The command centre of feasting

The command centre of feasting

THE year is 2040 and a former minister is on a rocking chair in his garden. His massive tummy is playing seesaw as the chair swings. His shirt is bursting at the seams. The feet are swollen.
He cannot recall the last time when he walked without a stick. His weight is suffocating him.

A grandchild creeps to his side and startles him as he loudly snores.
“Grandpa, when are you giving birth?” asks the boy.
“Mmmmm?” the old man answers as he slowly comes out of his slumber.
“I thought there was a baby in that belly, so I am asking when you are giving birth”.

The old man groans as he sits and wipes the saliva dangling from his thick lip.
He shifts the tummy to the side, lifts the young boy to his thighs, clears the throat and starts telling the story of how the overwhelming tummy visited and refused to leave.
Here it goes.

“It all began in March 2020 when Covid-19 hit the world and the government created a command centre to coordinate a national response to the disease. But instead of working on testing our people, educating them about the disease and feeding the poor, ministers at the centre started eating like we were possessed. Son, I have never had so much food in my life. And so we ate, ate and ate. For three months all we did was eat, sleep and fart. Occasionally, we had some useless meetings but the real business there was to eat.

“By the time the command centre was disbanded I had ballooned from size 32 to 44.  Believe me, I have starved myself for weeks but nothing is changing. That, my grandson, is how I got this tummy.”
The little boy looks at his grandfather’s rotund face in amazement.
“So this belly is your punishment for eating like a pig while your people were starving?” he asks.

The old man shifts again and wipes a little tear from his face.
“That could be true. We had no right to be eating that much in that crisis,” the old man says. 
The shame of it all makes him sad. He had just confessed his sins.
There is a moment of silence before the boy starts nodding slowly.
“Ok, now I see why mum says eating too much is a sin.”  

Muckraker is no prophet but she can assure you that some of the ministers pretending to be on national duty at the command centre today will have that conversation.
Three months of such unbridled gormandizing will not go unpunished. No one has ever had so much food and remained the same. The waist lines will show in years to come.

It’s a pity that the likes of Moramotse are already gifted with potbellies. This feeding frenzy will only exacerbate the damage to his structure. It doesn’t help that he likes the bottle so much that he is now smuggling it from Chinese shops.

Believe Muckraker when she says this gluttony will not end well.
Already some ministers who were emaciated are looking chubby.
Nobody can remain the same after consuming M650 worth of papa, meat, chakalaka, samp, rice and beetroot nonstop for 90 days.

If their genes will not react then the ancestors of the starving masses in Qaqatu and Mafube will work their magic to fatten their bellies. There is a price for such shameless greed.
May those stuffing their mouths at the centre in this crisis be fat like Sumo wrestlers. May they look like pigs.
Since mid-March, Muckraker has been counting days before the mad shindig at Manthabiseng Convention Centre was exposed. Nothing stays hidden forever. Thankfully someone at the centre had the sense to leak the budget that exposed the piggishness and corruption before it was too late.

Now we know that the 70 people we assigned to look after our affairs in this crisis are nothing but overrated lazybones loading their bellies. Witchcraft is eating a M250 meal when your starving people are locked in their houses.
The mathematics of it all is shuddering. This is the same government that said factory workers will get M850 per month during the lockdown that has closed their factories.

Yet each person at the command centre is eating M650 every day. As Muckraker writes this the government is yet to deliver a single food package but people at the centre think it’s right to be consuming so much.
Let’s get the arithmetic right so we get to the bottom of this shameless spectacle.

The M250 is what a five-star hotel in Lesotho charges for a meal. The budget shows that those who got the catering tender are charging M120 for a cup of tea for each of the 70 people pretending to be busy at the centre.
They can rationalise it all they want but the truth is that tea is just hot Wasco water, a few spoons of sugar and a tea bag. The sandwiches are just Shoprite bread, some cheap cheese and eggs.
Nothing there amounts to M120.

You would think some ministers will be hiding in shame after this sleaze was exposed but things don’t work that way in this little place of ours.
Instead, the ministers are in a stampede to defend this criminal behaviour. They hurriedly organised a press conference to justify their monkey business. Now they are telling us that the leaked document was “just a budget”. Their logic being that those numbers changed along the way.
Anyone with even a morsel of brain will tell you that this is just balderdash to be told to donkeys, not humans.

There is absolutely no way any caterer would charge far less than what the government has budgeted.
It is well known, even to cockroaches, that budgets in this country are leaked to bidding companies.

What the ministers should be telling us is that the caterers are not eating alone. It is true that those companies will not keep the M7 million to themselves because a lot of rascals will get their cuts.
That is how this government works. You overcharge and then give kickbacks to those who made the deal possible. One minister who speaks with an American accent but has zero substance had the nerve to say we should be grateful because the food bill is not even one percent of the total budget.

Such wreaking tosh can only be spewed by someone high on something illegal. It is not the percentage of the budget that matters but how the money is being used.
Just because you have scattered thumb-sucked figures on a spreadsheet doesn’t justify expenditure.  
That seven million flowing into the septic tank at the command centre is enough to test nearly 5000 people for Covid-19. You can give a M1000 to 7000 families whose livelihoods have been affected by the lockdown. It can help restart hundreds of small businesses that are on the brink of bankruptcy.

You have to be callous and demented to defend such brazen opulence.
It takes a sired conscience to justify eating M650 a day when the government pays less than M20 to feed a primary school kid. The idea that just because an amount is mentioned in the budget means it should be used is doubly stupid. The same goes for the inane idea that we should not be worried about expenditure as long as it’s a minute portion of the total budget.

You don’t have to be smart to understand this simple fact. No degree needed. You just have to be a reasonable person with a sense of proportion. You cannot eat pizza when your children are starving. Only a silly excuse of a minister can justify such madness.
Now you have people who have never paid for a hotel meal in their lives eating hotel meals for months.

People who have always carried lunchboxes full of papa and eggs are now swimming in mutton, fish and pork ribs.
But the nonsense goes further than the ministers labouring to defend the lavishness.

Instead of cutting back on their excesses they are shrieking that the budget was leaked. A witch-hunt has thus begun. The leaker, not the eaters, is now the criminal.
Talk about chasing a rat when the house is burning.
Only in Lesotho are whistleblowers worse criminals than the thieves they expose. That shows how much we have lost the moral compass. It illustrates that we have sorry excuses for ministers and a government.
This Covid-19 crisis has proven beyond doubt that we have a dud government.

It is hilarious that the same government is fighting to remain in office even when its penchant for bungling is legendary.
All this leads to a quiz question.
Why is the government still open when the lockdown rules say only institutions providing essential services should be working?

Why is the command centre still open when it doesn’t do much apart from issuing shabbily written press statements? Why, why, why?
The answer is in your empty cupboard. Those half-full empty packets of mealie-meal and rice are the reason why this command centre is still in business. Phew!

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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