South Africa

Government memo: Let’s drop name-drops

By Richard Poplak 23 May 2013

In the recently released government report detailing the specifics of the so-called Guptagate scandal, one of the suggestions was that “Government… should develop and implement a public service awareness campaign to discourage the negative culture of name-dropping.” The Daily Maverick has secured a secret memo that is currently doing the governmental rounds. RICHARD POPLAK believes that it will have the necessary effect.


It has come to our attention that cadres, to say nothing of those existing outside the traditional structures of the ANC, have become exceedingly footloose and fancy-free regarding the unregulated use of certain pronouns. It should be noted here, which is to say prefaced, that certain pronouns in this country cannot be used without the proper clearance.

The culture of name-dropping must stop. President Jacob Zuma recently intoned during a dinner in honour of the release of the latest Iron Man sequel, at which Robert Downey Jr was present and killing us with his spot-on Helen Zille imitation, “It is unfortunate that some officials and members of the public would resort to that practice of using and abusing the names of members of Cabinet in this manner to further their own ends, as alleged. We call for vigilance and urge all our officials who are entrusted with managing state institutions not to succumb to pressure from name-droppers. They should immediately report to their superiors and to law enforcement agencies, anyone who behaves in this manner.”

As the ANC’s great friend Morgan Freeman, who recently and so expertly impersonated Madiba in a film, has pointed out, “People don’t realise that I played rugby myself when I was a student at Fort Hare. It is a very rough game, almost as rough as politics.” We are unclear whether Freeman was speaking for himself in his own capacity, or merely reciting lines attributed to Madiba. Nonetheless, we can only nod in agreement.

It has been said by another of the ANC’s boon pals, the rap singer LL Cool J (many of us chillax with him when we are attending UN meetings in New York City), “I think when you move past your fear and you go after your dreams wholeheartedly, you become free.” We interpret this to mean that the transition is going according to plan, but we must not be sidetracked by infighting and must build capacity. In short, we need to adhere to certain core principals, one of which is that there are no monarchs and no courtiers in the ANC. This fairness is something that we pride ourselves on.

It sort of reminds us of the time we were in a swimming pool filled with champagne at Silvio Berlusconi’s Lake Como residence, which was staffed with underage glamour models in order to rectify gender and age imbalance. We were quite in our cups, which is to say that we were drinking the contents of the pool, when the Italian president vomited on his alligator skin shoes. We all laughed, but the point was well made: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. We thanked him profusely for delivering his signature bon mots of hard- won wisdom in such a succinct and colourful way.

Certain incidences in recent memory have pointed out to us how important it is to stay humble. We cannot swoon about, boasting about this and that and the other while the legacy of Apartheid has yet to be extinguished. Just the other day, several of us were on Google Hangout with Noam Chomsky, and he reminded us that the forces of hegemony have not yet relinquished their hold on the necks of the globe’s indigent. The dagga was very powerful, so typing a response was impossible. But that’s why God made smiley emoticons.

Speaking of Our Heavenly Father, it is important to remember that He is with us as a constant presence. He is, of course, the first entity at the polls during elections, and we know from dozens of reliable theological sources that He never fails to vote ANC. Indeed, all of our members have a fabulous relationship with Our Father, and should they combine prayer with a love of the party, those prayers are almost sure to be answered in the positive, especially if they regard driving a brand new Audi as positive.

Wait, what’s this? A twitter has come through on our Galaxy 4s! It’s from Paul Kagame in Rwanda! “Keep it real.” In fact, it has come to our attention that we have more African presidents following us than any other liberation party. Even the M23 Congolese rebels follow us. But that probably isn’t a good thing. Once, President Barack Obama of the United States retweeted something we retweeted from someone in Senegal. Talk about a Global Village!

Anyway, we digress.

Comrades, we are at a crossroads. We cannot allow a phone call, when a certain name is used, to alter our unwavering passage to service delivery, capacity building, and going to Davos and sitting next to Bill Gates’s wife. (Who told us that she’s a fan of some of our work in rural areas.) Are we simply going to flit from World Economic Forum to Brics conference, hanging with our homey Vladimir Putin? (Man, is that guy ever hilarious. Remind us to tell you his Manmohan Singh-goes-to-a-synagogue joke some time.)


We are going to continue to serve the South African people: the only names we will drop are the names of our 50 million citizens. In order for us to uphold the dictates of the Constitution, the boasting must stop. It’s like our friend Madonna said, right before she asked our advice on what type of African child makes the best adoptee: “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”

Our sentiments exactly. DM


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