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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Zimbabwe’ Category

An open letter to Gideon Gono


With the top job at the International Monetary Fund up for grabs – thanks to the quintessentially Gallic behaviour of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’t-take-no-for-an-answer – I hope you have applied for the position. I can’t think of a better candidate.

Did you know your name means “Destroyer” in Hebrew? Your mother must have been a visionary, because you have done a magnificent job of destroying Zimbabwe’s economy. Please don’t take this as criticism. African economies function much like fynbos – every few years they have to be razed to the ground so they may flourish anew.

Your name will go down in history as the man who, in the space of a few weeks, turned every Zimbabwean into a billionaire. You should have been hailed as a hero. Instead, people blamed you for everything from food and fuel shortages to covertly debriefing President Mugabe’s enchanting wife, Grace. Hell, who cares what they think! Let them eat snake. The important thing is that you weren’t shoved up against a wall and shot 13 times in the head. A very forgiving man, that Mr Mugabe.

When your critics ask you about hyperinflation, tell them it is no more serious than hypertension. Give them some aspirin and tell them to get lots of rest. Preferably in a homeless shelter in Joburg.

There’s one thing I need to say, though. I think you should bring the Zim dollar back. What’s the point of being governor of the Reserve Bank if anyone can wander across your border with a bag of Israeli shekels or a pocketful of Polish zlotys and buy whatever they like? A country without its own currency is like a Porsche without petrol. It might look good standing there, but it’s not going to get very far.

God-forsaken hellholes like Guam and Kiribati don’t have their own currency. Do you want to be known as the Guam of Africa?

I hear you want to introduce something called a “gold-backed Zimbabwe dollar”. To be honest, I’m not sure it would work. A friend of mine from Harare, Somnolent Molokele, said he thought the temptation to scrape off the gold and throw the note away would be too much for most people. Nice idea, though. Just a bit impractical for a country like yours.

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Robert “Mephistopheles” Mugabe: a Faustian fable

One dark and stormy night, an equally dark and stormy man with the curious name of Robert “Mephistopheles” Mugabe was warming his hands over a pile of burning orphans when it occurred to him that he had become bored with his life.

He was sated with the suffering of others. He had grown weary of the weeping and the moaning of the sick and the starving.

He put on his invisible cloak and wandered among the destitute masses. This time, the misery failed to cheer him up. While pondering the possibility that his malaise was caused by a mid-life crisis — he was, after all, 2000 years old (a mere 85 in human terms) — he was interrupted by the appearance of a much younger man going by the name of Morgan “Faust” Tsvangirai.

Mephisto, of course, already knew who he was. Mephisto made a point of knowing everything about anything. “Knowledge,” he would remind himself , “is power.”

Faust also knew this, sort of, but no matter how much he learned, true power remained beyond his grasp. He had turned to eating and drinking and soon he was double the size as when he began his quest for power.

Mephistopheles shed his invisible cloak and tapped Faust on the shoulder. The younger man fell to his knees and shielded his face with his arms, for that was what one did when confronted by pure evil.

But this time Mephisto was offering something more than the usual torture and imprisonment. With a magnanimous wave of his bony old hand, he invited Faust to join him in ruling what little remained of the country. Faust was understandably suspicious. After all, Mephisto was a wily old coyote who would sell his own children if the currency weren’t so utterly worthless.

Then again, there was something about the words “prime minister” that Faust found irresistible. They reminded him of something. What was it?

Ah, yes. Power. That was it.

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Grace Mugabe: in Perfect Mental Health

From: Professor Benjamin Trovato
Sent: 30 January 2009 07:56 PM
To: His Excellency President Robert Mugabe

Dear Mr President,

As per your request, I examined your wife, Grace, upon her recent return from China and may I say what a lovely woman she is. You are a very lucky man.

Having said that, however, I would be failing in my duty if I did not admit to having detected one or two interesting anomalies in her psychiatric make-up.

While Grace admits to having attacked a man upon leaving a Hong Kong shopping mall, she maintains that she was stricken by an episode of snow blindness and mistook the photographer for a Ninja assassin working for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

I find her version of events entirely plausible. History has shown us that the Chinese cannot be trusted. You only have to ask the Japanese. Or place an order at my local takeaway. You ask for stir-fried shrimp and they give you chicken that smells like fish. But I digress.

During our session, Grace used her lipstick to draw several organograms on my office wall, proving that the triads are controlled by the House of Lords. This makes perfect sense given that Britain ruled Hong Kong with an iron fist for 150 years.

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