ANTHONY BUTLER: Santa Cyril had better start delivering the goodies
If he doesn’t, little boys and girls across the land will stop believing in him
Ho ho ho! We have reached that time in the year when the little boys and girls across the land look forward to a visit by a fat man in a red suit carrying a sack of shiny presents.
Santa has the hardest job in the world. He runs the workshop where the toys are made, oversees the elves who do the work, and trains the reindeer that pull his sleigh. He has to deliver millions of gifts to almost impossible deadlines.
Recently the little children have been very sad. Grumpy Santa Thabo didn’t like giving gifts at all, and Santa Jacob gave all the best presents to his friends and relatives. Nerthus (“mother earth”) Dlamini-Zuma rode a sleigh all the way from Addis to save us, but somehow we got Chinese Santa Cyrildene instead.
Father Christmas has to be very round and jolly, and silly folk once said Cyril was too thin to do the job. He always used to stand next to Gwede “Low Centre of Gravity” Mantashe, the Reindeer Not Responsible For Energy After All. Because of the so-called “moon illusion”, Mantashe appeared gigantic when he was close to the horizon, which made Cyril look skinny by comparison. But now Uncle Gwede has got stuck in the chimney while trying to fix the Medupi generator Cyril’s supposed rivals, such as Lindiwe “I’m a real Princess” Sisulu, and the three skinny dwarves, “DD”, Paul and Zweli, are all much too thin to be real Santas.
Santa Zuma’s friends have been sent to a correctional facility by the sea, called “Bosasa Parliamentary Precinct”. Bongani “big bottom” Bongo, Faith Mutant, Mostbendy Zany and Tina “Swedish Moneybags” Pettersson have become “committee chairpersons”. This means they sit on chairs all day long and aren’t allowed to do anything. Ho ho ho!
The little boys and girls are likely to be disappointed once again this year. Their favourite uncle or aunt, Mbaks “Zandile Gumede” Mbalula, doesn’t love them any more.
The gender-balanced children’s leadership, Julius and Floydinia, wrote a manifesto with their crayons that turned out to be political correctness gone mad!
Now they have a new “Top Six”: themselves plus four little boys and girls nobody has ever heard of, called Poppy, Omphy, Marshy and Veronica. Everyone with more than 100 Twitter followers has been sacked. Like “Doc” the Ice Boy, all the little children now have to kneel down before Big Julius. But what will they all do when the Top Two go to jail?
Santa Cyril’s biggest problem is getting the job done. The old factory management dwarf, Rob “pointy ears” Davies, has retired (to the 1970s). But Santa has replaced him with Ebrahim “pointy ears” Patel, who has just the same ears, and ideas.
The new Reindeerial Handbook hasn’t really cut the cost of sleighs, and the National Development McPlan Meal has gone cold. Meanwhile, the elves are growing restless. Since last Christmas, Santa has been paying them the Very Minimal Wage to make unemployment go down, but amazingly this has not worked! Now the crazy elves want Santa to raid their own piggy bank, the Piggies Investment Corporation, to keep the Goblin Run Enterprises going.
But Pravin Goblin, the previous Keeper of the Golden Chest, still does not know how to fix the generator. In fact, Snoozy Zondo’s Cover-Up Commission, fuelled by gazillions in lawyers’ fees, has produced far more hot air.
Santa exists only because the little children believe that he does. If he doesn’t get a move on and set the generator, the factory and the reindeer in motion, little boys and girls across the land will at long last stop believing in him. Then Santa, and the magical movement that he leads, will simply disappear into thin air.
• Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town.