the courts or get rid of the people. I apologise. You’re the boss. You obviously know what the solution is. The courts can be stacked with judges quick to show their appreciation for what the ANC is doing, but it gets trickier when it comes to the people. Luckily, South Africans, and not just the police, are easily bought off. All 50 million of us must be put on the payroll as soon as possible. The finance minister will have to be drugged.

I commend you on your ability to learn from history. In 1985, then state president PW Botha said in parliament, “The tragedy is that hostile pressure and agitation from abroad have acted as an encouragement to militant revolutionaries in South Africa.” Your words might be different, but the sentiment is the same. I like to think that Botha is looking up at you from hell, nodding approvingly and twisting those squabby lips into a grotesque approximation of a smile.

If social media had been around in PW’s time, I have no doubt that his boys from Boss would have pulled the plug in no time at all. As you so succinctly put it a week ago, “We are contemplating to regulate the space. Even the best democracies that are revered, they regulate the space.” Are you talking about democracies like China and North Korea? Of course you are. When it comes to putting up roadblocks on the information superhighway, they are hard to beat. For example, thanks to Beijing’s grip on things, we can safely discount Western propaganda about events in Tiananmen Square, where two protesters were slightly injured in a minor scuffle with a policeman. Barely worth reporting on. And Pyongyang is such a paradise that the country had to close its borders to stop people trying to get in.

By “regulating” the internet – in concert with your sock puppets over at the Film and Publications Board – you will also be able to prevent information on covert operations from leaking out. You were obviously in deep cover on a top secret mission when visiting the Jinxu-Chinese Massage establishment in Nelspruit. You said you were there to get your nails done, which is exactly what I would have said had I come home looking deeply relaxed and smelling faintly of exotic Oriental unguents.

Thanks to that nest of neo-liberal vipers over at al-Jazeera, there was no happy ending for you. Not this time. They caught your parlour owner friend and suspected rhino horn merchant, Guan Jiang Guang, on camera saying things like, “(Mahlobo) came to my massage parlour every week or at least twice a month. I know him very well.” Upon broadcast of the documentary, Guang disappeared faster than a bottle of poppers in a gay club. What a shame. Another few months of manicures, pedicures and facials and you would have had him. Bloody media. Damn their selfish eyes.

Guang also said he did business with your wife. How were you to know? It’s impossible to keep track of a wife these days. They have their own cellphones and cars, for a start. Remember your predecessor Siyabonga Cwele? He was surprised to learn that his wife Sheryl had been running cocaine with the Nigerians in her spare time. She’s still in prison, which doesn’t seem fair because cocaine is way more yummy than rhino horn. Or so I’ve heard. Comrade Siyabonga was subsequently punished by our president for being the minister of state security and not knowing his wife was a drug trafficker. He is still serving penance as minister of telecommunications and postal services, both of which are listing sharply to starboard.

By the way, did you ever find the R17-million that was stolen from your offices just over two years ago? Probably not. We would have heard about it by now. No matter. These days, anything under R20-million is considered petty cash and if it goes missing someone might get around to asking the cleaner if she’s seen it, but otherwise it’s no biggie, really.

I was wondering about something. Do you and the minister of police ever get together at, say, the Saxonwold shebeen and compare notes? I only ask because there seems to be a tremendous amount of organised and disorganised crime happening without either of you knowing about it. Sure, most of it happens inside the government, but still.

Hey, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but did you hear about the R200-million heist at OR Tambo International? It’s been in all the papers. I first heard about it on social media. Isn’t it awful? A crackdown is urgently needed. Once the internet and independent press have been shut down, nobody but the bandits and their victims will know about the terrible things that are going on. In effect, crime simply wouldn’t exist. Imagine a deaf, blind one-handed man clapping in a forest while a tree fell. He’d make a pathetic witness. What? Good heavens, this stuff is strong. Where was I?

Oh, yes. My point is that bona fide intelligence is hard to come by in South Africa these days, so there’s no need to feel bad if you don’t know what’s happening. None of us do, either. Have you ever considered using informants? These are people who live in the community and tip you off about crime. Hire me. I’ll tell you anything if the price is right.

