Kalaki’s Corner: President Inonge

I tapped politely on the door and a gentle voice said ‘Come in’. There behind a huge desk sat the small figure of President Inonge Wina. She came to greet me, and directed me towards two large leather armchairs by the French windows.

‘Good morning Your Excellency,’ I said, as we shook hands and then both sat down.
‘We’ve known each other for such a long time,’ she said, ‘so you might as well continue calling me Inonge. So, Kalaki, what brings you here this morning?’

‘Since you’ve just completed your first 100 days,’ I said, ‘I thought I’d just drop in to find out how you’re finding the job, and if you feel you’re now making progress after all the upheaval of the impeachment.’

‘I’m so glad you came, Kalaki, I’ve been longing for somebody to talk to. It’s such a lonely job here, all by myself. You’re the first visitor to come here since my brother Kasuka visited me about two weeks ago.’

‘All by yourself? I thought you had a huge staff of advisors, administrators, bootlickers, lackeys and so on. And I imagined you had a non-stop queue of visitors looking for jobs, favours and contracts.’

‘I don’t have any staff at all, they’ve all gone.’

‘Gone? What do you mean gone? Where has everybody gone?’

‘Edgar took everybody and everything. He even took the furniture. This desk and two chairs and this bit of carpet are now the only furniture in the entire State House. But I don’t mind, it’s enough for me since I’m here all by myself. I don’t complain.’

‘I must say, I did think it looked rather empty as I walked in. Where’s he taken it all? How can he steal all the furniture? I mean, stealing the constitution was bad enough but stealing all the furniture is intolerable. You must call the police and have him arrested for theft!’

‘You forget, Kalaki, that he appointed the chief of police, the DPP and all the judges. They’re all still working for him.’

‘Just appoint new people. That’s why we had the impeachment, to have a clean sweep and return to the rule of law!’

‘Oh no,’ said Inonge, ‘The constitution wouldn’t allow it. It clearly states that when I take over as president I cannot make any new appointments.’

‘Well, even so,’ I said, ‘you are now the president and you can give the orders, and all these Edgar appointees will now have to click their heels and salute and say Yes Madam President! and do exactly as you say. They are all just mindless yes-men who have been trained to obey instructions irrespective how illegal or stupid. That is their understanding of loyalty. So now is your chance to tell these goons to do something sensible.’

‘Kalaki, I’m disappointed in you, I thought you understood these things better. You have failed to appreciate how far the constitution had been abrogated before I became president. Political power was successfully transferred from the state to the ruling party. In other words the entire country is completely controlled by ruling party police and ruling party cadres. I may be Head of State, but Edgar is the still the ruling party president and therefore Head of Government.’

‘Then you’d just better assert yourself and put things straight. You could at least make a start by ordering a new set of furniture for State House.’

‘You just don’t understand the situation,’ sighed Inonge. ‘ZRA now delivers all government revenue to the new Executive Mansion in Chawama. I suppose you know that the control of government finance was moved from the Ministry of Finance to State House back in the days of RB. But now, after the inconvenience of impeachment, the centre of government has moved to Chawama.’
‘Along with all your staff and furniture! Didn’t they leave you anything?’

‘Only the cockroaches.’

‘What about the impala and the peacocks?’

‘Before they left they all had a big braii and ate the lot. It took me three days to clear out all the empty bottles. The last party-goer didn’t leave until four days later. I opened a cupboard and out he fell. Still drunk.’

‘So you are just sitting here with nothing to do?’

‘I wouldn’t say that’ repled Inonge. ‘I am kept quite busy as state president, although of course my role is strictly ceremonial. I have to attend all state ceremonies such as laying foundation stones, opening school fetes and watching march-pasts. Sometimes I am allowed to read a speech that Edgar has written for me. I always enjoy state funerals and have already laid twenty-four wreaths in my first 100 days.’

Just then the door bell went ding-dong. ‘Oh goody,’ said Inonge as she stood up, ‘another visitor. Two visitors all on the same day! How exciting! Let me go and see who it is.’
Ding-dong!

____________________________

Ding-dong! The bell rang again

‘Wake up! Wake up you lazy lump! Sara was shouting. ‘Didn’t you hear the bell? We’ve got visitors and you are still stinking in bed! Are you dead or what?’

I opened one eye to show that I was still alive. ‘You’ve interrupted me,’ I said. ‘I was in the middle of a strange dream that Inonge was president.’

‘Yes!’ said Sara, ‘Very good! We need more women leaders!’

         

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