I was on the veranda snoozing over my third brandy when I was rudely woken up by Kupela coming swinging round the corner and screeching ‘Brandy before lunch? What’s the doctor going to say about this?’
‘Aren’t you supposed to be at work?’ I asked.
‘I’ve given myself a couple of days off. I’ve just come back from Kalabo.’
‘What have you been doing there?’
‘A thousand things in only seven days!’ she laughed.
‘Congratulations,’ I said. ‘You must go and show Michael. He can’t do a single thing in ninety days.’
‘So what’s been happening here?’ she asked.
‘Much the same as usual. Dotty Scotty lying to parliament on a daily basis.’
‘What’s he said now?’
‘He said the tribunal to investigate the three judges is still on.’
‘Is that a lie?’ laughed Koops. ‘Maybe it’s the truth. I mean, he should know.’
‘You asked me what’s been going on,’ I sighed, ‘and I’m just trying to tell you. If you already know what’s going on better than I do, why are you asking me? Every time I open my mouth you contradict me!’
‘Oh poor Daddy,’ she said, giving me a little kiss. ‘We all love contradicting you because you’re so contradictory. And you do so believe in the truth! It’s all so delightfully nineteenth century!’
‘Look,’ I said, as I reached for the brandy glass, ‘Dotty Scotty said that the tribunal is on, when in fact the Supreme Court has suspended it! So what he said was a damn lie! Contempt of court! Contempt of parliament!’
‘Calm down Daddy,’ she laughed. ‘Did you take your pills this morning? Don’t you know that in politics there’s no such thing as truth, only different ways of looking at things!’
‘Don’t try to excuse the inexcusable old rogue. He lied. I know it and you know it.’
‘Knowledge is subjective,’ she persisted. ‘From his point of view, he may have been telling the truth. After all, maybe the government has just bought another couple of judges, and now has a majority in the Supreme Court. So he may know more about it than you do!’
‘He was lying,’ I said.
‘I hope you’re right,’ said Koops. ‘Because, if he’s telling the truth, then the situation is worse than you think.’
‘He’s always lying,’ I insisted. ‘He told the house that the Action Aid Report is nonsense, and the Zambia Sugar Company is not evading tax.’
‘I think he’s telling the truth,’ laughed Koops, ‘and the government has made an agreement with the company that they don’t pay tax.’
‘That would be worse!’ I shouted.
‘Perhaps so,’ Koops agreed. ‘But you forget that the point at issue is whether or not Dotty Scotty is telling the truth.’
‘I don’t believe him!’ I growled. ‘He’s completely dotty. He lives in a fictitious world constructed entirely by himself. He wouldn’t know the truth if it stared him in the face!’
‘Maybe he’s not as dotty as you imagine,’ suggested Koops. ‘Whenever he stands up to answer questions in parliament the opposition expect him to lie, just like they do. So when they ask a question they are ready with all the facts and figures that will expose his lie. They have all the quotations from his manifesto to show that the government has broken its promises. Then he answers the question by simply speaking the truth as he knows it. They are flabbergasted! They sit there with their jaws dropping! He has taken the wind out of their sails! They have nothing to say! The last thing they expected was the truth! He has completely out-maneuvered them!’
‘Sounds very clever. But do you have an actual example?’
‘There are lots of them. When asked about putting party cadres into civil service jobs, he didn’t deny it, he just said Yes, we didn’t like your cadres which you left behind. When asked when the government will clear the vendors from the street he calmly replies Since we have failed in our promise to help them, they will just have to stay where they are. When asked about bribing voters he merely says If they don’t vote for us they’ll get no development.
‘Such answers may be true,’ I said, ‘but they’re also very inadequate. The man is clearly dotty.’
‘Maybe not as dotty as you think,’ said Koops. ‘There may be method in his madness.’
‘Such as what?’ I sneered.
‘He is educating us to understand the arrogance of power. And he’s preparing us for the day when he will just stand there and tell the house that another thirty members of the opposition have been appointed deputy ministers, so the ruling party now has a two-thirds majority, and the new one-party constitution will be pushed through next week.’
‘That would be terrible!’ I gasped.
‘But the question,’ said Koops, ‘is whether it would be the truth.’
‘So you think Dotty Scotty is not dotty after all?’
‘Not at all,’ said Koops. ‘Unlike his wife Lotty Scotty, she’s gone completely dotty.’
‘Oh dear, what’s she done?’
‘She’s just been railing against the male sexist culture of uttering vicious and derogatory remarks against women, which she says is disgusting.’
‘What’s dotty about that?’ I asked. ‘Isn’t it the truth?’
‘It’s very true,’ said Koops. ‘And very dotty. She’s putting herself in a very dangerous position.’
‘How’s that?’ I wondered.
‘She spoke without the protection of parliamentary privilege. To speak the truth in public can be very dangerous.’
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