‘Take him away! I will not let him spoil this celebration!” The man with the strangely textured and coloured face, long nose and funny hat watched as camouflage-wearing members of the MK Military Veterans Association grabbed the old carpenter by his scrawny arms and frog-marched him out of the vast lounge.
Gepetto wasn’t invited, thought Pinocchio. He was just a bloody agent of white monopoly capital, always going on about state capture and trying to delay radical economic transformation. Pinocchio looked towards the crowd swamping the buffet tables. Well, that was understandable: it is our time to eat …
Pinocchio’s chest swelled with pride as he considered his achievements. The College for Creative Explanations had been his brainchild: using his expertise in spin-doctoring (some called it lying, but that was such a common term, he thought) to help South Africans maximise their natural talent for escape and evasion. It was very satisfying to have all the alumni here in Saxonwold (thank you, Atul) for the class reunion.
“Colonel Molefe!” he shouted, “I’ve got your Blue Label over here! Don’t worry, we’ve got a generator!”
The classes had been arduous, particularly when it came to practising “looking gormless with a straight face” in front of the microphones and cameras. That was a tough one, because one or two of the comrades displayed the odd twinges of conscience. Most of that, though, was cured by a few trips to the Oberoi Hotel in Dubai (thanks Rajesh and Ashu).
There was a commotion of Ray Bans at the door and the wave of bodyguards flowed out from the BMW X5s in the driveway. “Baba! Welcome!” From a mere student, Number One had shown such natural talent for subterfuge and misdirection – and shown such a willingness to learn (whether it was from Stalin or Bell Pottinger) – that Pinocchio had no hesitation in making him the patron of the college.
Baba’s eleventy million thousand ways of going off on a tangent with questions were truly inspired, as was the “heh, heh, heh”. Just the sort of “muendos” Pinocchio decided to incorporate into the next course at the college.
There were others here who had gone on to great heights. He didn’t know why Riah Phiyega was looking sullenly at the puff pastries on her plate. Pinocchio rated her explanation of the “fire pool” at Nkandla as inspired, as was her straight-faced assertion that it was “wellknown” that people in rural areas used buckets to put out fires.
Ben Martins was chatting amiably to Joe Maswanganyi. The latter was so smooth that hardly anything accurate ever came out of his mouth but Martins had only recently been putting his college training to work in his denial of the meeting with the Guptas.
Ah! There she was, a little late and a little tired from those late nights in parliament, but she made it. He called everyone to order.
“Everybody – our guest of honour!” “Ms Brown! I am so glad you made it!” Pinocchio went on: “What a great line! – ‘I don’t think I’m lying’ … that’s a classic m’am!” He wiggled uncomfortably. His nose had started to grow.