WE had barely recovered from the shock of long and thick bloodworms tumbling out of Wasco taps when some senior official from the company thought it prudent to open his mouth on national TV.
He opened his mouth so wide that Muckraker could see his brains. And indeed when Muckraker peeped in there it was difficult to find anything by way of substance.
Sadly, the official thought he was being smart. That is always the case when someone has a microphone thrust in their face.
That’s what happens when you mistake education for wisdom. There he was, telling us with gusto that the water teeming with worms is safe to drink.
You can boil or strain the water but the worms are harmless, he said with a straight face devoid of any speck of shame.
He was probably right in science because the worms don’t make you sick.
But he was missing the point of the public outrage at the worms-in-water incident.
His gobbledegook was not going to wash with a sceptical public that has learned to take everything that comes from company or senior government officials with a pinch of salt.
Watching the man speaking, Muckraker understood that we always have a huge reservoir of insincerity in this country.
Our supply of insincerity does not come in tanks but a pipeline. We have it in abundance.
Yet that is not what really startled Muckraker. The most dreadful part was not what the man was saying but a little exhibit sitting on his table.
As he preached the virtues of drinking worm-full water, a bottle of purified water sat there for all viewers to see.
So this Wasco official was telling us to drink from taps spewing worms yet he was sipping bottled water. The mismatch between his words and behaviour was staggering. He was clearly oblivious to the fact that he was committing a cardinal sin in public relations and crisis management.
In other words he was saying: I too don’t trust that shitty water but I have to tell you that it’s perfectly safe because I am paid to utter such bunkum.
You may ask what Muckraker expected the man to say or do to make his story believable. Well, this is a simple matter: if you say something is safe then you should partake it.
It’s also a cultural thing. We eat and drink together. If you bring a bucket of hopose to a gathering you must take the first sip before you hand it to the other people.
The idea is that if you have not laced the drink with something toxic then you should have the confidence to take the first sip. It puts everyone else at ease.
To prove his claim the Wasco official should have simply walked to the nearest tap, with the cameraman in tow, filled his glass and drank from it.
But because the issue was now beyond the debate about the water being safe the man should have gone an extra mile.
Remember his message was that worms are harmless. So before coming to the studio the man should have gone to Mpilo reservour and filled a container with bloodworms.
Then he would have deposited some of the worms into a glass full of tap water and gulped it with a smile. Only then were people going to accept that the bloodworms are harmless.
If he was not thirsty he could have just brought papa and bloodworms to the studio. If those worms are not harmless then they should be good enough for relish. The point is that he should have consumed the worms to prove that they are indeed harmless. Imagine the impact of a Wasco man starring into a camera with worms dangling from his mouth while he asks for a toothpick. Mmmmmm, delicious!
There is nothing disgusting with that because there are probably some people who have already gobbled those worms.
Frankly, we don’t know what else should be in our water. We are furious about the bloodworms because we can see them. How about the other little creatures our eyes cannot see?
Muckraker wondered what had informed the official’s statement of TV until a Wasco statement landed in her mailbox.
The source of the message he was trying to foist on the public became clear. The man was merely repeating what the Wasco management had briefed him.
If the man had done a terrible job of selling the Wasco story then the statement took the matter to another level. To be fair, the statement started well.
Muckraker was slightly impressed that Wasco, unlike other state institutions, has accepted responsibility and promised to sort out the mess.
But somewhere along the way things went haywire.
A basic rule in crisis management is that you should only say that which is necessary. You take ownership of the problem and commit to finding a solution.
You then shut up until you have something new to tell the people. In the statement Wasco forgot to zip it.
Somewhere towards the end customers were given a lecture on how to deal with the worms.
“Customers are encouraged to strain and or filter water at their taps if they still observe bloodworms in their supply. While it is not necessary, customers may boil their water,” the statement suggested.
So we are being told to sieve the water at the taps. Muckraker assumes that you can use a cloth or a real sieve.
Obviously Wasco doesn’t think it’s their problem where you get the sieve. Maybe we should take the water to the grinding mill, just to be sure.
But the statement did not end there.
“The Chironimid larvae are harmless and if one is accidentally swallowed it would be as harmless as swallowing an ant. They pose no health risk,” the statement declared.
