By Spectator Kalaki
Yesterday evening Sara arrived back from Addis, where she had been working for women’s rights. ‘You should try to do something about women’s rights in Zambia,’ I laughed, as I brought in a tray of tea.
‘Here we have the Ministry of Gender,’ she declared solemnly.
‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘that’s the biggest obstacle.’
‘Tell me,’ she said, ‘what’s been happening while I was away? Anything amusing?’
‘Absolute farce!’ I laughed. ‘Yesterday Lusaka was like one big theatre, with sirens blaring, flashing lights, ambulances speeding, C5 driving recklessly on the wrong side of the road with guns blazing, police motorcycles crashing, and so on.’
‘Where? In town?’
‘All up and down the Great East Road. It was like one big circus. Everybody came out to watch!’
‘Did you find out what was happening?’
‘Well, the rumour was that there had been a big crash landing at the airport. Some people said GBM has crash landed after falling out of an aeroplane. Others said that an Emirates jumbo had crashed on take-off because GBM was too heavy for it. Others said that hundreds were dead and GBM was the only survivor.’
‘Very sad news,’ said Sara.
‘Don’t be sad,’ I laughed. ‘When we turned on the evening news we found out that there never had been a crash! It was all just a spoof! A scam!’
‘What! Just for public entertainment?’
‘Not entirely. Apparently the emergency services were doing a practice drill, so they’ll be ready to act if there really is a crash landing! So when the whole thing was over, all the dead bodies just stood up and walked away!’
‘A miracle!’ laughed Sara. ‘A mass resurrection! Praise the Lord!’
‘Probably staged by the government,’ I said, ‘to take our minds off the corruption allegations.’
‘It’s already seven o’clock,’ said Sara, as she took another sip of tea. ‘Turn on the news, they may have more entertainment for us!’
As I turned on the TV, the lugubrious face of Kenneth Maduma filled the screen. ‘Today,’ he began ‘the emergency services continued with their national fire drill, with an emphasis on how to deal with an attack upon state institutions by enemy insurgents.’
The picture now turned to the building of the Anti-Corruption Commission, where gangs of thugs in green shirts were seen chasing the Commission staff, and throwing documents out of the windows, as the surrounding mob raised their fists and cheered.
‘If democracy itself were on fire,’ intoned the doom-laden voice of Madooma, ‘would our emergency services be able to cope?’
Now the news picture came to the next clip, showing thick black smoke billowing from the ACC windows, and frightened staff on the roof. But then we saw the firemen come with a long ladder, and one by one the staff were taken down.
‘Don’t worry,’ the voice of Dooma reassured us, ‘the ACC is not really on fire. That is just fake smoke.’
‘Not only that,’ Sara cackled, ‘it is a completely fake commission.’
Now the Face of Doom again filled the screen, and the Voice of Doom continued to read the news. ‘The Office of the Acting Vice-President, which is responsible for all disasters, has announced that the fire drill at the ACC was a complete success. The only casualty was a fireman who fell off a ladder because of his fear of heights.’
‘I hope this really was just another spoof,’ said Sara.
‘They have to make it look realistic,’ I explained.
‘Although we were only able to show you the exciting events at the Anti-Corruption Commission,’ continued the Voice of Doom, ‘this national fire drill has been taking place all over the country. The Supreme Court was easily and immediately evacuated when they saw the mob of green shirts coming, and all is now peaceful there. The Acting Temporary Retired Chief Justice, having anticipated the event, has flown to Malawi for a holiday.’
‘That sounds suspicious,’ said Sara.
‘Don’t worry about her,’ I laughed, ‘she was too old for the job anyway.’
‘In Kitwe,’ continued the relentless monotone of Doom, ‘the President of the Movement of Many Defections sought refuge in a police station, thinking that the green-shirted mob of thugs were after him. So the police had no option except to lock him up in protective custody.
‘At the National Assembly, parliamentarians were more co-operative, so there was no need to send in the green shirts. In a show of national unity, members of parliament all agreed to put on green shirts and set fire to the place themselves.’
‘And then,’ I laughed, ‘the fire brigade ran out of water.’
But as I was laughing, the face on the TV screen had changed, revealing the curling lip of the dreaded and all-powerful Splinter Kapimbe, Acting President of Vice, Minister for Destroying Justice, and Secretary General of the Punching Fist.
‘Fellow citizens,’ he began, ‘I have a brief announcement to make. Following the divisive, violent and treasonable activities of opposition parties, the Ruling Party has had no choice except to take over all the state institutions that were being manipulated to undermine legitimate government. In other words, the one-party state has been restored in the interest of peace and national unity. I can assure each and every one of you that everything is now under the control of the Ruling Party, and the Party is Supreme. That is all for now. Further bulletins and decrees will be issued in due course. Goodnight.’
‘It seems,’ sneered Sara, ‘a rather a heavy-handed way of avoiding a corruption investigation.
‘Cycle Mata is going to be very annoyed when he hears about this,’ I said.
‘He should have seen it coming,’ said Sara, ‘as soon as they started building his retirement home.
Kalaki’s blog is found here