“Don’t you just love a good urban legend, ” Servaas folds the Upington Post and places it on the bar’s counter, away from the wet circles. “We certainly have a lot of them floating around these days.”
“Like the one about Madiba? That he died in June, and was kept going until they could arrange for that giant tent in Quno? And to find a date that suited a hundred of the world’s most influential leaders? I must say, everything was arranged at lightning speed, quite staggering for a government that is famous for it’s tardy service delivery.”
“Indeed, Fanny. people are still wondering why Obama didn’t visit Mandela when he was on his African tour. If he admired the man so much, why not pop in for tea?”
“Just goes to show: you can’t blame our president for everything. The poor man has had such bad publicity lately, I almost feel sorry for him. Almost…not quite. After Gupta-gate, Arms-gate and Nkandla-gate, I think he’s praying for Escape-gate.” Vetfaan smiles smugly. “I heard they’re going to fire him.”
“And then what? Another court case that’ll take ten years? And then be thrown out due to lack of evidence?”
“No man, they’ve got the Secrecy Bill poised in the background, all set to prevent the public from knowing the truth about important things, like exactly how many wives the president has, and how much this costs the taxpayers. And don’t forget how many Christmas presents the poor man has to buy this time of year. You can’t rock up on Christmas eve with two dozen Teddy Bears and a few boxes of chocolates in a black bag. Kids these days want iPads and X-Boxes; and wives want something to make them feel special. I imagine Cartier must be the biggest supporter of the ANC, ever.” Kleinpiet doesn’t say this lightly, of course. Precilla has dropped a few hints lately after he placed her present under the tree in the voorkamer. Maybe he should have disguised the shape of the rain meter a bit better…
“Yes, the prez can’t afford to be kicked out. If the government stops paying the electricity bill for Nkandla, he’s looking a lifetime’s worth of dinners at candle light.” Vetfaan smiles wryly: just how many showers are there in Nkandla, anyway?
“But imagine this: if we were to get a new president, do we have to build a new Nkandla? Isn’t it cheaper to keep things as they are?”
Now, this is the type of question that causes silence in Boggel’s Place. After all, how do you answer that? It’s like the story of Vetfaan’s tractor: to keep it working, costs a lot of money – but things get done. It is, admittedly, much cheaper when it’s broken, but then you can’t use it for anything.
Servaas raps the counter with an arthritic knuckle, and tells them not to be stupid, the president isn’t going anywhere. “Anyway, to get back to urban legends, what about starting one? Let’s tell the lorry driver from Kalahari Vervoer we heard the next president is going to be a ….woman! And she’s going to get rid of all the fancy stuff and actually get involved with the running of the country. What about adding that she’ll encourage the prosecution of corrupt officials and even have regular meetings with that delightful woman, Tuli Madonsela?’ He pauses, smiling at the absurdity of it all. As if….
“You know, Servaas, sometimes I wonder what you smoke at night. An urban legend is something people will actually believe. It’s got to have an element of truth in it, as well. To suggest the president is going to step down quietly and allow a woman to take over…? No way, man. It’s like saying Mandela was a communist. Everybody knows he emphatically denied it.” There’s a twinkle in Gertruida’s eyes which could mean anything. “I mean, he’d never admit something as silly as that, would he?”
“Okay, here we go again!” Kleinpiet rolls his eyes skywards. “You told us the other day how the communists are using the ANC to take over the country. Start with the workers, end with the government…or was it the other way around? Come on, Gertruida, Let’s rather discuss things that may really happen. Like a drought or an increase in the petrol price. At least we know those aren’t urban legends.”
“Kleinpiet, you can believe what you want. Look at China. Or Vietnam. Or Africa. You think the communists aren’t interested? Of course they are. China manufactures, Africa provides. And let me tell you: at the rate the Chinese are moving into Africa, we’re going to have more and more pressure from that side as well.” Gertruida sighs heavily. “We’d better start reading up on communism, guys. For most people it’s just a word. Let me tell you – it’s much more than a sequence of nine letters. It’ll be the end of our way of life, that’s what.”
“So: Mandela had ties with the communists. Our current president needs them to stay in power. And we’re going to get a lady as the next president.” Servaas’s eyebrows shoot up in apparent surprise. “And you think people will believe that?”
Gertruida nods, her smile not reaching her eyes. “I think it’s terribly sad. Or funny.” She shake her head. “But we’ll know soon enough, I guess.”