So there we have it: we are screaming over harmless worms in our water. We should just gulp them because they don’t make us sick. The operative word in the sentence is “accidently”, meaning something that happens by chance.
But when worms are pouring from the tap swallowing the worms cannot be considered accidental. They are in your Oros and food. They are your meal. The thought of your water dashed with worms is revolting.
The most fascinating part though is the comparison with swallowing an ant. Yes ants are harmless but we don’t go around swallowing them.
Wasco is a water company not a worm company. To suggest that we should swallow worms in the water because they are harmless is to be arrogant.
It’s like a hotel telling you to calm down when you see a mosquito in your food because the insect is not harmful when swallowed. It is to miss the real reason why people are disgusted.
The point is that water should not have worms. Muckraker sees the hand of a decent public relations manager in the statement but suspects someone in the high office tried to be too clever by half.
It is clear that the part about the worms being harmless and ants came from someone who knows zilch about public relations. It is those excitable fingers that messed up an otherwise good statement.
Next time Wasco bosses should stick to their roles of delivering clean and safe water to the people.
They should stay away from the camera and statements when there is a crisis to explain to the public.
Let them take korobela
Nqosa Mahao has pulled a fast one on his opposition comrades to join Uncle Sam’s government. Muckraker suspected the bromance among the opposition leaders would end in tears but never expected Mahao to do the betraying. The lesson is that there is no honour among politicians and everyone has a price. The BAP’s price is two cabinet seats and some morsels to be flung its way here and there.
The opposition is furious at Mahao for stringing them along for three weeks while Uncle Sam whispered sweet little things in his ears.
They say Mahao attended their nocturnal meetings to plot Uncle Sam’s demise but was busy with a plan to get himself a mok’huk’hu in the government.
Their screams of anger are hypocritical. They too would have been charmed for the right price. Mahao just happened to have yielded earlier than them. None of them can claim that they were not approached by the RFP or its dealmakers.
No one could claim that they refused the RFP’s marriage proposal because they differed on ideology and principle. The only sticking issue was what was offered and what they thought their support was worthy. So let’s bin the hypocrisy and confirm that some of them overreached and overestimated their value by holding out for more spoils. It’s not their business if Mahao sold himself too cheap.
He was smart enough to understand that the market of political support was already flooded. That is being pragmatic.
In the end, it was a simple matter of demand and supply. Uncle Sam played the game well by lodging a scarecrow of a court case to delay the vote of no confidence to buy himself time. That blindsided the opposition leaders and allowed Uncle Sam to counterattack.
So while Lehata was laughing like a hyena in parliament and the opposition congregated at the BNP Centre for drinks Uncle Sam was cooking some delicious dish across town. It was only a matter of time before the aroma reached the politicians’ noses.
So while they were claiming to be united most of them were busy receiving calls to hear what was on the menu. It was a buffet of embassies and cabinet seats. The desserts were deputy minister positions and some small jobs for hungry supporters. The only problem with some of the opposition leaders was that they wanted to eat the whole buffet, including Uncle Sam’s portion.
Meanwhile, Uncle Sam was busy gauging what was enough to satiate the hungriest among the opposition leaders. In the end, he knew he didn’t have to part with much to get the deal and the numbers he wanted. Some politicians are saying Mahao could have asked for more because Uncle Sam was desperate and cornered. Not true!
Your tomatoes do not cost more simply because you worked hard to produce them or you think they are special. It’s the market that decides.
To get more for them you should get the timing right. The same applies to political support. Uncle Sam knew the market of political support would be oversupplied if he waited a few days before buying.
By the time he came to the market the available political support was about to rot and everyone was willing to sell at a huge discount. This is common sense but some opposition leaders want to pretend Mahao ambushed them by selling fast.
Muckraker suggests that next time they plot against Uncle Sam, the opposition leaders should visit a sangoma to give them all a huge dose of korobela so that none is tempted to find another lover. The best love portion comes from the North of us. Mwa, mwa, mwa!
How to share a stolen goat
Those who think Uncle Sam is now safe from the barbarians at the gates are naïve. Mahao’s defection is a temporary setback from which the opposition leaders are plotting to recover.
They are coming because Uncle Sam is holding something they cannot live without: power.
