Tag: President Jacob Zuma

Pravin moves on after quickie divorce

It is in the nature of my job to be a cynic and a sceptic. I take nothing at face value and always believe the worst. Give someone the benefit of the doubt? Please. That’s about as likely as seeing me in church on a Sunday.

However, I am deeply embarrassed to admit that I failed this week in my capacity as a professional doubter and detractor. When I woke to the news that three of the ANC’s top six, the party’s integrity commission, ANC veterans, Cosatu, the Communist Party, churches and civil society groups were united in their call for President Jacob Zuma to stand down, I felt a twinge of hope. I was not so far gone as to be countenancing faith, but that tiny twinge grew stronger overnight as it fed off my dreams of a better future for all. By the time the ANC National Working Committee had ended its crisis meeting, I was telling anyone who would listen that this might well be it. That Zuma had finally played his last card and the entire disgraceful edifice he’d constructed around himself would come crashing down and Wednesday would see the country’s streets and bars filled with people half mad with joy.

Then came the historic press conference that I thought would put South Africa on the road to recovery. Secretary general Gwede Mantashe, looking increasingly like a well-used stress ball, was slumped in his chair, his wounds freshly licked and still raw. As he started speaking, the swelling balloon of hope in my heart began deflating like a plastic soccer ball headed by Jesus wearing his crown of thorns.

Confirming that he and his two fellow invertebrates, deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, are in an abusive relationship with the president, Mantashe said, “We must find it adult enough to close the door, beat each other up, if you find me with a blue eye, I must develop a narrative that I bumped a pole rather than going public with disagreements.” In other words, it is always better to lie than tell the truth. I happen to agree with him on this.

He also said that the ANC “has reflected on the calls by the SACP and COSATU amongst others for President Jacob Zuma to resign from his position as the President of the Republic of South Africa.” I tried that once with one of my ex-wives when she cornered me over her alleged repeated requests that I unblock some or other inconsequential drain. Looking her square in the eye, I said, “I have reflected on your requests.” She seemed to expect more but eventually lost interest and wandered off.

So on Wednesday I coughed up my nugget of hope, now all shrivelled and manky, and went to the pub to rinse the bile from my throat. There, I met a man who claimed not to care about politics. Or even understand how our government works. He said he was just there to drink and asked me not to bother him. I put him in a half-nelson and polished off his beer while he begged for mercy.

“Get a grip,” I said. “You’re behaving worse than Ramaphosa.” He didn’t know what a Ramaphosa was, so I got him to buy me a drink and began explaining the entire sordid business from Marikana to McDonalds.

I also had to explain to this sad bag of rags that in the old days there were three branches of government – the executive, the legislative and the judicial – but today there are dozens of branches. These are known as ANC branches. I told him to imagine the executive as a shark and the ANC branches as suckerfish that cling to and feed off the parasites on the shark. Imagine, I said, that the parasites are Cosatu and the Communist Party. And maybe the ANC Youth League.

“Remoras,” he shouted, and fell off his stool. I kicked him gently in the head to bring him to his senses. Order Perciformes, family Echeneidae. They eat the host’s shit,” he said, giggling uncontrollably before appearing to die.

Even though with his final sentence he seemed to be grasping the metaphor admirably, I cannot abide ichthyologists who can’t hold their drink. I kicked him twice for good measure and left swiftly.

So. Comrade Greedy, I beg your pardon, Gwede, admitted that the dumbest “intelligence report” ever created by someone over the age of five was not, as initially stated by Zuma, the sole reason Pravin Gordhan was fired. Saving what little remains of the president’s face, the Working Committee came up with a reason more suited for adult consumption.

“The NWC has accepted the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between the President and a member of his Cabinet (Gordhan) as sufficient explanation for the decision taken by the President.”

Look, relationships take work. Not mine, obviously. At the first sign of trouble, I’m out of there. But these are grown-ups we’re talking about. If they’d just taken the time to consider each other’s needs, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Would it have hurt either of them to occasionally send flowers or call just to say I’m thinking about you? And why the quickie divorce? What happened to relationship counselling? It’s all too sad.

So to get back to what I was saying. My flirtation with hope flared and died before it could ripen into a full-blooded emotion. It was crushed like a handful of marijuana on the last day of Afrika Burn. I have now returned to my natural state of cynicism, scepticism and ostracism.

I have, in fact, gone one step beyond. Madness, you may say, but these are the times in which we live. The only way we can beat these swine is with a baseball bat but there are too many of them and not enough bats. So we join them. I have already drafted my letter to the head of the government’s human resources department.

Dear Mr Gupta,

Forgive me for not knowing if it’s Atul, Rajesh or Ajay in charge of human resources this week. You guys have your fingers in so many pies it’s hard to know what’s happening. Maybe that’s why you all look so healthy. Too much of pies. Just kidding. I am a big pie man, myself. Mutton curry, mainly. I’m talking proper Verulam mutton, here. Not that Umlazi goat mutton.

