22. South African toilets and the Swazi Navy.

There was a lovely story doing the rounds this week. A report appeared in a few of our local papers saying that our neighbours, Swaziland, had enacted a new law making it a criminal offence for witches to fly their brooms at a height of over 150 metres. Should they do so, they could get arrested and fined up to R500 000.

It seems crazy at first. It isn’t. The law was announced by Civil Aviation Authority marketing and corporate affairs director Sabelo Dlamini. It is not some arbitrary assault on the rights of free flying witches. The law has been enacted for the protection of the country’s airspace. It also prohibits people flying radio controlled helicopters or children’s kites at 150 metres. See. It’s all very sensible. And fair. Witches are free to do whatever they please below the magical 150 metre cut off point. It might be prudent of them to get their broomsticks kitted out with altimeters though.

Do you think we should tell them about this guy?

Do you think we should tell them about this guy?

This reminded me of a report that did the rounds a good few years back. I’m just going to cut and paste it, because it’s worth reading;

“The situation is absolutely under control,” Transport Minister Ephraem Magagula told the Swaziland Parliament in Mbabane. “Our nation’s merchant navy is perfectly safe. We just don’t know where it is, that’s all.” Replying to an MP’s question, Minister Magagula admitted that the landlocked country had completely lost track of its only ship, the Swazimar: “We believe it is in a sea somewhere. At one time, we sent a team of men to look for it, but there was a problem with drink and they failed to find it, and so, technically, yes, we’ve lost it a bit. But I categorically reject all suggestions of incompetence on the part of this government. The Swazimar is a big ship painted in the sort of nice bright colours you can see at night. Mark my words, it will turn up. The right honourable gentleman opposite is a very naughty man, and he will laugh on the other side of his face when my ship comes in.”

Funny, isn’t it? Here’s another funny thing. This is what a Swazi broom looks like;

Harry Potter's friends all chipped in and got him a skateboard for Christmas.

Harry Potter’s friends all chipped in and got him a skateboard for Christmas.

Notice something missing? Like somewhere to sit, maybe? African witches don’t fly around on brooms. Swaziland does not have, and never has had, a navy. These stories are complete fabrications. The papers that print them do so with a bit of plausible deniability built in. The paper I read the witch story in started with the phrase “according to a report”. Which report? From where?

But print them they do. They are too funny to pass up. But they come from a pretty dodgy place. And they are there for a pretty dodgy reason. One of the apartheid government’s stock defences of the all-white government in South Africa was that black people were not yet ready to govern themselves. They were like children. Sweet and funny, and oh so cute when they acted all grown up, but only a madman would put them in charge of a country.

Cute. He thinks he's big people!

Cute. He thinks he’s big people!

Why am I telling you this? I want to write a little bit about South African politics this week. Some of the stories I am going to tell you may sound like they are coming from the same place as these stories. They aren’t. The leaders of my country aren’t children. They aren’t stupid. Those at the top are very smart indeed. Probably smarter than yours.

Democracy doesn’t always work the same way. Here in South Africa, we don’t vote for people. We vote for a party. And those parties choose the people who will lead us. You don’t get to the top in a system like that by shaking hands and kissing babies. You get there by playing god’s own version of Survivor. You make alliances. You betray them. You gather influence. You serve the rich and powerful at the same time as you court the masses. Your political life is spent playing a game that makes chess look like tic-tac-toe. It’s not a game that can be won by fools.

ss. A game to be played with dignity and respect. It's no accident these guys are all wearing their formal blue mankinis.

Chess. A game to be played with dignity and respect. It’s no accident these guys are all wearing their formal blue mankinis.

The rules of the game are different to those in other places. You don’t lose if you don’t do your job properly. You don’t lose when you are caught having an affair. You don’t even lose if you are caught with your hands in the till. You lose if you fail to read the subtle ebb and flow of power and influence. You lose if you back the wrong horse. You lose if you step on the wrong toes.

Relax. Take a deep breath. Now exhale. I’m not about to become a political commentator. My blog isn’t going to suddenly fill up with tales of political intrigue and social injustice. Those stories are out there. You can follow them up if you wish. They will make you sad. I’m going to tell you the fun stuff. A system like ours has some fairly bizarre consequences. Those are the stories I will tell you this week.

