Arthur Goldstuck
Arthur Goldstuck

The diary of President Ivy

Exclusive: The 12 hours of the Matsepe-Casaburri presidency, revealed through the acting president’s diary

September 25, midnight: Yippee!!! I’m the president! No, the President, with a capital P! No one can stop me now! I’m so happy I could change a law!
12.01am: Just heard my first President Matsepe-Casaburri joke from the Internet. Q: What are the four scariest words in South African politics? A: President Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. That’s such an old joke and it’s not even funny. I heard it about President Zuma and about President Bush and about President Yeltsin and about President Eisenhower … Anyway, it’s three words, not four, so I really don’t understand what they’re going on about. Someone should ban the internet. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do first. Oh, I love being president. I mean President.

12.02am: Banned the internet. Now they want to know if it’s still the internet if it’s on a cellphone. Of course not! Cellphones don’t come from Internet service providers. But thanks for reminding me. Better ban them too, before they find a sneaky ISP-type loophole.

12.03am: Banned those nasty ISPs. Who do they think they are, anyway? Constitutional rights this, universal access that, and what do I get out of them? Just more moaning and complaining, not a single offer of a directorship after my term is over and always bleating about spectrum allocation. Let them try it if they’re so clever.

12.05am: Told Lyndall she could have all the ISPs and share them among her friends. She’s so ungrateful. She says she’s already divided all of them up between her and Andile. Why am I always the last to hear about these things?

12.15: Took just ten minutes to come up with a new telecommunications law. A new personal record! They wanted an effective president, well they got one. Here’s what it says:

* We don’t need no second network operator, so Neotel’s network is going to be mothballed. Their broadband sucks anyway and just look what they did to our roads. We’ll make Neotel part of the Roads Agency. That way we kill the skills shortage and the roadworks problem in one stroke.
* Jokes about why didn’t the signal cross the road are banned with immediate effect. Since the telecoms regulator will no longer be required to regulate, Icasa will be given responsibility for enforcing the ban against jokes about signals crossing roads.
* We’re taking back all of Telkom. What’s with this privatisation fad anyway? It’s so 2003. And when last did the New York Stock Exchange do anything for South Africans?
* That’s enough new telecoms law for now. I’ll make up more as I go along.

12.30am: Just thought of another one. Anyone will be allowed to build their own network if they want to. Competition is good for the country. I read it in one of my old speeches.

12.31am: No, wait, that sound so 2004. I’ve changed my mind.

12.32am: Actually, it might not be such a bad idea after all. Turns out that was in a lot of my speeches.

12.33am: That was Telkom on the phone. They threatened to stand idly by while the phone cables are stolen outside my house. They wouldn’t! Would they?? Okay, then, no competition.

12.35am: Vodacom on the line this time. They said I don’t need cables for my cellphone. What will they think of next?

12.37:30secs am: Thought about this long and hard, and I think competition in its own right, among those who agree to be in competition with each other, as long as they have a veto right over the competition’s right to compete, will be allowed to compete. Or something.

12.38am: Bill Venter on the line to thank me. How did he get my private number? And he obviously misunderstood. I didn’t say I would allow competition, did I? Oh boy, this is going to be a long presidency. I’m going to have a short nap. I’ll decide what my decision was when I wake up.

11.30am: What??? 11.30am????? Why didn’t anyone wake me??? I’ve just slept through the best 11 hours of my reign. Quick, I’ve got to change some laws! I have a legacy to protect here!

11.32am: Right, agriculture now falls under Department of Health, so Manto can implement her far-reaching vision for Aids prevention without interference from the liberal do-gooders.

11.37am: It took a whole five minutes to scrap all exchange control allowances. There were just so many regulations – always a sign that we allowed things to get out of hand. Now not a single rand will leave this country ever again. And what was Trevor THINKING? Allow one market force to determine our future and soon we will be subject to all market forces. Well, right now I’m the only market force that counts around here.

11.40am: The rand exchange rate just dropped to R17 to the dollar. This is shocking!! Scandalous! Outrageous! I mean, how did they still manage to exchange rands when I expressly banned it?? Right: from this moment, foreign exchange rates are banned! Let’s see who manipulates the market now!

11.47am: So many laws, so little time. Let’s just scrap the ones we don’t use. There, that’s most of them.

11.51am: Now, let’s scrap all the departments we can’t get to toe the line. We’ll keep Home Affairs, because that sounds so cozy, and Arts & Culture, because I still love my music, as long as it’s 51% locally composed. Oh, and we’d better keep Finance, but I’ll be watching you closely for the next few minutes, Trevor!

11.53am: Just discovered we have a Secret Service. Why didn’t anyone tell me? It even has a web site! How stupid is that?? You can’t have a secret service if everyone knows about it! And didn’t I ban the internet?? And what’s Ronnie’s face still doing there?? Didn’t he get the push long, long ago? Like on Tuesday? Now you understand why the internet is such a dangerous place. I’m going to get the secret service to find out who is keeping it going, and who is putting up false information. Heads will roll.

11.59am: Hey, I’m starting to love this internet. Just found the National Intelligence Agency web site. They are almost like the secret service, except their website has an animated eye (so clever!) and animated flag (so artistic!) of the country. These web designers are so creative and cutting edge, I must give them an award. But don’t think I’m going soft on the internet, because I’m not. It will never be allowed again while I’m President!

12noon: Oh, I’m not anymore. Damn.