Thing is, I am having a problem because I can’t afford to keep myself in the manner to which I ought to be accustomed. As a white man I should be well off, but something terrible must have happened and now I am only well off my face. This is why I am hoping you can give my life a skommel. Put me somewhere with a nice salary and maybe one, two perks.

Don’t put me in the cabinet. I’ve just come out of the closet. That’s a gay joke. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Also, I’m not gay so it’s not really a joke. A cabinet position is like the kiss of death. It’s like being given a poisoned chalice except you don’t have to drink the poison and you get to sell the chalice over and over again. Or something.

I want to be low key but high flying, if you know what I mean. Of course you do. You invented that thing. Smart move. I call it the Dubai Shuffle. But you’re all still South Africans, right? Good for you. It’s the 97th best citizenship in the world to have. And yet we can’t help being morons.

Take that Mcebisi Jonas fellow. You give him free dops in your en-suite shebeen, offer him the position of finance minister and still throw in a R600-million bonsella but he shakes his head and walks away, later making all kinds of affidavits and whatnot about this generous offer that was obviously never made.

This won’t happen with me, uncle. I’m not bluffing you. When you do your next reshuffle, give me maybe director general in tourism and let’s say R50-million and you won’t hear from me unless I hear from you.

Your man in the struggle,

Benjamin “Buttons” Trovato

A letter to President Zuma

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Dear Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Owner of Property in Nkandla, Shuffler of Cabinets and Destroyer of Things, I hereby greet you.

First of all, allow me to congratulate you. It doesn’t matter on what. You can decide. The important thing is that a man of your intellect is congratulated on a regular basis.

Well done, though, on deposing the ringleaders responsible for attempting to boost our economy. The last straw came when that seditious anarchist posing as our finance minister flew off to sell South Africa to investors in Britain. Not even Pravin Gordhan has the right to sell South Africa, even though he’s a Durban ou and would have given them a good price and all.

The real purpose of his mission was obviously to buy heavy calibre calculators and recruit mercenary accountants for a rebel army. You know what these financial types are like. Beneath their dimpled, chubby exteriors lurk lean, mean killing machines. Or worse, adding machines. It’s a good thing you have moved fast on this. Without your intervention, the Union Buildings would be overrun by well-educated polyglots and we’d all be speaking algebra by Christmas.

I am among the millions of patriotic South Africans silently applauding your firing of Gordhan and other free-thinking radicals of his ilk. I say silently because most of us are either savagely hungover or too weak with disease and hunger to engage in the physical act of clapping. We need to conserve our energy so that when 2019 rolls around, we will be able to crawl to the nearest polling station and vote for the ANC. Many of us won’t have the strength to make it back home and will probably die right there in the ballot booth. This is a small price to pay for keeping in power the most glorious political party Africa and indeed the world has ever seen.

You’re a genius, boss. By turning your reshuffle into a bloodbath, nobody could accuse you of gunning specifically for the finance minister and his deputy. It’s a bit like the way Israel bombs an entire Palestinian suburb just to get one cheeky Hamas commander. Sure, your scattergun approach is a bit rough on the others, but there are casualties in any war and I’m sure they are all very grateful for even having had the opportunity to buttress their bank accounts … I mean, serve the people.

Brilliant move making Malusi Gigaba minister of finance. A man who knows his way around the Saxonwold shebeen, he might not be the brightest but he’s a snappy dresser and that’s all that really counts in this portfolio. Also, he speaks English like a proper Zulu and his “Christian” name is Knowledge. What more do you need? Best of all, his sexiness will deflect attention away from the man really running the ministry – his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi.

According to Who’s Who Southern Africa, Buthelezi  is or maybe was the chairman of Robben Island Ferries and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, both of which are considered not so much efficient modes of transport as they are unreliable death traps.

He’s done some other stuff, too. Banking. That sort of thing. As long as he keeps taking calls from our government in exile in Dubai, he’ll do just fine.

Good move, too, making Faith Muthambi minister of public service. With the unemployment rate higher than a Rastafarian on Haile Selassie’s birthday, the public no longer expect to be served and the comrade will therefore not be required to fill her usual quota of damage.

And nice work retaining social development minister Butterbelly Dlamini. It’s important to have someone in cabinet who consistently sets the bar at its lowest so that everyone else shines by comparison.

Your real masterstroke, though, was appointing Fikile Mbalula as Minister of Police. I, for one, look forward to stepping over the bodies of criminals who have died laughing.

What’s this I hear that three of your top six are unhappy? Have you run out of funds to guarantee their support? If Squirrel Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and Zweli Mkhize have turned rogue, you know what to do. No, not the elephant option. It’s too soon to start shooting dissidents. That comes in your seventh term as president.

You need to kick their arses to the curb and issue a decree that the top six shall henceforth be known as the top three. If you start getting bad vibes from Baleka Mbete and that other one with the face, kick their arses to the curb, too. Then it’s just you – the top one. Round up the judges, muzzle the media and Bob’s your uncle. Is Bob your uncle? He certainly behaves as if he has a strand or two of those magnificent Zuma genes.

