“Is Mugabe ill?”
Vetfaan’s question silences them all.
“You mean mentally…or really. Like in physically?” Servaas seems quite happy to accept either.
“No, man. Like in a coronary or something. There’s a rumour circulating. Some even maintain that he didn’t survive a massive heart attack.”
“Lies, lies, despicable lies.” Gertruida goes harrumph and winks at Boggel for another beer. “You’ll hear plenty of them. Some of them are more untrue than others, though.”
“All lies are untrue, Gertruida. It’s like pregnancy: it either is, or is not. No half measures there. Ask Oudoom – he maintains all sins are equal.”
“You have to understand politics…and Africa. The two combine to make a heady mix of fact and fiction. It is extremely rare to hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Every rumour and every statement represents a subjective opinion, which often has to be diluted a bit to make it more palatable. Those in power want to remain in power, so they feed the masses what they want to hear.”
“Being dead isn’t a subjective opinion or condition, Gertruida! It’s a fact. Now, either the man is still with us, alive and kicking, or not. I take your point, though – you can possibly be half-alive and still rule. It’s like being half stupid and still being able to quote clever people – sometimes it happens.”
Gertruida smiles. “Okay – here’s how they’ll handle a situation where a long-serving president passes away. At first they’ll say nothing. Behind the scenes there’ll be a massive scurrying to get a new leader in place. There’ll be denials and silences. There’s even a possibility of a pre-recorded TV-interview to create the impression that the reports are false.
“But of course, should there be doubts about his ability to sign cheques or handle chopsticks, the government would have to appoint an interim president – and that, apparently, has happened. Whichever way it pans out, it’ll most probably be much the same scenario as what happened to Mandela: rumours of his death preceded the official announcement by days…even weeks. So, who knows?”
“But then,” Servaas frowns, “things are going to be better in Zim. I mean, with Bob gone, they’ll have a new lease n life?”
“Politics and Africa, my friend; you have to understand them. A president stands on the shoulders of many men and women – he cannot get to that position without support. In fact, a president is only the face in a chair – the real rulers are neatly tucked away under the table. Do you think Mugabe or Zuma or any other president stays awake at night, worrying about policies? Not a chance! The power behind the throne is what it’s all about. Follow the money and you’ll discover who really runs the government. Take away the president…and a new puppet emerges from behind the curtain. It’s all just a show, Servaas, and the masses are entertained by what they want to see.”
“I still don’t know…” Vetfaan starts, but Gertruida interrupts him.
“It doesn’t matter, Vetfaan. It simply doesn’t…”
Vetfaan sighs. Gertruida is right again. The only thing that may possibly change in Africa in the next year, is the spelling on the ANC birthday cake.