“So we’re going to have a socialist president, a capitalist vice-pres and a communist work-force to govern the country. And all this, I must remind you, under the banner or democracy.” Gertruida has been following the unfolding events at Mangaung on her transistor radio and is keeping the patrons in Boggel’s Place up to date with the news. “I just can’t see how they’ll all live in the same hut until 2019.”
“Ag you know Gertruida, that’s why Nkandla is so huge. When they have their Camp David discussions, they’ll be so far away from each other, it won’t matter what is said. Nobody’s going to listen.” Vetfaan signals for another round before going on. “And remember – there are lots of inquiries on the horizon. Some of those guys had their hands too deep in the till with the Arms Deal Scandal and other bits of corruption. I’ll bet you a friendly beer: whoever gets elected at this conference – it won’t be the team of same guys in power by December 2013.”
“You may be right. The governing party has become a speeding juggernaut; there’s so much momentum to the divisional forces within the organisation, something will have to give. Like is the past, they’ll find a few scapegoats to blame – like they did to poor Malema. It’s okay to toe the party line, but if you cross them, they’ll get rid of you. And that’s their biggest problem – trying to look innocent with several hands in the cookie jar. If they want to come out of the corruption scandals as a going concern, they’ll have to sacrifice somebody really important. It’s the only way to fill up the cracks.”
Kleinpiet shrugs. “It’s the same in all governments. Tell me – with the exception of the Queen – who, in world politics, were born to the job? Politicians aren’t born; they get made. They spot the cookie jar when they’re quite young, and then work tirelessly to become somebody that others listen to. And why do people listen to other people?” He pauses before answering his own question. “Because they hear stuff they want to hear. Better schools. Better clinics. Better roads. Bigger social grants. We can’t blame our government for inventing these promises – it’s a global phenomenon. Promises create politicians.”
“The origin of the word politics is interesting.” Gertruida is lecturing again.”Polite, police, policy and politics all derive from the Greek word denoting a citizen. It’s supposed to say something about the order and rules within a city. And the word candidate is derived from the same language; Candida, meaning ‘white’.” She holds up a stern hand. “We shall not pursue the origins of candidate any further, gentlemen. There are ladies present.”
“So, originally politicians were clean, blameless citizens who were respected and therefore granted the responsibility of determining rules?” Boggel climbs on his crate to be part of the conversation. “So, how did we end up with the sad state of affairs we have to cope with? I read in The Upington Post that Thuli Madonsella has more than 14,000 cases of corruption to investigate. We have 30-odd ministers. I reckon that averages out at about 500 cases per ministerial department. I think it’s a world record.”
“Gee, Boggel! You can’t make allegations like that! It’s not the ministers who do the wrong stuff – there are many people under them who…”
“Exactly!” Boggel smiles apologetically as he interrupts. “They should have been in charge. They should have been aware. They should have had systems in place to prevent all this fraud. They should know who is spending money on what. That’s my point: if a minister in – say England – runs a department and some junior clerk siphons off a few million, he resigns. He acknowledges his oversight and takes the knock. That’s what honourable men do.”
“Well, I still think the congress in Bloemfontein made the right choice. If you re-elect somebody who’s really paid his dues, you get a smooth operator. New blood in the Presidency would have meant somebody had to learn all the ropes from scratch. I mean, if you know where the cookie jar is, you don’t fumble around and run the risk of upsetting the whole thing. You take cookies one by one without making it obvious.” Kleinpiet finishes his beer. “And with so many children and wives, we can’t expect the poor man to survive on a government salary, can we? He has to make sure he can supplement his salary on a continuous basis, so he’ll make sure the cookies don’t disappear into the pockets of less-deserving individuals.”
“I’m a bit confused,” Boggel says as he wipes his brow. “You’re telling us we’ll be run by a Communistic Capitalist Corrupt Parliament. That’s the CCCP all over again. Vetfaan told me he saw those initials in Angola, during the war.”
“No, Boggel, not the CCCP. We’ll have a nice government. Uninterrupted Stealing, Swindling and Redistribution. It may sound Russian, but it’s an African thing. It says: no matter who leads, the rules don’t apply to him or his pals. It’s not so bad for the president either. You get somebody else to pay for your house as well.”
“So, what did you say about the end of 2013, Vetfaan? You’re still willing to take that bet?” Boggel extends his hand.
When they shake on the deal, Gertruida wishes Vetfaan and Boggel the best of luck.
We’re all going to need it.
And way out, on the unforgiving ocean, the party was in full swing. This ship cannot sink, they said. The orchestra on the main deck was pumping out a traditional dance as they neared the iceberg. Nobody paid attention to one man who headed for the lifeboat. Kgalema Mothlante was not going to drown, not at all. He knew too much. And as the men and women danced to the rhythm, he drifted away.
Later they’d all wonder what happened to him, but by then it would be too late. He planned his next step carefully. While the last passengers floundered in the cold waters, he started rescuing those that didn’t make it. He won’t make the ship float again, but he’ll make sure they never build another Titanic.