Leaked script: The tragic comedy which is South Africa’s government

A South African cabinet meeting which seems so ridiculous, you’d be forgiven for thinking it really happened.

Draft script

Seconds from Disaster, Episode 132 – South Africa’s Human Riots Culture.

National Geographic Television.

Voice Over: Good evening, everybody. Welcome to a special edition of National Geographic’s Seconds from Disaster.

Background clip: Looters carrying off large flat-screen TVs.

Voice Over: In a massive demonstration of support for South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, these future DStv subscribers (hope you took decoders, too, people!) also struck a blow for freedom from oppressive SABC licence fees. But was this inevitable? Why were the authorities taken by surprise? Did Bheki Cele’s hat help at all during the crisis?

Now, we take you back in time and countdown the seconds as the disaster unfolded, using re-created dramatised scenes; hitherto unheard voice recordings and video clips as well as minutes from meetings of the governing ANC’s cabinet.

Graphic: Seven days to disaster

Voice Over: A meeting of ministers was called at Union Buildings in Pretoria to discuss the imminent arrest of Zuma.

Man in silly glasses and West African dashiki: Comrades, we need a decision on e-tolls to change the narrative.

Grim-faced looking man at head of table: Mbaks, this is serious.

Mbaks: I know, Chief. But the people in Gauteng won’t cause as much trouble as the ones in KZN…

Man in clown hat: There will not be any trouble in KZN. I had tea with uBaba last month and he assured me it would be fine. Besides, nobody has given me any intelligence.

Woman with spy-like face: You can say that again, Bheki. The one thing you don’t have is intelligence. But my people did send you a report.

Man in clown hat who has changed into uniform of police general: Ay! Ay! Ay! Ayanda! – why do you women always cause trouble here? You must respect me because I am a man.

Grim-faced looking man at head of table: Defence minister, what is your assessment?

Woman with kitchen towel on head: Excuse me, Comrade President, I was distracted. I have to arrange an air force plane to fetch some family from shopping in Paris. But, I do not think this involves my portfolio at all. Nothing will happen.

Grim-faced looking man at head of table: Comrade Sisulu, what was your assessment after your fact-finding mission to Nkandla?

Woman in sparkly dress, diamante high heels and pink gloves: Comrade, It was terrible that these people at Nkandla had a cattle grid at the entrance … I couldn’t get in because my heels would have got stuck and I would have fallen and
broken my neck. But, they are all nice people in KZN. They told me so. Also, they think I would make an excellent President. One day, not now Comrade, of course!

Grim-faced looking man at head of table: So, Comrades, it is agreed. Nothing will happen. So we can continue with our work on white privilege as well as civil service pay increases – not forgetting a re-decorating allowance for Cabinet

Graphic: One day to disaster. Clip of Jacob Zuma being taken to jail.

Audio clip: You see, Comrades? Nothing happened. Zuma and his people are trustworthy.

Graphic: Day of Disaster.

Clip of of factories and shopping malls being looted and burned.

Voice over: Even as the catastrophe began, the government was unconcerned.

This was, after all, South Africa’s national winter sport

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