I will tell you about the Minister of Education’s panties. I will tell you about the President’s naked portrait, “The Spear”. I might tell you about the State Security Minister’s wife, who was convicted of drug smuggling. I might share with you the bizarre saga of the open air toilets, or the tale of the communist with the million rand car.

I finally pulled myself together and wrote that book!

I finally pulled myself together and wrote that book!

But first, I will tell you about our President. Once you’ve met him, everything else I tell you will make sense. Or, at the very least, you will realise that nothing here makes sense.

20 thoughts on “22. South African toilets and the Swazi Navy.

  1. Marcia says:

    I love all of this, 23. One request, though. Could you please see if you can find a wider angle image of the chess game? Preferably one where the focus moves just a tiny bit to the left? Thank you ever so.

    • 23thorns says:

      Ageist! These men are hot, too. Just look at those rippling intellects!

      • Marcia says:

        Already got a guy with a rippling intellect. He has a wife with one, too. We both require our fantasy ripplage to be somewhat differently placed, I’m afraid. Just nudge the picture. A bit. That’s all I’m asking. (I’ll bet you cropped it that way on purpose.)

  2. narf77 says:

    “The leaders of my country aren’t children. They aren’t stupid. Those at the top are very smart indeed. Probably smarter than yours.”…ANYONE is smarter than ours…see the problem here in Australia is that we saw the word “vote for a party” and took it literally…we ended up with what we are told is “A Democracy” that we have to keep voting in with the vain hope that somewhere, sometime, we are going to get at least a pint of something that will take away the pain and a whistle to blow that will actually give us a modicum of pleasure. It isn’t the cream of the crop that rise to the top it’s the psychopaths with nothing to lose. I wonder if anyone has ever asked our Prime Minister what kind of panties she wears? Might make for more interesting banter than the political grandstanding and porkbarreling that we poor Aussies are being fed at the moment thanks to an imminent election…can’t wait to read about your pollies, nothing like shared schadenfreude to make a downtrodden citizens day comrade!

    • Lyn says:

      Anyone is smarter than our current political leaders – especially our PM and Treacherer oops, I mean treasurer. Just in case there are those out there in blogdom who don’t know what PM means, it stands for Prime Minister. At the moment, however, we don’t have a Prime Minister, we have a Public Menace.

      • Rob says:

        Whoa! Where’d you park your broom, sister? The alternative is WAY scarier! Now look what you started, 23 Thorns…

      • Lyn says:

        LOL my son-in-law borrowed it to sweep out his man-cave.
        I’m gonna start my own political party and vote for me 😀

      • Lyn says:

        Hee hee hee I knew I’d get a bite from someone.

      • narf77 says:

        Hi Lyn, where do you live? As Aussies we have to suffer a 2 party race whenever we have to choose a “worthy candidate” for our vote. This year I might be drawing a picture of a horses behind :(.

      • Lyn says:

        I live in the “Labor heartland of Western Sydney.” Oh, I’ll vote for the horse’s behind for sure 🙂

      • narf77 says:

        We are down in Tassie (ex West Aussies) and we not only have a P.M. with “P.M.” but we have a nana numpty for a labour leader in our state…sigh…horses derierre? Don’t mind if I do! 😉

      • Lyn says:

        Ohhh, Tassie! That is one place I haven’t visited yet but would really love to – it’s beautiful. I’ve been to QLD, WA (which I love), SA (loved that too) and VIC – okay, but a bit chaotic.
        Sorry 23, didn’t mean to hijack your post 😀

      • 23thorns says:

        I turn my back for ONE second and you damn australians turn my blog into a political forum! This is NOT acceptable! You CANNOT do this alone. Go and round up 60 000 of your friends so we can do this properly. I’ll mediate.

      • Lyn says:

        Only 6,000? No problem 😀

  3. ladysighs says:

    ” Or, at the very least, you will realise that nothing here makes sense.”

    You gave plenty of proof of that. lol
    Thanks for the visit to my blog…….where everything makes sense.

  4. I’m still trying to figure out how someone laughs “on the other side of his face”.

  5. Thank goodness my broom is still at the repair shop though being afraid of heights I think I can stay beneath the magical limit. Cross your fingers on that one.

    I have always been interested about how things work not just in politics in other countries. So I look forward to reading whatever may come next. I am sure it will be well worth the wait. It has been thus far. Peace!

  6. Mmnm says:

    You really should publish that book. It looks like a bestseller to me /irresponsible commenting

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