The president’s joke that fell flat

This week the president told a joke that fell flat. Someone, he deadpanned on live TV, had stolen his iPad. Could they return it? Such is the state of the nation – and the fact that he was in the Cape – that some people actually thought some light-fingered charlatan might have filched the national tablet.

But it had just been waylaid. It was all just a joke. The problem was no one wanted to get it. If we learnt anything it’s perhaps that our fellow South African might be a dab hand at the sincere family meeting, he can’t tell a joke. In fairness, maybe it was the timing, he cracked his witty at a time when things we were told were true were all turning out to be absolute jokes.

Where do you start? Piet Rampedi’s ‘decuplets’ which he confessed to his colleagues this week that he never checked because the story seemed too good to be true – and ultimately was? Or could it be the diamond rush in KZN that turned out to be handfuls of quartz? 

As much as there were more than enough moms across the nation thinking WTF to themselves, it would have been as easy to find a couple of gnarly old diggers staring into their Klippies and coke in a Griqualand West pub who could have told you those stones outside Ladysmith were rubbish for less than the price of another round. They might even have bent your ear with a tale or two about other scams beloved of IDB merchants, of which salting claims with lovely ‘goons’ would be the least of it.

The final joke in a trifecta of taking the nation for a push would have to be the Teletubby-in-Thief who now wants to stage super spreader events to force government to licence vaccines from Russia and China – neither of whom have apparently even submitted their vaccines for regulatory approval. 

This is the same person who wanted to close schools only a couple of days ago to stop the current COVID 19 infection rate. Now he wants his ‘ground forces’ to embark on a campaign of civil disobedience against the latest lockdown regulations. We all know why he’s doing it; there are local elections coming up and all his party has managed to do in the last 18 months is rough up shop mannequins and declare war on shampoo.

When you strip it all down to the basics: the national iPad went missing but was found. You can’t say the same for the grannies’ stokvel savings deposited at VBS – as EFF President Floyd Shivambu’s brother has already admitted. As for the diamonds and the decuplets, well they never even existed, which the national Department of Health officially announced this week. But until we stop pandering to the clowns, the joke’s going to be on us every time. 

It’s time to focus on what really matters: the third wave of COVID 19; keep your distance, wear your mask and sanitise because this really isn’t a joke.

Originally published by the Saturday Star on 26 June 2021.