Speaking of Squirrel, he briefly showed signs of developing a spine but then decided to stand by his man. Good for him. The best kind of loyalty is the dumb, unquestioning kind. Tell your ex-wife to be nice to him when she is in charge.

I don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss. The only people who stand to get hurt in all of this are the poor. You’d think they would be used to it by now. They can’t afford petrol, food or medicine whether the cabinet is reshuffled or not, so no real harm is done by getting rid of the clevas and deploying the fawners and flatterers who have been waiting so anxiously for their turn at the trough … I beg your pardon, their turn to serve the nation.

I like the way you use the delusively jejune phrases “radical economic transformation”. It appeals to your semi-literate power base as well as to white people, who know that nothing ever changes for them. Whatever delightfully reckless decisions you take, they get to keep the Range Rover, the tennis lessons and the beach house. If you really want to hurt them, take away their satellite dishes and shut down Woolworths.

I have a friend who said he preferred it when you were a cavorting, giggling, marrying kind of president. A good-natured, bumbling, harmless buffoon, as it were. He said he doesn’t like what he described as “the new vicious, lying, sociopath you”. He wanted to know where the fun you had gone. I called him a shallow imperialist dog and threatened to beat him soundly. He threatened to drink all my whiskey so we called it a draw.

So, what a week it’s been. I thought it a bit rude of Ahmed Kathrada to die on the very day that you were planning to fire Gordhan for gross competence. We didn’t know at the time, of course, that you were also planning a clean sweep of all the other embarrassingly capable members of your cabinet. You must have been terribly upset having to wait a few days before beginning the bludgeoning, particularly since you have come to rely on Indians to be there when you need them.

I believe the family foundation requested that you stay away from the funeral. They probably thought you’d be so overcome with grief that you’d cause a scene with your singing and dancing. Or did you and Uncle Kathy have a fall-out? I’m sure it was over something trivial. He probably insisted on the constitution being respected or was against the idea of state capture. Ridiculous. That’s the elderly for you.

By the way, nice work getting a few of those communists out of government. PW Botha would be proud of you. If any of the leftover bolsheviks like Blade Nzimande start causing trouble, send them to the gulags. Do we have gulags? We must at least have a salt mine somewhere. When apparatchiks go bad, they need to be severely punished. It’s the only language they understand.

And whatever happens, keep pushing that collective responsibility ruse. I think it slipped your mind a bit this week. If the rand falls and the economy nosedives, it’s only right that those who survived the cull get to share the consequences. And by consequences I obviously mean financial spin-offs.

Anyway, comrade leader. It’s time for my evening weep. As the sign on the back of the taxi says, “When days are dark and friends are few …” I don’t know how it ends. The taxi rolled before I could read the rest.

Data is the curse of the drinking class

If my column makes less sense than usual, you can blame MTN. I am currently without a landline, you see. It’s not that I haven’t tried to get one but everybody I talk to wants proof of address. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to prove anything without eyebrows being raised. These tedious muffin-eaters insist that a photo of me at my desk accompanied by a hand-drawn map is not the kind of proof of residence they’re looking for.

So I have spent the last few months accessing the internet via a hotspot on my phone. Don’t worry. This was also gibberish to me the first time I heard it. Data is a bit like beer. One minute you think you have loads and suddenly there’s nothing.

Until fairly recently, I wasn’t aware that you could buy data over the phone. I’d get a message in the early evening telling me that I had run out. During the day, no problem. I’d drive 10kms to the shops and buy more. But after hours? What the hell was I meant to do? I’d pace anxiously or

lie awake for hours twitching and sweating and clawing at my skin. I’d often be the first person at the mall, hanging around the entrance pale and trembling, unable to make eye contact with the car guards.

Then I discovered you could punch in a few numbers on your phone and buy data, just like that. I could lie in bed and within seconds be returned to that magical, diabolical realm where something could happen anywhere in the world and I’d instantly know about it. I don’t have a fear of missing out. I have a fear of not knowing. It’s unlikely to become a thing because Fomo is so much more of a catchy acronym than Fonk.

On Wednesday at 1.45pm I ran out of data. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was due to deliver his budget in parliament at 2pm. This is a man who is fighting a rearguard action on all fronts. Actually, his enemies don’t often come from the front. Being the craven curs they are, they’re far more likely to come slinking up from the back.

I needed to watch this speech. Anything could happen. It was probably Gordhan’s last stand. This was a major public test of loyalties and if I missed it, I’d regret it forever. Also, I’d have nothing to write about.

Then, at 1.47pm, I had a moment of great clarity. “Fuck that!” I shouted, scaring a couple of idiot doves who had wandered into my lounge looking for food. I don’t know why they think they’ll find birdseed scattered all over my floor.