Your priority now, though, is to control the internet. Please hurry. I am addicted to Twitter and Facebook. My intellect and concentration span are rapidly approximating those of a pigeon. With your help, we can all be liberated from this heinous electronic prison.

I, for one, long for a return to the days when men would sit around the fire sharpening sticks and telling tales of bravery while the women gave birth and foraged for berries.

If all else fails, follow Donald Trump’s lead. Nothing can go wrong.

mahlobo

Makes you wanna nuke

I went to Teazers once to get my nails done.

The Thai manicurist didn’t do a very good job even though I hired a private booth so she could work without the other manicurists distracting me. I left feeling quite frustrated. I doubt that State Security Minister David Mahlobo had the same experience when he visited the Jin Lu Massage and Beauty Salon in Nelspruit. The Chinese are experts when it comes to giving even the most faulty of nails a damn good seeing to.

A lot of very famous people make use of manicurists. Charlie Sheen, for instance, has the best nails in Hollywood. He stopped going, though, after picking up a nasty infection from a dodgy nail file.

Turns out that the owner of the establishment, Comrade Guan Jiang Guang, dabbles in a bit of the old rhino horn trade when business is slow. Who could’ve guessed? Not Mahlobo, obviously. He’s only responsible for providing the government with intelligence on organised crime. Perhaps he didn’t think Comrade Guan was all that organised, what with the odd stray horn being swept up with the end of the day’s toenail clippings.

In other news from the department of pork pies, the government is forging ahead with efforts to make good on the bribes paid by Russia to build our nuclear power stations. Okay, fine. Alleged bribes. This week the department of energy briefed parliament’s energy portfolio committee on matters nuclear. In keeping with the government’s commitment to transparency, the media and members of the public were barred.

Committee chair Fikile Majola said the meeting to discuss forensic reports into the R14.5bn “impairment” suffered by PetroSA on its investment in the Ikhwezi offshore drilling project would also be held behind closed doors.

“What? You’ve lost all our money gambling at the casino?”

“Relax, darling. I didn’t lose it. I suffered an impairment.”

The nuclear build plan is a one, possibly two, trillion rand project and the deal is none of our business. Rightly so. We’re not qualified to have an opinion. The World Bank says ten million South Africans struggle to meet their monthly debt repayments. We’re complete idiots. No wonder they can’t trust us to behave like adults when it comes to finance.

“Sir, this money has been allocated to the nuclear power programme.”

“Ja but I just need a small las, my bru. Gooi a ten mil there. I’ll pay you back. I swear.”

You can’t expect people to understand about splitting the atom when they need help splitting the bar bill. You also can’t expect people to care about the cost of Project Nuke when their only reaction to the news that government irregularly spent R46-billion in one year is to roll their eyes and order another round. And, quite possibly, vote for the same sorry sack of weasels in the next election.

Like my hero Donald Trump, I’m a big fan of fossil fuels. Fossils burn better than anything. Just one vertebra from the spine of a brontosaurus will keep your braai going for a month. And if you chuck a couple of them trilobites and chillibites and whatnot into the Jetmaster, you’re sorted for winter. What’s not to love?

I’m an even bigger fan of nuclear power. You know where you stand with this stuff. Don’t talk to me about renewable energy. You can’t trust the sun, much less the wind. The sun will give you skin cancer while the wind will blow your cap off and you’ll chase it into the road and get hit by a taxi.

Like politics, uranium mining is a filthy business, especially if it gets down your shoes or under your nails. You’d then have to go to the Jin Lu Beauty Salon and run the risk of being seen as a metrosexual fabulist with an unhealthy interest in the keratin-rich pointy bit on the snouts of certain odd-toed ungulates.

The production of a thousand tons of uranium fuel generates a hundred thousand tons of radioactive tailings and four million litres of liquid waste containing head-banging heavy metals and yummy arsenic. But it’s okay because you only have to store the waste for a quarter of a million years before it’s safe enough to let the children play in it.

