‘Heard the latest?’ asked Sylvia. ‘A naked old woman fell from the sky and landed on a roof in Mutendere last night. She was found wandering in the street, muttering that she was looking for ladies of the night!’
‘Another mfwiti!’ I exclaimed.
‘It was Clueless Cluo!’ laughed Maureen. ‘She’d been sent by the MMPF as their parliamentary candidate!’
‘MMPF?’ asked Sara, as she came in with a tray of tea. ‘What’s that?’
‘The Mad Movement of Patriotic Fury,’ explained Maureen. ‘Buffaloes fleeing from the MMD are being adopted to contest seats for the PF, so the party is now the MMPF.’
‘But what has happened to their previous MP for Mutendere?’
‘She’s been bewitched by the mfwiti,’ laughed Sylvia, ‘and is now running around Ng’ombe howling like a hyena.’
‘How exactly are these selections done?’ I wondered, as I popped a drop of brandy in my tea. ‘I don’t believe it’s witchcraft. There must be a due process for selecting these candidates.’
‘Of course there is,’ said Maureen. ‘You should hear the stories from my friend Cynthia. She’s a member of the Central Committee, and attends all the selection meetings.’
‘So what happens?’ we all asked.
‘Listen,’ said Maureen, ‘I’ll tell you what she told me…’
When the Great Leader comes in, we all stand up and salute. Then he begins, saying, for example, ‘Fakue Constituency, which is the preferred candidate?’
‘We have Ms Hope Chisubilo,’ replies the provincial chairman. ‘She has lived in the constituency for ten years, joined the party when it was formed, has been doing community work all this time, and is very popular in the rural areas. She was selected as number one by the constituency, district and provincial committees.’
‘We need someone with experience of national politics,’ says the Great Leader, ‘tell her to stand as a district councillor. We have just welcomed Mr Bossy Mboo from the MMD and I have him lined up as my Minister of Wildlife. I think we’ll put him in Fakue.’
Just then my friend Mr Kalandisha raised his hand.
‘Yes, Kalandisha,’ says the Great Leader, ‘if you want to visit the toilet, you have my permission.’
‘No, Your Excellency,’ says the poor man, as he grovels and claps his hands, ‘I just wanted to say something.’
‘Look, Kalandisha, we have come here to make decisions, not to open up new discussion on cases which have already been discussed at the lower levels. Next constituency!’
‘So that’s what it’s like,’ laughed Maureen.
‘Good gracious!’ said Sylvia. ‘I feel sorry for Ms Hope Chisubilo.’
‘She would never have gone far,’ said Maureen sadly. ‘She believes in following the rules.’
‘Were all the selections like that?’ I wondered.
‘Let us return to the meeting,’ said Maureen solemnly.
‘Next constituency,’ says His Prospective Excellency.
‘Kubeba’ says the Provincial Chairman. ‘Mr Bent Chipondo came number one at the constituency and district levels after donating cell phones in order to facilitate the election campaign. But then my provincial committee unfortunately found out that he did not qualify to apply, since he did not reside in the constituency, and had never visited the place before he came for interview.’
‘Did Mr Chipondo give cell phones to the provincial committee?’
‘He did not. He even refused to pay rent for the room in which he was interviewed. He refused to buy us lunch, and instead went to his Benz and ate his own sandwiches.’
‘Very good,’ says His Aspiring Excellecy. ‘I’m glad he didn’t try to use his enormous wealth to try to influence your decision. However, you don’t seem to realize that Mr Chipondo is the one who manufactures all our party vitenge, and gives them to us free of charge. Because of his support for the party, he is automatically our candidate for Kubeba.
‘And on the subject of vitenge, I hope you have informed all our candidates that each of them is required to buy at least 500 of these vitenges at twenty pins each from the party treasurer, for free distribution to our supporters.’
‘Ha ha,’ said Sylvia, ‘I can’t understand how your friend Cynthia ever got onto the Central Committee. Isn’t she the one that failed her Grade Seven twice?’
‘Being a broadminded democrat, the Great Leader has the enviable talent of being able to identify with those who are intellectually challenged.’
‘But how did she get elected?’
‘Very easily. The Great Leader reads the names of all those he has chosen, and then all the three thousand delegates at the convention have to vote on whether they approve the list by raising their hands in acclamation.’
‘But you admit that some people on the list are obviously incapable!’
‘That’s done deliberately, to test their loyalty to the Great Leader!’
‘Supposing some don’t raise their hands?’
‘Exactly,’ laughed Maureen. ‘There is a video camera. Dissidents are immediately expelled from the party!’
‘But when this Central Committee looks at those seeking adoption as parliamentary candidates,’ said Sara, ‘they have to follow their own elaborate system of rules and due process for selection of parliamentary candidates. But according to what Cynthia says, it seems that the Central Committee chooses the ones who cheat, subvert, manipulate and bribe, or even those who circumvent the entire system.’
‘You don’t understand what’s really going on,’ laughed Maureen. ‘Politics is a very tricky business. They are looking for people who are go-ahead and pragmatic, who will get to the top by any means possible! People of action who can get things done! They don’t want conventional people who just follow the rules! They want inventive people who will make new rules!’
‘But these are the very people who say they will end corruption!’
‘Exactly,’ said Maureen. ‘Only those who understand corruption can end it!’
[Kalaki is grateful for ideas from Facebook friends, especially Mulu Zulu]