“I’m not giving those MTN robber barons R260 for two miserable gigabytes so that I can watch the budget speech.” The doves blinked at me. Then the bigger one tried to climb onto the smaller one’s back. If ever there was a sign that I should go to the nearest bar and use their free wifi, this was it.

And that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. MTN is forcing me, and who knows how many other decent God-fearing citizens, into daytime drinking in bars with free wifi.

Thanks to MTN, I am a fairly familiar figure in this particular bar. They know what I want. This is more than I can say for myself. On Wednesday there was a newbie behind the bar. A puce-faced callow youth who did a rubbish job of not showing signs of panic at the sight of a red-eyed unshaven possibly homeless man setting up what appeared to be a crude office in the corner. I despised him for not instinctively knowing what to bring me. Do I have to spell it out? Beer, I snarled, lashing a pair of cheap headphones to what little remains of my head.

I was just in time for Pravin to take the podium. He got a standing ovation, even from members of his own party. This was a good start. I quickly worked out a system of drinking, taking notes, eyeballing the talent and flicking back and forth between the speech, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and Pornhub in case something happened that I needed to know about.

Look, the finance minister’s delivery is positively electrifying compared to Jacob Zuma’s, but put him in Nuremberg in 1938 and I dare say people at the back would start drifting off, even if it meant risking a bullet from one of the marshals.

I made it thirty minutes in before suffering my first neurological collapse. Fortunately it was gradual and the glass never shattered against my forehead. It seemed to affect my already frosty relations with the moron bartender, though, and he stopped asking if I wanted another after that. I wasn’t about to ask him for one, either. I have my pride.

Anyway. The entire speech was not only available online the moment Gordhan started talking, but a menagerie of civic-minded journalists were live-tweeting the entire affair. I’d hear him say something and seconds later 15 reporters would repeat it with varying degrees of accuracy. There was no point in me being there. I downloaded the speech, bought nine cases of beer and went back to my shack for some serious political analysis.

When I regained consciousness the speech was long over. That’s the nice thing about Cape Town in summer. You can take spontaneous naps and when you wake up it’s still light at 7.30pm and you don’t feel you’ve wasted the entire day.

I saw clips of the end of the speech. It seemed to go down well. Another standing ovation. Apart from a handful of ministers who pointedly drew the nation’s attention to their undying commitment to the Gupta family by being the only people who didn’t stand up and applaud. To be fair, our top-heavy social services minister Bathabile Dlamini was possibly unable to get to her feet by that stage, although she did show signs of life when Gordhan announced an increase in alcohol tax.

I don’t know what people are complaining about. If another 12c for a can of beer is going to devastate your family, perhaps you shouldn’t be drinking.

Gordhan told us that 10% of the population owns 90% of the wealth. Why give us this information and then withhold their names and addresses? How are we meant to send them begging letters or even petrol bomb their homes? Don’t taunt us, Gordhan.

The speech is littered with references to millions, billions and even a few trillions being allocated to this, that and the other thing. Lest we forget, R46-billion was stolen or squandered by civil servants in the last fiscal year. That’s enough to fill every swimming pool in the country with single malt whiskey. At the next budget speech, I expect to see thousands of white collar criminals paraded outside parliament in leg irons so that we may hurl abuse and other things at their loathsome heads. If there’s one thing this country needs, it’s catharsis.

Meanwhile, there’s good news for the country’s 17 million spongers – I beg your pardon, social welfare beneficiaries. Child support has rocketed to R380, which is more than enough if your child doesn’t eat and prefers walking around naked. Pensioners will be getting a whopping R1 600 a month so no more clogging up the aisles listlessly checking prices on every item. You’re getting in the way of the really poor – the shoplifters. You’re rich now. Load up your trolleys and get out. Also, drive faster.

My best bit was when Gordhan announced a 45% tax rate for people earning more than R1.5m a year and then, to a deathly quiet house, urged people to clap. The sound of the country’s top wage earners looking for their passports was louder than the applause.

But it wasn’t the only reverse-Machiavellian backflip with half-twist that he deployed, either. Breaking into a poorly rendered indigenous language followed by the English translation, he managed to look at Jacob Zuma without actually looking at him and said, “If lions work as a team they will bring down even a buffalo.”

Deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa wasn’t sure how to react. On the one hand, he is really fond of buffaloes. On the other, he really wants to be president. Tough call. He settled for his inscrutable comrade capitalist smile.

Real feminists stand by their men

Dear ANC Women’s League,

I apologise for addressing you as a league and not as an individual. Women are so much more than mere leagues these days. My non-sexist sensibilities are telling me – well, shrieking at me, really – that it would be highly inappropriate to continue referring to you as some sort of collective rather than a warm flesh and hot-blooded woman with big … I beg your pardon. That’s the medication talking.