The best thing about having a nuclear programme is that we can help out our other buddies in Central Asia. Vladimir can do the power stations while the Stans ( Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) can handle the armaments side of things.

It would be silly to have nuclear power stations and not nuclear weapons. Our North Korean friends would laugh at us. Besides, when President Trump phones in the codes, we don’t want to be standing around like Swaziland with our hands down our broeks not bombing anyone because we don’t have any nukes.

I’m not suggesting we make anything on the scale of Fat Man and Little Boy, here. I’m thinking more along the lines of pocket nukes compact enough to be fired by unskilled labourers using rudimentary catapults. The Speaker of parliament could use them to shut the DA up. We could even make baby bombs for personalised use. Take Julius Malema, for instance. Slip a tiny one down his trousers and he won’t be so quick to call for the slaughter of us white devils, I can tell you.

We’ve taken a few shaky steps down Fission Road already. Remember the government’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project? Of course you don’t. You barely remember where you were last night. The PBMR frolic, which came to a shuddering halt six years ago, was the equivalent of pouring petrol over R10-billion and putting a match to it. Eight hundred employees were retrenched and the company’s assets mothballed. I hope it worked because moths enjoy nothing more than nibbling on a little uranium hexafluoride before mating. Then again, the project was located in Centurion and if there is one city that could do with an invasion of giant mutant moths capable of sucking up entire buildings through their enormous hairy probosci, Pretoria is it.

That doomed venture could have paid for two billion bottles of Windhoek Lager. That’s a six-pack for every man, woman and child in the country. So listen up. The next time this pitiful excuse for a government loses its mind and tries to set fire to your money, do something about it. Wipe the drool from your chin, get out of your comfy chair and bloody well do something.

Finally, here’s a short guide that might come in handy should the government go ahead with this berserk project that has more to do with meeting the financial needs of the alpha wolf and his ravening pack than it does the country’s energy needs.

At some point, there is likely to be a nuclear disaster. Don’t worry that you might mistake it for a car backfiring in the street. It will be louder than that. Once you have heard the blast, resist the urge to rush outside and see what happened. You need to wait for the radiation to blow away.

Refrain from sexual activity. This is not a good time for a woman to conceive. Unless, of course, you can afford to have another three mouths to feed. And you don’t mind if they’re all on the same baby.

If a reactor near you blows up before you can reach an underground shelter, put on a floppy hat and a pair of decent sunglasses. The flash is very bright and could damage your eyesight. The flash is also very hot and could leave you with a nasty burn if you’re not careful. If this happens, smear a little butter on it right away.

The detonation of a 300-kiloton nuclear device releases 300 trillion calories within a millionth of a second. If you are in the habit of watching calories, you will need to have your wits about you. Get behind a wall or down on the floor and make yourself as small as possible. You really can’t afford to pile on more calories.

The energy of the blast will also create a giant fireball. This won’t be so bad if it happens in Cape Town in winter, but if you live in Durban and it’s mid-summer, the additional heat will be unbearable and you’ll probably want to call in sick.

Waves of thermal energy will ignite fires across the city. If you are having trouble lighting a braai, you will welcome the extra help. Very hot high-speed gales will also spring up, so you might have to postpone the kite surfing.

If you have any old furniture you’ve been meaning to strip down, leave it in the garden. The blast wave will do the job nicely.

Once the blast wave has passed, have a shower to wash off any lingering radiation and put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea. But be quick because the rising fireball will create a suction effect and a lot of stuff will start heading back towards ground zero. If you see cars, trees, animals and so on flying past your window, hold on to something until the winds die down.

There will be a lot of dust and other debris in the air, so if you suffer from hay fever you might want to take an antihistamine. The streets will be quite warm from all that hot air passing over them and it’s best to put on a sturdy pair of shoes before venturing out. Things will look a little different and it’s important that you remain positive. Take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the quiet.

Relief efforts will soon be underway. Unless, of course, everyone is dead.

South Beach Durban. Photograph Graeme Williams
South Beach
Durban. Photograph Graeme Williams