And they will not rest until they get it. Those who believe this fight is based on principle and ideology are unmitigated dimwits. Their claim that Uncle Sam’s government has failed is just a cover to justify their plot. They know they would not do a better job.
Everyone knows that because they have seen their epic bungling when they had a chance to rule.
The notoriety of their thievery, corruption, deliberate mismanagement and nepotism precedes them. They say Uncle Sam has failed to implement his party’s campaign promises but forget that some of them failed several times. If this was about ideology and principle it would reflect in the negotiations for coalitions. In countries where politicians still have morsels of self-respect and specks of shame, such negotiations would be dominated by ideological and policy considerations.
Political parties try to find some common ground on fundamental issues like the economy, education, climate change, trade and foreign policy.
Our rascals here talk about ministerial and diplomatic positions as if they are sharing a stolen goat; I want the head, give me likahare.
My ancestors said I should always eat the testicles. Give me the liver, I don’t have teeth. The heart is my favourite. In a way, our government is like a stolen goat being shared by thieves. Ba ja maleo.
It’s a fat goat stolen from Basotho. The politicians will eat it and not leave even the skin for Basotho to make a mat to lay on when hungry. The thieves are eating while the people watch.
Yet we people never tire to give the politicians the permission to rob and pee on them.
It’s tempting to say we deserve it but no one, not even the Devil, deserves the politicians we have in this country. Some say there is hell somewhere. Muckraker says we are already in a hell of some sort created by our politicians. We are being roasted slowly by politicians and they will never stop.
Does that make you feel depressed and hopeless? Well, you are not alone. There are worse places on this earth. Does that mean we should accept tosh because there is worse tosh in other places?
Well, it’s your choice.
Muckraker wishes you a wet weekend. Let’s hope Uncle Sam throws us a party to celebrate his great escape. You marched for him, didn’t you?
A beer is what you deserve for sweating from Maseru Mall to parliament.
Give Lehata a Bell’s
Mootsi Lehata behaved like a clown in parliament last week. Laughing like he was in a shebeen. Spewing insults as if someone had stolen his goats. He even used the ‘F’ word on Lejone Mpotjoane.
“Moshanyana enoa a se ke a ntella. Se ke oa ntella sonny, f**k you,” he said in response to Mpotjoane. Muckraker doesn’t know Mpotjoane to be a moshanyana. What she knows is what Lehata did to a ngoanana a few years ago.
The girl dropped the rape case on the condition that Lehata builds her a house and pays for the child’s upkeep. So ke eena ea tellang molao. Some might say it’s water under the bridge but Muckraker doesn’t forgive. Never!
For now, we should talk about his monkeyshines in parliament. He looked high on something. Lehata can however deny it. He can say he was shaking because he had spent sleepless nights plotting to topple Uncle Sam. He can claim he was shaking with excitement at the prospect of becoming a minister again. If that doesn’t cut it he can say wasn’t drunk but just suffering from a hangover.
That might work because he could say those who say he was drunk on that Monday should have seen him on Sunday. He could claim he was still suffering the effects of knocking down several bottles taller than him.
But whatever happens, no one can prove that he was high.
Yes, a test could have revealed that he had blood in his alcohol but that is now beside the point because it didn’t happen. In any case, Muckraker has seen worse things in parliament. Remember how some MPs spanked each other a few years ago?
Chairs and bins were given wings. An MP was once captured on camera groping another.
As for insults, worse things have been said. Some of the MPs don’t need to be insulted to feel humiliated. Imagine how it feels to be an LCD MP.
You see it in their faces that they are beating themselves.
No wonder they are not even mentioned as part of the opposition. They are not in opposition, not government and not in the crossbench. They are there, somewhere there.
Muckraker would not sleep well if she ended these musings without mentioning one small thing. During the debate on Lehata’s tomfoolery, one opposition MP said the Speaker should protect MPs so that their images are not manipulated to tarnish their reputation. Yeah, right!
You must have a reputation first for it to be tarnished. Muckraker and 98.9 percent of Basotho know 99 percent of our MPs to be freeloading, greedy and power-hungry charlatans.
That is their reputation. Those who say our MPs are honest and hardworking are tarnishing that sterling reputation.
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