My point is that I cannot find a name by which to address you. My limited capacity for research unearthed Lilian Ngoyi, although she appears to be more of a fisheries patrol vessel than a leader of sorts, so I shall call you Mary after one of my heroes. I’m not talking about the Mary who had a little lamb, although that was certainly a biological feat of note, but rather Queen Mary I of England. She got the nickname Bloody Mary after waging a brutal campaign against prostitutes. It’s my favourite morning-after drink. They might have been Protestants.

Anyway. Enough of that. I am writing to congratulate you for so resolutely standing by your man, Jacob Zuma. I have known women, biblically and otherwise, who do not seem to understand this concept at all. When the legendary women’s rights activist Tammy Wynette released her seminal protest anthem, Stand By Your Man, in 1968 in support of real men like Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski, we applauded her. We sang along and danced and fought like lions, then went home to our wives and god help them if dinner wasn’t ready. Just kidding. Not really.

I see you have been very busy issuing statements. Well done, Mary. I like a woman who can make a statement. In the old days, women were only good for making fashion statements. Sometimes they made fashion faux pas, but we forgave them. Or not. I have a friend who said your statements are a faux pas. Ignore him. He is one of those men who think women should automatically defend truth and justice. This should be rejected for the sexist filth it is. Women are nothing more than men without willies and they are entitled to act accordingly without being judged as traitors to their gender. Or, for that matter, their country.

A long queue is developing for the moral high ground and, much like you, I cannot abide queues. Especially when they come stacked with shiny eyed opportunists pretending they’re not desperate to suck on the hind tit of … whoops. Sorry about that. I was talking fiscal rather than physical. Let’s just move on.

You say you are critical of the Public Protector but respect her office? I know what you mean. I have worked for unimaginable arseholes over the years, but I have always been humbled by their offices. The counterfeit oil paintings, the crystal dolphins, the coke chopping boards made of Burmese teak. And while I was quite prepared to cut their throats during the tea break, you showed admirable restraint by demanding “a more objective and less populist person who will campaign against government and its people but defend principles of the structures”. Would those be ANC structures? Viva objectivity.

Quite frankly, the structures seem a bit wobbly right now, Mary. What the hell is wrong with the Gauteng branch that they want Mr Big to resign on the spurious grounds that he gives the appearance of being a semi-literate, corrupt scumbag dragging South Africa to the brink of disaster? Are they on drugs? I heard the Nigerians were bringing in some kind of truth serum. If that’s true, then Paul Mashatile seems to have made an early start.

Can you believe that the Public Protector said you should rather focus on fighting for gender equality and inclusive development? What the hell does that even mean? She also said “women should be fighting to make sure that South Africa was advancing everyone, because when the state fails, it’s women who pick up the burden”. This is a pack of lies and she ought to be jailed at once. I have had two wives and several girlfriends and the only thing any of them ever picked up was a knife or a bottle of gin. Sometimes both.

To be honest, Thuli Madonsela doesn’t bother me as much as she does you. Sure, she talks a little slowly for my liking, but she has the eyelashes of a camel and that’s all that really matters in these days of miracles and wonder.

In your statement on Wednesday you said you would “lead at the front to protect the ANC”. I like it. Everyone knows that Germany only lost the war because they sent men to the front. And let us not even speak of the Russians. You, Mary, have a weapon that men don’t have. I can’t imagine how and where you would use it to protect the ANC, but I’m sure you will find a way.

“For how long should we keep quiet?” you asked. I didn’t know the answer so I asked my so-called friend Ted. He said, “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned. Only then will we realise that one cannot eat money.”

I deployed a stranglehold I learnt in the army and accused him of perpetuating a quite possibly fictitious Red Indian saying. He accused me of using outdated racist terminology and kneed me in the nuts. I was incapable of speech for an hour or two, something you wouldn’t have experienced in your life.

You also took the whip to ABSA, Anton Rupert, Trevor Manuel and his squeeze Maria Ramos, Thabo Mbeki, the Rothschilds, Barclays Bank, the Oppenheimers, the World Bank and the Easter Rabbit. Maybe not so much the rabbit.

Hang on. You’re not Mary at all. You’re someone called Meokgo Matuba. I can’t say I have ever heard of you. This is not my fault, even though I am a white man. You have been very quiet since getting the position. Well done. I like women who keep a low profile. The world doesn’t need more Angela Merkels or Margaret Thatchers, that’s for sure.

Bits of your statement are right up there with Martin Luther whathisname’s speech about a dream he once had. “We have forgiven our leader, Comrade President Jacob Zuma. We will not be shaken by songs of disrepute, clatter of confusion, misinformed quotes by the mainstream media, and its originators, false religious prophets and veterans who have been fed to their stomachs by our former oppressors. Our people are most welcome and liberated to derive their opinion, but we urge all not to be hasty, but rather search within the deepest of secrets to unravel the truth.”

Are these your own words or did you hire Thamsanqa Jantjie to translate from the original? It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you continue defending men at all costs. By men I obviously mean one man in particular. The mother of all patriarchs is a man who stands head and shoulders above other men, thanks to all the lawyers and cadres who moved in to break his fall when the Guptas ran away.

