Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

Zambia: Kalaki's Korner: By-Election Business

opinion

'Turn on the TV,' said Sara, 'We'd better steel ourselves for more gruesome news from the by-elections. Maybe more police misbehaviour.'

'Let's hope that Sillyman Jelly hasn't been stirring up more trouble,' I said. But as we were talking we heard a car coming into our yard, so I went to see who it was.

So we never did get to hear the news about the police chief's latest illegal antics.

Stepping out of a bright red Merc was a young man in a posh suit and all the bling bling gear to match. 'I'm not sure we've met,' I said, stretching out my hand.

'Ha ha, Uncle Kalaki,' he laughed, 'always cracking jokes! I used to take you seriously!'

I ushered him into the sitting room. 'Our nephew has come to see us,' I said bravely to Sara.

'If it isn't young Dingiswayo!' said Sara, as she rose to greet him. 'I hardly recognized you, you're so much older, and er... fatter.' Then turning to me, 'You remember, this is Aunty Bina's eldest son!'

'Actually I'm not Dingiswayo Phiri anymore,' smiled Bina's eldest son. 'I'm now Dr Maximillian Kambikambi.'

'Well yes,' laughed Sara, as we all sat down, 'I can see you've changed a lot. How did you achieve such a massive transformation?'

'God was good to me,' he explained. 'A good friend of mine got killed in a car accident, and it turned out that he had bequeathed all his certificates to me. Praise the Lord!'

'You certainly needed some divine assistance,' laughed Sara. 'I can still remember the unfortunate circumstances of your premature departure from Kaoma Very Secondary School. So what are you doing now?'

'For the past couple of years I've been the member of parliament for Lububa.'

'Ho ho,' Sara laughed. 'Isn't that the one that's always having by-elections?'

'That's how I squeezed in,' laughed Maximillian, 'at the by-election in early 2011. By the time the previous MP, Mulwele Mulungulwa, had finally faded away, I'd already been campaigning there for three months. It was a safe seat for UPND.'

'But how did you manage to get selected?'

'With the Up and Down Party there's no problem. If you just put down a hundred million to buy the votes, you can have it.'

'But where did you get the hundred million?'

'I borrowed it from the bank.'

'They lent you money to buy a constituency?'

'No, to make extensions to my bakery.'

'Did you have a bakery?'

'No. But the bank didn't know that.'

'Didn't you have to put up collateral?'

'Oh yes. I gave them the title deeds to my house.'

'Did you have a house?'

'No. But I had some very convincing title deeds.'

'And you won the seat?'

'It was a cinch. I had a hundred million to get all the voters drunk. On top of that I promised them an electric railway all the way to Joburg so that they could all emigrate to South Africa. And, as Kambikambi, I was a nephew to Paramount Chief Lubulubu of the Bubabuba.'

'But you now owed the bank a hundred million,' said Sara. 'Was it worth it?'

'Of course it was worth it. At that time the ruling MMD were short of a majority and were paying three hundred million for an opposition MP. So I crossed the floor straight away.'

'Another by-election?'

'Of course. All the people of Lububa were too happy when the ruling party came in with all their money. This time they were continuously drunk for three months. When they finally sobered up for polling day they found four new primary schools and six new clinics.'

'But no railway line?'

'I showed them the plans for that. I was elected by a landslide.'

'And soon after that came the 2011 General Election?'

'Yes, and again I triumphed, and was again returned to parliament on the MMD ticket.'

'But now on the opposition benches?'

'Even better. This time I got four hundred million for crossing the floor and was made a deputy minister.'

'Another by-election?'

'Of course. By now I was a hero in Lububa, which had become the richest constituency in the country. It was generally reckoned that nearly half the money stolen from the treasury had been poured into Lububa. Of course I was returned on the Punching Fist ticket with a thumping majority.'

'But wasn't there another by-election in Lububa last week?'

'Yes, we've been blessed by God. Unfortunately I couldn't stand again, after what the judge said about me at the election petition hearing. So instead the Punching Fist employed me to set up my own party in Lububa. I formed the Bye Bye Party.'

'Bye Bye to poverty?' suggested Sara.

'Almost right,' laughed Maximillian. 'I stood on an election promise to organize two by-elections every year. My Bye Bye campaign split the Up and Down voters into the Ups and the Downs, so it was Bye Bye to the Ups and Bye Bye to the Downs, and again the PF won easily.'

'But now you've lost your seat. So is it Bye Bye to politics?'

'Sadly, yes,' he said with a broad smile. 'But as a reward for my patriotism and services to the development of the nation, the government has made me High Commissioner to Nigeria.'

'Quite an opportunity to further your career,' said Sara.

'That's what brings me here this evening,' he said, as he pulled some papers out of his inside pocket. 'As an ambassador I'm not supposed to own a trading company, so I want you two to be the sole shareholders and co-directors.'

'Piss off,' said Sara.

Kalaki's Korner

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