Lies, prophets and bunkum

Lies, prophets and bunkum

muckcrakerQUEEN ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) is in the news again. There is nothing worse than an institution being called a money-making scheme gouging a poor country.  The politicians didn’t use those words but that is precisely what they meant.

They might as well have screamed: Thief!

The hospital just won’t leave the headlines no matter how much spin-doctoring is done to change the tone of the coverage and pull wool over our eyes. It’s stuck on the headlines like the coalition government is to TKK.

It must be horrible being the hospital’s spokesperson in these troubled times. Limpho Seeiso, who is paid to defend the hospital, is now getting her hands dirty.

Indeed, she is now doing some real work for her pay cheque. Good for her.

For a long time she thought her job was to write press statements and invite journalists to some feel-good events.

The bad publicity has thrown her to the deep-end and it’s as clear as a pig’s nose that this is new territory for her. Muckraker hopes the cute sister won’t drown.

This week she put on a strong performance with a robust response to allegations that have been flying over the place. A newspaper was generous enough to give her acres of space to tell her story and she used it decently well.

The only problem is that she forgot to keep her response short and to the point. So in the end she started waffling, forgetting that a message must always be short for it to have an impact. She went for length rather than substance.

If the trick was to bury the readers in an avalanche of information she would have passed the test with flying colours. But she was trying to communicate a delicate message to a people whose attention span is as short as that of a five-year-old. Still that would not have mattered had she not tried to use the same old narrative that has been used to shower praises in the hospital and justify its existence.

It has become irritatingly predictable that every propaganda job from Netcare comes with a long list of statistics showing that QMMH is doing far much better than Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, its predecessor.

You can always bet your last penny that you will be told that fewer children are dying at the new hospital. They will tell you that the mortality among in-patients is far much lower than it was at the old hospital.

Muckraker thinks the statistics are just a heap of dog manure. First, Queen II is a very low standard on which QMMH can measure itself. Comparing the two hospitals is patently unfair because Queen II was more than 100 years when it was closed. Its buildings were falling apart and the basic equipment was rotting.

QMMH is five years old, has been built with M1,2 billion and is operated by a private company. To compare the two so as to prop up QMMH is scandalous and a few inches short of being dishonest.

Netcare also likes to brag that its surveys show that patients are happier at QMMH than they were at Queen II. And where does the data to support this come from? Well, Netcare gathers the data from the patients, analyse it before touting it like gospel truth to anyone who cares to listen.  So Netcare is in charge of both the collection of the data and its analyses.

Netcare must think this country is full of dunderheads. We all know that such surveys can be manipulated. In fact Muckraker is believes that the data is being cooked up. There, I said it! I will say it again tomorrow.

Yet that is not the only reason Muckraker thinks the surveys are just hot air. Many people will tell you horror stories about their time at the hospital. Relatives tell scary stories of how their loved ones spend hours waiting for a doctor at the hospital.

Some nurses are rude and some doctors hopelessly incompetent. Muckraker has come face-to-face with the shoddy service at the hospital. Another sugar-coated tosh from the hospital and Muckraker will tell all.

 

Muckraker has always had an uncanny ability to smell suckers from miles away. The Almighty has gifted her with a rare talent to instinctively detect mediocrity.

So she was not shocked when a politician she has always thought could be a brilliant candidate for a dustbin landlord opened his mouth in parliament last week. Tlali Khasu, the deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), is the subject here.

That he is a political turncoat is not a matter for discussion. The debate was settled years ago when he changed political colours sooner than Size Two could say another Sesotho idiom.

Muckraker did not say much about Khasu at that time because, if truth be told, the man has a right to sleep in a political bed of his choice. But soon the political gods started smiling on him and in no time he was Uncle Tom’s assistant.

That spectacular rise was not due to any brilliance. The man just happened to be there when positions where parcelled out. The only prerequisite was that you had to have a slower head than that of Uncle Tom.

Uncle Tom likes to surround himself with pliable people who have no political clout. That way he gets to do as he pleases with the party while his helpers ululate with vim.

Khasu looked like a jester at Uncle Tom’s political court from the day he was appointed.

Once again Muckraker did not say keep the rod in a skirt for she sincerely believed Uncle Tom’s political smarts would rub off on Khasu. But after a few years Khasu remained the same old Khasu Muckraker has always known.

This week he stood up in parliament to utter some irritating noise. His suggestion was that the government should start taxing those who have houses. Muckraker almost fell off the chair when she head Khasu’s statement.

For a start there is nothing new in the suggestion. Landlords have always been taxed.  It’s just that some have not been complying. That Khasu does not know this is an indication of two things: either he is genuinely ignorant or if he is a landlord he has not been paying his taxes.