Listen, please don’t get involved in the uranium business. It’s very unladylike. If you really have a thing for mining, go for diamonds. They’re a girl’s best friend. Well, Zuma is a girl’s best friend. Then diamonds. And maybe a contract to build nuclear power stations.

So, anyway. All this fuss just because the Constitutional Court found that the president violated his mandate. So what? Boys will be boys. You can violate my mandate any day, baby.

President Zuma, you have mail

Greetings, Mosholozi, in the name of our patron saint Machiavelli and all those who follow the holy gospels of perfidy and artifice.

Well done on surviving yet another attack by the running dogs of … I don’t know what. Let’s just call them running dogs. They bark a lot, chase their own tails and eventually roll over and lie there panting, trying to look cute and pathetic, hoping someone will come along and vote for them.

The opposition treats parliament as if it’s some sort of clubhouse for over-achievers. For people with a conscience. People who care. Well, it’s not. It’s the headquarters of one of the most powerful gangs in the country.

How dare these shouty arrivistes come to your headquarters and demand you get impeached? When I was small I read a book called James and the Giant Impeachment. It gave me nightmares from which I have never recovered. Nobody deserves to be treated like that.

Cape Town has for years proudly hosted the 26s, 27s, 28s, the Americans, the Mongrels, the Hard Livings and the Sexy Boys, but yours is the only gang with its headquarters in a fancy building right in the middle of the city.

Sure, at something like 243 members, yours is one of the smaller gangs in the Cape Town precinct. But what you lack in numbers you compensate for in influence. The 28s might trade in crystal meth and crack whores, but your members, oh boy, your members get to make laws! That’s pretty wild stuff, my man. I apologise. That was disrespectful. You are nobody’s man. Well, that’s not strictly true. You are Atul Gupta’s man.

You should know, though, that any man of my man is my man, too. Whoops. That sounds a bit gay. I have never forgotten the time some years back when you said, “When I was growing up, unqingili (homosexuals) could not stand in front of me.” A lot of people can’t stand in front of me, too, but that’s mainly because they are journalists who struggle to get to their feet by 11am and are back on their knees twelve hours later.

What I’m saying is that I am not gay. However, if you have changed your position, so to speak, and your gang now embraces gayness, then I am with you. Not physically, of course. I lack the stamina to compete with your sturdily built wives. But if you need me to pay special attention to one of your top people, I shall grin and bare it for the cause of the national democratic revolution. And when I say top people, I obviously mean the top six. I am not a racist but I think I might be a bit classist.

Given a choice, I would rather not have to perform Catholic ministrations upon Gwede Mantashe or Squirrel Ramaphosa. They are hefty men and, despite my advanced age, I have managed to retain my snake-like hips and would prefer them not to be crushed.

Jessie Duarte frightens me, not least because she reminds me of a Lebanese biker who almost snapped my spine in a street fight 20 years ago.

And Baleka Mbete, your fighting general, is out of the question because she doesn’t recognise anyone these days and I fear that in mid-coitus she might mistake me for Steve Hofmeyr and sink her fangs into my throat.

That leaves Zweli Mkhize. He’s a bit of a dark horse, which I might rather fancy if it weren’t for his … I beg your pardon, Brother Leader. This was not what I wanted to write about. Things got away from me. You, of all people, know how easily this can happen. Oddly enough, the Guptas also got away. Late last night, I believe.

Do you have a name for your gang? Yes, I know the official name is the African National Congress. But it lacks the panache of, for instance, the Los Zetas or the Crisps. Wait, not the Crisps. That’s the posse who run the Simba operation. The Crips. And their rivals, the Bloods. Awesome names, awesome people.

Acronyms, like ANC, are not that popular in the field of organised crime. Unless, of course, you’re the IMF, a guileful gang specialising in high-octane extortion. How about something like the Aryan Brotherhood but for black people? I don’t know what’s the antonym for Aryan and, quite frankly, hazarding a guess is more than my job’s worth.

Shouting in parliament on Tuesday, Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF gang, called your gang Bloody Voting Cattle. It has a pastoral yet deadly ring to it. Cows and voting have always scared me and, quite frankly, as a vegetarian anarchist I want no part of either. That could be my gang name. Ben ‘Veggie-Boy’ Trovato.

“My biggest nephew has been named in the Panama Papers? Hehehe. Gwede, unleash Veggie-Boy.” Obviously I would need some sort of eco-friendly superhero outfit, possibly made from hemp with a high THC count so that I could really fly when push came to shove.

Even though everyone recognises you as the capo di tutti capi, the control you exerted over your members on Tuesday by doing nothing more than nodding off was breathtaking. Not one of them voted in favour of that treacherous business instigated by the gangbangers on the other side of the room. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty. Well, actually you can. And you have.

