Sometimes, when world news brings down a mood of gloom over Rolbos, they play a game. Gertruida will dress up in her Sunday best, and become Gertruida Amanpour, international reporter for CNN (Chaotic Network News). She’ll then interview somebody famous, using an empty beer bottle as a microphone. During these sessions, Boggel gets onto the counter, and films the proceedings with an empty wine-box, having cut two strategic holes in opposing sides.
They don’t do this for free at all, the audience must pay a small entrance fee and if the interview was particularly funny, they’ll pass a hat around afterwards. The proceeds end up in the Rolbos Orphanage Fund, which buys Christmas presents for the orphanage in Grootdrink.
Tonight, Gertruida Amanpour is interviewing Jacob Vetfaan Zuma.
Amanpour: Mister President, you are a most educated man, I see. Tell us about your schooling?
Jvz: Well what can I say? You know I am highly intelligent, don’t you? You have to be, to be in charge of the country. So it’s only natural that I educated myself. If you don’t believe me, you can check it out on the government’s Presidency site. And you know the government never lies. Never. We don’t lie. No.
Amanpour: That’s very interesting. You must be very proud of your country?
JVZ: You crazy or something? No, there are too many strikes and unions. Even the police are getting better. No, I’m on record that my favourite will always be Mozambique. Oh, they have occasional floods, but us rich people don’t live in the valleys. Have you seen Nkandla?
Amanpour: You are also a very proficient dancer, I hear.
JVZ: Of course. To be who I am, you have to be good at that. That’s the legacy of Robben Island – I learnt ballroom dancing there. If I may (coughs and pushes up his glasses with his middle finger) I’ll refer you to the Presidency site again. I quote: ‘South Africans know and love him for his prowess on the dance floor and his impeccable vocal chords.’. (aside) Don’t you just love spin-doctors?
Amanpour: At the age of almost 73, you seem surprisingly spry. What’s your secret?
JVZ: I take daily classes in political athletics. And I’ve a black belt as a master in moral gymnastics… Why do you ask?
Amanpour: (embarrassed, changing the subject) You have a favourite chocolate?
JVZ: Of course. It’s a One Bar. It reminds me of my prison days…you know? A jail window with only one bar left after you’ve filed through the rest. (waves a dismissing hand) Oh, you won’t get it. Don’t worry.
Amanpour: You seem to be quite a Cassanova, Mister President. Officially you are married to four women, and have 19 kids?
JVZ: Twenty-one, officially, if you read the papers. We all know ‘officially’ means you never have to say you’re sorry. I will not be drawn into a debate about this. All I can say is that I did better than Steve Hofmeyr. (laughs, holding his stomach) He’s such an amateur! But I can tell you this: if I wasn’t the president, the school-fees would have killed me.
Amanpour: You’ve been described as ‘an organic intellectual’ with ‘a cavalier attitude’. Can you elaborate?
JVZ: Yes.(coughs) Farming has always been important to me.
Amanpour: There have been calls for you to resign. Professor Pityana wrote you a letter in this regard, and I quote: ”My… motivation for taking this step is the recognition that we have to pull back from the precipice – or to coin a phrase, from this ‘moral cliff’ – where any sense of public good or virtue, loyalty or restraint are absent, and the moral sensitivity of the nation is in paralysis,” and ”In other words, the absence of a moral basis for human conduct – especially in public life – is totally lacking and the victims will be the poor and the powerless.” Surely, Mister President, these are serious words. How do you respond?
JVZ: Come on now! (cleans his glasses and smiles disarmingly) Do you really think we should start listening to professors in this country? What do academics know? They’re a legacy of Apartheid, a throw-back to colonialism. We’ve progressed far beyond that. If you Americans are still caught in that type of slavery, it’s your own fault.
Amanpour: One last question, Mister President. I know you told me to stay away from (she checks the five-page list of forbidden subjects) asking questions about Nkandla, the Arms Scandal, rampant corruption, crime statistics, the state of schools, hospitals and service delivery. You said you’d invite me to some tribal dancing if I did. So, here’s my final question: how do you see your future in South African politics?
JVZ (coughs, laughs uncomfortably) Well, you see, I’ve never been involved in politics. I don’t do that. I only do what the party tells me to do. I’m a servant, see? I serve the party. They build my house, I sign their papers. Once Nkandla is paid for, I’ll step aside. There are many more comrades that need housing, you see? So, as somebody who’ve never been involved in politics, I don’t have a future in it at all.
Amanpour (stares at the camera) And there you have it. South African President denies being a politician. This is Gertruida Amanpour, returning you to the studio. Good night.
They don’t pass a hat around afterwards. Servaas say’s it wasn’t funny at all. Boggel’s suggestion that everybody makes a donation to the National Association for Unappreciated Statesmen and Eligible Amateurs does, however, raise enough for a teddy bear. Gertruida thinks Vetfaan was brilliant, calling his performance a ‘true-to-life’ rendition of a very mysterious character.
She says they must think of doing a show in Grootdrink, but then they’ll pass the hat around before they start.
Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.