Tag: Russia

Vladimir, we’re sorry

Dear Comrade Vladimir, Putin of all Putins, Ruler of Russia, Emperor of Eurasia, Capturer of Crimea, Nemesis of the Balkans, Vlad the Impala and Brightest Tsar of All, I throw my unworthy self at your feet.

While I am down there, allow me to apologise for this week’s disastrous court ruling that dashed Russia’s hopes of covering our countryside with nuclear power stations. Yes, I know we had an agreement, but what happened is not our government’s fault. None of us wanted to have to rely on the filthy wind or stupid sun for power. The problem lies with our courts. Unlike your country, we are still struggling to get the right people into the judiciary. Give us time.

If you are going to bomb us, please aim for the courts. The Western Cape High Court in particular is a hotbed of anti-nuclear, pro-marijuana snowflakes. If your missiles can’t reach Cape Town, send in the navy. Your men can come ashore at Camps Bay under cover of lunchtime. The police there have been trained not to question white people about anything.

I expect that our president is deeply embarrassed by the latest turn of events. I don’t just mean financially embarrassed either, although it will take some explaining to the wives why they might have to wait a bit longer for their R50-million apiece.

When Comrade Zuma got his men with pens to sign a cooperation agreement with your Rosatom heavies, he wasn’t to know it was unconstitutional and unlawful. For him to know that, he would’ve had to ask someone. He is a very busy man, our president. He doesn’t have time to go around asking people for advice. Also, he had to fire his finance minister for refusing to make duplicates of the keys to the treasury. So he got a combination lock and a new minister who can’t remember the combination. We’re not even back to square one. We’re just going in circles.

Our then idiot energy minister Tina someone-or-other – who is undoubtedly still an idiot but has since been fired and her name expunged from mortal memory – signed the secret deal with your guys last year. No problem there. Secret deals are good. However, we have a handful of people in this country who haven’t emigrated to Australia and for some reason they think they are entitled to question what the government does. This often leads to court cases and red faces in high places. You don’t have this problem. If anyone questions the Politburo, or whatever you call your inner circle these days, you get someone to cut their legs off. Not personally, obviously. You can’t be spending your days despatching brutes with chainsaws to sort out every unhinged bolshevik when you have a royal flush in a high stakes game of political poker in Syria while simultaneously toying with that kandy-coated tangerine-flake unstreamlined warbaby in the White House.

I have a confession to make. “What?” I hear you shout. “Without even being tortured?” Sorry. This is no time for jokes. Thing is, I stopped following Russian politics when Yeltsin stabbed Gorbachev in the forehead with a broken glass. A waste of good red wine if you ask me. So you’ll forgive me when I say I thought the Communist Party was still in charge. You won’t? I didn’t think so. You are not a man to whom forgiveness comes easily. Not your fault. That’s what happens when you’re breast-fed up to the age of 16.

Anyway, you probably stopped following South African politics on … what was it? Wednesday? When the nuclear deal went arse over kettle, to coin a phrase popular with the bleeding-heart liberals who sprawl across our judicial benches sucking on bongs and quoting from the constitution as if it were a real thing.

Your Communist Party got 13% in the last elections. Ours didn’t even stand. Hell, the general-secretary can barely stand. I see your party, United Russia, is firmly in control. Well done. Our ANC is very dominant, too, even though President Zuma is still looking for his machine gun and doesn’t ride horses with his shirt off. Not while on duty, anyway. We don’t know what he rides while he’s on holiday. He might not even wear trousers, for all we know.

I hate to quote Wikipedia but they have proved marginally more reliable than tea leaves and bone throwing, and they say that United Russia “has no coherent ideology; however, it embraces specific politicians and officials with a variety of political views who support the administration”. It’s uncanny how similar this is to our ANC. The only difference is that we embrace anyone with a variety of ways to launder backhanders and … oh, right. Wikipedia knows about the chainsaws.

I have to ask you something, comrade president. Does United Russia also rely heavily on the support of the benighted proletariat and failed agronomists less familiar with the Dow Jones Index than they are with the goat/chicken exchange rate? We call it the rural vote. I suppose in your country you’d call it the Ural vote. It doesn’t matter. The point is, we’re both big fans of a multi-party dictatorship based on ignorance and fear.

But let us return to matters nuclear, since it is quite likely the only interest the Kremlin has in us. Or rather, had in us.

I was shocked when Judge Lee Bozalek – if that’s his real name – ruled in favour of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute. Shocked because two shadowy organisations nobody has ever heard of succeeded in depriving me and my friends of 9.6 GW of nuclear energy. I don’t know if that’s a week’s worth or what. I don’t know what a GW is. VW, I know. And 9.6? That’s a low number. It doesn’t sound like a good deal for one trillion rand. For that kind of money I’d expect at least 75 000 GWs per person, per day. With a free bag and maybe a T-shirt.

Comrade Vlad, perhaps you’re looking for answers and nobody at the Union Buildings or even at the head office in Saxonwold is taking your calls. This seems likely, especially if you’ve already paid the bribes. I think I know what happened here. The case has been dragging on for 18 months and Judge Bozalek shut the whole thing down because he had to get home and start the braai. Also, he might be Ukrainian.

Apparently the whole shebang was meant to be debated in parliament long before those agreements were signed with invisible ink in an unlit room on a moonless night in the middle of the darkest month of the year, thus “flouting democratic processes”. Oh, please. I can’t speak for Russia, but we are a nation of flouters. We flout at the drop of a cat. I fully expect a Floutist Party to contest the next election. I’d certainly vote for them.

Besides, aren’t parliamentary debates more for the benefit of the international investor community than the great unwashed? After all, United Russia has a 76% majority in parliament and the ANC – which can’t be called united in any sense whatsoever – has 62%. With those odds, it’s not even gambling. The house is guaranteed to win every time. The game is rigged and that’s how it has stayed ever since the Ancient Greeks invented democracy and sodomy.

It is even more saddening that this kangaroo court of ours jumped to its rabid conclusions on Chernobyl Day, a day the world sets aside to celebrate nuclear power and tries to forget the men and women who died doing whatever it was they were doing when the number four reactor reacted badly to a late night safety test. We all react badly to being tested late at night. It’s no reason to be anti-nuclear.

Comrade, I urge you not to give up on us. We have other things we can give you. Would you like an elephant? I see you on the cover of GQ magazine wearing nothing but a pair of armadillo boots and ivory spurs, urging a giant tusker into a full-blooded gallop. Maybe heading into a fight with a Zimbabwean riding a hippo. I don’t want to tell you what to do. You have your own fantasies.

I’ll pop in for vodkas next time I’m in Moscow.

Do svidaniya!

VladImpala

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