Monthly Archives: November 2017

…and Gertruida was right. Again…

zuma.jpg‘The problem with Gertruida,’ Boggel sighs, ‘is that she’s right all the time. And she understands the great international power-play better than most.’

‘You talking about China again?’ The frown on Vetfaan’s face tells a story. ‘We all know those guys are colonising Africa – and gaining influence all over the show. I mean, Gertruida talks about their so-called ‘investments’ in infrastructure, military and agriculture all the time. And, she says, it’s not because they are a charity organisation – they’re in it for themselves.’

He gets a nod from Boggel, ‘You’re right, of course. Like all clever investors, they want a return on their investments. Like: We’ll build you a road, but we want your diamonds. Or tobacco. Or we want to export a few of our countrymen to live and trade amongst you guys. And then, after a few decades, we’ll have you in our pockets completely..’

‘Ug. We’ve got enough problems as it is, Boggel. Imagine Uncle Jacob combining forces with Beijing…’

‘Well, according to Gertruida, your president is already in bed with both the Russians and the Chinese. This, she says, is both good and bad.’ Boggel lets the statement drift away in silence. Vetfaan – not the most patient of men – has to prompt him to go on. ‘Well, Vetfaan, it’s like this: First off – it’s bad because we’re selling off crown jewels to line our leaders’ pockets. But there is a silver lining…’

‘Oh, come on, Boggel! Get on with it.’

‘In recent years two major things have happened almost without anybody saying much about the herd of elephants that brought into the room. You see, the world is moving towards a Mafia-like state. International crime syndicates operate on a global scale – these include religious fanatics, the pirate ships that cruise the oceans, money laundering by respected companies and unholy alliances between politics and economic forces. These, you may know, combine to keep dictators in power while the international community turns a blind eye. Look, for instance, how South Africa and Zuma and the African Union tolerated Mugabe’s antics, his mass-murders and the rigged elections for 30 years. How do you explain that? It’s a game of crooked thrones, my friend.

‘Anyway, there’s another aspect that contributes to our little metaphorical elephant herd: there’s no honour amongst crooks no more. The big boys want their pound of flesh and they want it on time. They’ll give you a bit of money, but they want it – and more – back. The days of free handouts are over – the name of the game now is: I’ll scratch your back, but you’ll return the favour many times, over and over. And if you don’t…’

Vetfaan leans forward with a glint in the eye. ‘Yes? What then?’

‘Well, China showed their hand with Mugabe. Gertruida says there’ll be a ripple-effect, because there’s no way that such a thing happens without it influencing the entire region. Also, the two big powers at play here is in competition with each other. A game of international tag, if you like.’

‘So what will happen? Will China lean on our president?’

‘No, Vetfaan. Gertruida says it is far worse than that. Russia will…’

‘First they woo you. Then they screw you?’

‘True Vetfaan. The guys singing to you, are in uniform. Never forget that.’


Gertruida’s Conspiracy Theories about Uncle Bob and the 2023 Rugby Bid.

mug chin.jpg‘You really cannot talk like that.’ Vetfaan scowls over his beer glass. Gertruida has a silly way of analysing current affairs and then come up with the weirdest theories – and then expect people to actually believe her. ‘The Chinese would never do something like that.’

‘Oh Vetfaan, you can be so refreshingly naive! You must remember that those guys have thousands of years of political guile up their sleeves. When we were still rambling about all over the world while trying to figure out how to act in a civilised manner, they had already perfected the art of diplomatic horse-trading. The history of the Xia, the Shang and the early Zhou dynasties – which according to some, were concurrent political entities – date back to thousands of years before the Current Era. There can be no doubt that the Chinese are  masters at manipulating others to fit in with their plans – their recent and progressive colonisation of Africa provides ample proof of that.’

Vetfaan rolls his eyes. ‘So….they tell uncle Bob to send his general to China for a nice little visit. At the same time they whisper in his ear that his vice-president poses a threat to his plans to get Grace to follow him up. With the general out of the way – so they tell him – it is the perfect time to fire the vice, not so? Uncle Bob, who owes the Chinese a lot, gets a greedy glint in the eye. Of course, he reckons, his Chinese friends are right.

‘But there’s a catch.The Chinese aren’t stupid. For years they have poured resources and money in to Zim, only to see Uncle Bob pocketing half of it all. They look at the future and see Grace as the next president. No, they argue, that’s not good. They have to get rid of both Uncle Bob and his expensive wife. So, while the general sips tea with his Chinese friends in Beijing, they tell him all. Also, they say, the time for a coup is ripe. Go for it as soon as the vice-president is fired – and you’ll have the support of most people in Zim. Oh, and don’t worry about diplomatic repercussions – the entire Southern Africa is in our pocket. We’ll tell the heads of state to sound concerned – but to let it go.’

Gertruida’s smile reaches her eyes. ‘Well, well, Vetfaan! You really did listen to my theory after all. Yes, with Zim heading to normality, the Chinese are sending a message to the rest of Southern Africa.’

Vetfaan snorts and signals for a fresh beer. ‘And what would that be?’

‘Simple. They’re reminding the politicians who is in charge, that’s all.’

Boggel slides the beer to Vetfaan with a wavering smile. ‘Okay, Gertruida, if you’re so clever: why was our bid to host the World Cup unsuccessful?’

‘That’s easy, my friend. Do you think having a few stadiums or a nice organising committee is enough? The world is watching us, Boggel. They take note of Nkandla, Escom, Petrosa, the railways, our airline, our ministers of finance, the rampant corruption. They shudder at the thought of 52 murders every day and women who get raped at the rate of 15 per hour. They read what Jacques Pauw and Ronnie Kasrils wrote.

‘And on the morning of the vote, there’s  coup in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

‘Who – in their right mind – would vote for us?”

A terrible silence follows her question. It’s almost as if the shame of our government is worse than the mess on the other side of the Limpopo.

‘To divide and rule could only tear us apart;
In everyman chest, mm – there beats a heart.
So soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionaries;
And I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.‘           Bob Marley