The Democratic Alliance is an even worse gang name than the African National Congress because nobody has ever been afraid of an alliance, apart from maybe a miscreant Francophobe sentenced to a thousand hours of French lessons at the Alliance Francaise.

As a patriot who hopes for great things for his country, but mainly for himself, I am very pleased that you refused to do what the enemy described as ‘the right thing’. Capitulation is for weaklings and quislings and maybe even ducklings.

Speaking of which, I see that Trevor Manuel – I’m not sure if you remember him – has asked you not to bother coming into work on Monday. Or any other day. He’s from the Cape Flats and knows his way around an Okapi knife, so you might want to be careful. Also, he’s the deputy chairman of Rothschild in South Africa, one of the richest gangs around. Watch his hands. He leads with his right and takes with his left. Go for his balls, if you must. He didn’t have any when he worked for you but it seems they might have grown back.

Comrade President, there is something that has been worrying me. Nothing to do with Nkandla – I have also used other people’s money to improve my quality of life and Comrade Jesus has always sent some of his angels to keep me out of prison, as he has done with you – but I read a report this week that said a rat carrying bubonic plague was found in Tembisa.

I don’t want to be alarmist, but my favourite book, the Bible, is full of plagues. I know it doesn’t sound like much of a fun read, and you’d probably be happier with something by Robin Sharma or some other monk who sold his Ferrari and bought a small country. Not that you’re a monk. Heaven forfend that rumour gets around town. You still have many more wives to collect.

Right now, rats are everywhere. The state broadcaster is infested with them. Even the Hawks, who actually eat rats, have been overrun. Some even made it all the way from Uttar Pradesh to 7 Saxonwold Drive, although they seem to have abandoned this particular sinking ship.

Funny things, plagues. They start with rats. Next thing you know, you’re waist-deep in locusts, covered in flies and choking on frogs. This is fine if you’re French but it’s not so pleasant for those of us accustomed to a certain standard of living.

The point is, have you done anything recently that might have offended God or any other of the multitude of supernatural deities? Think carefully. No? Nothing at all? Okay, then. It must be a coincidence.

Anyway, good luck for future brawls. Like you, I would also prefer disputes to be settled in the old ways – with pangas and knobkieries – but I guess we’re stuck with the courts. For now.

Viva the one-party democracy!

Dear Eskom …

I hear you want to increase the price of electricity by seventeen percent. Is that all? Why the restraint? I’m sure you are familiar with the expression, “Go big or go home.” Don’t hold back, my friend. You should be asking for eighty percent. In this country, greed is rewarded.

The counter-revolutionary press says that even a seventeen percent increase would be a “major blow” to the country. If there is one thing this country needs right now, it is a major blow. When President Zuma recently played musical chairs with the finance ministry, causing world markets to bludgeon the rand into submission, we thought that was a major blow. It wasn’t. It was nothing more than a bitch slap. It didn’t come close to bringing us to our senses.

The Illuminati-controlled media are, of course, once again exaggerating wildly. All you’re trying to do is make a bit of money, for God’s sake. We’re all capitalists, here. Everyone’s battling to squeeze a buck out of something or someone. In your case, you’re trying to squeeze R23-billion out of us. More power to you, I say, even if it does mean less to us. There’s a joke in there somewhere. I might already have made it. Hard to tell any more.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. You have suffered a massive shortfall in revenue largely as a result of us using less electricity, which we only did because you asked us to. So we are to be punished for being conscientious, patriotic citizens. We are idiots for listening to you in the first place. We deserve to be punished.

There’s a term being used by the anti-Eskomites. They say you are trying to “claw back” money you have already spent. I like it. Claw back. It evokes images of vampires and werewolves ripping and tearing at something too scared and helpless to run for cover.

Seventeen percent. That’s what you’re asking for. It’s also what I got for maths in matric. Coincidence? I hope so. I’m good with numbers – just don’t ask me to do calculations. At least we have that in common. I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m good with counting. Oh, yes. I will whip the president’s arse in a counting competition. But that’s not enough to get me elected. Not that I wish to. I just want electricity. I don’t even mind if you give me the cheap stuff. Most people I know find their lights way too bright and would be quite happy to pay half the price for a diluted version of the good shit.

So you have applied to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to give you the increase. Isn’t that a bit like asking your crack dealer cousin to slip you a rock while the wife isn’t looking? You’re related. It’s no good pretending otherwise. You don’t always get on, sure, especially when the neo-liberal wing of the fascist media start snooping around, but you’re basically blood. You’re sucking on the same vein, right?

Thanks to democracy, Nersa has to play a charade called “public hearings” before deciding on whether or not you should be allowed to jack up your prices. In the days before prevarication and dissembling became skills to be listed on one’s CV, public hearings would involve the actual public. Then again, they did sometimes end in public executions. Perhaps that’s why Nersa is holding their hearings in convention centres, far from the great unwashed. Nobody needs public opinion when it’s standing on a chair brandishing a blunt machete and shouting in a deep Transkei dialect.