How else can he explain his guts to suggest that the government does what it has been doing for years?

 

If we assume that Tlali Khasu did not know about the existing tax and he just got a Eureka moment while in the shower then we are dealing with an overrated blabbermouth.

Khasu thinks the government is broke because Basotho who put him in parliament are not taxed enough. Such gobbledegook is maddening.

It is shocking that Khasu drove all the way up to the parliament building to suggest new ways of taxing the people, never mind that the tax he was advocating exists already (He thought it was new). You see, countries don’t grow by taxing people but increasing the number of people taxed by creating an environment for companies to thrive and create jobs.

Basotho are already being taxed blind. It is clear that the taxman is going after people’s pockets with unprecedented gusto.

Yet Khasu thinks even this merciless extraction from people’s pockets is not enough. Only a politician with a short circuit in the head would come up with such an anti-people policy.

Curiously Khasu did not suggest the crackpot idea when he was in Uncle Tom’s government. You know there is a famine of innovative ideas when an opposition leader starts dreaming up ways to hit citizens with new taxes.

In a way he is slapping the very hand feeding him. Even donkeys in Qaqathu know that the ABC is supported by urban dwellers, some of who happen to own houses.

Muckraker would like to remind Khasu that he does not work for the taxman but the people. If he has run out of things to prove that he is relevant then he must just whistle.

 

What the government should tax are the happy-clappy churches led by self-proclaimed prophets. A long time ago these prophets were just a nuisance, a noisemaking bunch with fancy haircuts and shiny suits.

But of late they are going after people’s monies by making outlandish promises of riches and healing.

One of them claims to have healed several people of HIV. He makes that claim with a straight face. Others claim to have the powers to help make you a millionaire.

The way to make the millions is by giving them the little you have.

Sadly such bunkum always finds buyers among the gullible. Common-sense, it would seem, does not matter. Some bearded men and breasted women flock before the prophets, most of whom have no qualification to their name. Just school dropouts making up tosh as they go.

If you want to make an instant enemy tell the followers that their prophet is a wretched thief masquerading as a man of God.

“That’s blasphemy,” they will scream with their eyes crimson with anger.

Ask them why their pastor collects money from them if he has the ability to make millionaires out of church mice and they will tell you “touch not the anointed”.

Ask them how come none of their pastors have professional jobs and they will say “they are doing God’s work”.

Remind them that their church does not have accounts that are audited and they will roll up their sleeves, ready for a fight.

The so-called prophets speak like they just had lunch with God. It’s as if God is their colleague. God told me last night! God spoke to me this morning! God revealed to me last week! God gave me a vision! And they do it while screaming, shouting and jumping like they are high on something illegal.

Then after the tomfoolery they remind you of the importance of giving. Giving to who?  To them! That is the whole point of their dramatic ways in the first place.

The church is now an ATM. Whole men and whole women rummage through their wallets for money. Muckraker knows men and women who literally worship such prophets. Common sense is not so common after all.

 

Muckraker had a chuckle after reading an article about awards the Ministry of Health dished out to reporters recently. Phew!  They were being awarded for run of the mill stories they published a few months ago.

Muckraker went through the stories and found nothing illuminating about them. Just the same old thump-sucking drivel.

Apart from Pascalina Kabi’s, story which was decent, the rest just announcements devoid of any research or any spectacular prose.

They were being rewarded for saying things we already know. Which brings me to the question: how low have our journalism standards sank that we can reward such mundane stories?

But hey, they tried. Still on journalism Muckraker would like to warn a certain newspaper about stealing stories.

Last week, the weekly regurgitated a story that appeared in thepost some months ago. Last year, to be precise. The only new thing in their story was the date of publication. Muckraker will not be so lenient next time.

The same applies to some journalist whose quotations sounds strikingly similar to what they think and how they write. Last week Muckraker saw a quotation that sounded like it was from a certain journalist whose prose and thoughts she knows every week.

The words were attributed to an anonymous economist in a story talking about some conditions the United States had set for Lesotho to get aid.

“In light of the current national disaster induced by devastating drought and because of all the uncertainties on the economic front due to global factors and other circumstances beyond our control, we need every loti we can get from whomsoever to foster fiscal stability and feed Basotho,” said the economist who refused to be named.

“The ball thus rests in the government’s court in terms of mollifying and maintaining the support of the country’s development partners…”

If that quotation came from a real economist working for the government as the newspaper claims then we are in deep trouble. But we don’t have to go that far because that quotation was not said by an economist.

No economist worth his salt would utter such drivel. Those, Muckraker is sure, are the words of a journalist. Not the journalist who wrote the story but the person who put his fingers in the story before it went to print.

Ichu!!!

 

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