Santa column (sorry)

Ho ho ho! We have finally reached that time of the year when little boys and girls across the land begin to dream about a nighttime visit by a man with a low centre of gravity, dressed in a suit of indescribably bad taste. No, not Uncle Gwede! I mean Santa Claus!

Santa Zuma is always so busy. He has to run the toy workshop, manage the elves and choose the right reindeer to pull the sleigh. Finally, he has to deliver millions of gifts.

He used to be good at his job. He understood how to break into a house in the middle of the night. He had so many surveillance systems that he always knew which children really deserved rewards. He had a Very Special Book to help him. No, not the Constitution of SA — don’t be so silly! He used as his guide Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus, the famous management text.

At first, as the book instructed, he listened carefully to the workshop elves. But soon he became friends with the Gupta Goblins. Then he promised Vlad the Impaler all the children’s pocket money in exchange for a new generator.


Without a new Santa, we will move from a state of capture to a state of emergency.

But who should the new Santa be?

Uncle Gwede would get stuck in the chimney, and the reindeer would get very tired pulling him around. The little dwarves, “Dopey” Floyd and “Doc” Mbuyiseni, want Julius to be Santa. But Julius isn’t fat anymore, and only 8% of the children ever use their crayons to write to him. Some silly dwarves even say Santa is a “colonial construct”!

Abominable Blade and “Pointy Ears” Jeremy claim the elves can pull their own sleigh.

But Uncle Cyril has promised a tempting New Deal: “You will all be paid higher wages so that unemployment will go down! My National Development McPlan Meal has already made the country better by 2030!”

Could it instead be time for a White Santa? After all, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly once declared that Santa Claus, like Jesus, really is white. Perhaps Santa Christo can convert his run-down wooden furniture factory into a toy warehouse?

Others say it is time for a woman to become Mother Christmas. Sexists have usually portrayed the female Santa as a Princess in skimpy clothes, possessed by a deep sense of personal entitlement.


But the Roman writer Tacitus reminds us that it was the robust goddess Nerthus (“mother earth”) who first
rode a “sleigh-like wagon” and spread good cheer and peace wherever she went (except Sudan, Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo).

With her “Agenda 2063” plan, Nerthus Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) has already made Africa better by 2063. That is only slightly slower than Cyril, and she has improved the whole continent!

NDZ used to be Mrs Claus, a figure traditionally depicted as a heavy-set old woman, baking cookies and fussing over the elves.

But NDZ’s enemies say she is more likely to fuss over the cookies and put the elves in the oven.

On Saturday morning, Santa Zuma will have his last chance to speak to the assembled magical creatures.

“Ho ho ho!” he will say (or perhaps in his funny, avuncular way, “He he he!”).

“Look in my sack! There is money enough for everyone, if only you vote the right way!”

Leadership Secrets reminds us that Santa exists only because the little girls and boys believe that he does. If the wrong successor is chosen, Santa and the mystical movement that he leads will quickly vanish into thin air.

• Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town.

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