A man who attended the Cape Town hearings, who looks like he knows a thing or two about agriculture, said farmers wouldn’t be able to absorb the increase. I find that hard to believe. Have you seen the size of farmers? They got that way by absorbing all sorts of things.

He also said food security would be in jeopardy. What? Since when did food get its own security? This is outrageous. Bandits can wander in off the street willy-nilly and help themselves to our wives and children, but there are armed guards on the butternuts?

Equally outrageous is the DA’s storming of your offices at Megatwatt Park this week, demanding that your executives repay the R63-million they’ve received in bonuses since load-shedding began. It’s obvious the bonuses are not a reward for competence and hard work, but are meant as compensation for the shame of working at Eskom. It’s like danger pay, except it’s their reputations at risk.

So-called economists against the increase claim that consumers are already reeling from high food and fuel prices, the drought and a currency that should be in calipers by now. This is nonsense. They are reeling from too much beer and weed and need to be disciplined.

Apparently you have overspent by several billion rand because you completely overestimated the demand for electricity. Look, I know that Benoni used car salesman Amps van der Volt only invented electricity in 1994, but how do you overestimate demand? Are you saying you generated a whole bunch of electricity only to find nobody needed it? And they didn’t need it because you had spent years telling them not to use it? This is the kind of conversation Alice had with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

I’m also going to be applying for an increase this year. I haven’t had one in three years. In my line of work, there are no public hearings. There is just me whining and begging and an editor who says no. At least you can flip the switch in protest. All I can do is stop writing and go to the beach every day. Hmm.

I man a de Bush Doctor

Big up to Mario Oriani-Ambrosini. This week he stood up in parliament and appealed to President Jacob Zuma to legalise medicinal marijuana as an alternative treatment for cancer patients.

The Inkatha Freedom Party politician was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year. There is no stage five. His personal treatment plan included marijuana. If PW Botha were still president, this admission alone would have got Ambrosini ten years in jail and forty stitches for the police dog bites.

Would Zuma support the Medical Marijuana Bill? How could he not? I have never met a Zulu man who hasn’t smoked weed at some point in his life. Then again, most of the Zulu men I have met were the ones selling me weed in the first place. But that was then, when I was young and foolish.

I can’t imagine Sbu Mpisane returning to his La Lucia mansion after a hard day of doing whatever it is that nobody, not even the NPA or Sars, knows, loading up a gold-plated bong and sucking down a few sticky heads of primo intsangu before dispatching Shauwne to the kitchen to whip up a plate of toasted caviar and lobster munchies garnished with white truffles and drizzled with gold dust.

Ambrosini said it was a crime against humanity to deny medicinal marijuana to cancer patients. He was probably high when he said it, so we should cut him some slack. What Bashir al-Assad is doing to his own people in Syria is a crime against humanity. Let’s keep things in perspective.

Having said that, I was in an oncologist’s office in Morningside eighteen months ago. Me, my sister, my father and my mother. Mum was in a wheelchair because lung cancer makes you lose your appetite, which very quickly makes you lose all sorts of other things. She hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that she was dying. I’m not sure she ever really did. When I tried to take her for lunch on Mother’s Day, she said, “Wait until I’m feeling better.”  She ran out of life before we could have that lunch.

The oncologist’s office was filled with oil paintings and sculptures and the fripperies of the rich. Perhaps he needed it. He was, after all, a doctor whose patients were almost guaranteed to die, regardless of whatever treatment he recommended.

He flashed his dazzling white teeth and used words like “palliative” and tossed out helpful phrases like “there’s no point bankrupting yourselves on the most expensive chemo”. In other words, the cheap shit is just as ineffective.

While he was showing us, on his laptop, the progression of the cancer, I asked if marijuana might not be an option. Again, the smile. A little less dazzling, this time.

“No,” he said, looking at me as if I were slightly retarded. “That doesn’t work.”

I didn’t mean as a cure. I meant as a way of way of stimulating my mother’s appetite. As a way of easing the pain that would eventually see her crying out for her own long-dead mother.

The drugs he prescribed didn’t work. From what I saw, at horrifically close quarters, they made my mother’s last few months infinitely worse. It wasn’t his fault. Specialists are trained not to divert from their well-trodden path.

In America, the possession of marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington. It has been decriminalised in fourteen states and is legal, medicinally, in twenty states.

In Uruguay, you can do whatever the hell you like with it.

In Spain and Switzerland, you can grow as much as you want on your property.

The Dutch don’t give a damn about it.

And in South Australia, which has Adelaide as its capital, you can legally grow one non-hydroponic plant for personal use. In Canberra, you may grow two hydroponic plants. Bloody anal Aussies.

If you want to use marijuana because you’ve got a touch of the old cancer or simply because you want to kick back and have a bit of a laugh, you might want to avoid the progressive democracies of Bulgaria, China, Latvia, Somalia, Syria, Slovakia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

And, of course, South Africa.