Loopholes, ‘poephols’ or potholes, this new Minister has no shortage of intriguingly groot ‘gats’ to conquer
Never mind electricity, the real star of the South Africa show is the Minister of Potholes.
What a truly great day to be me. Like most film critics, I too have long harboured a secret desire to be in front of the camera and show off my talents as actor extraordinaire. My secret vision board is filled with pictures of the many carpets I dream of walking while draped in designer fabric; red carpets, yellow carpets, champagne carpets, it doesn’t matter, I don’t see colour, only the bright white flashes of the cameras that will be pointed my way as photographers beg me to glance in their direction. And I, the benevolent movie star of my vision board come-to-life, would glance at each, no more than a second, so that my stardust may be spread equally among the adoring commoners behind the lenses.
Oh, dear diary, finally, my moment, nay, our moment, has come; for you too shall one day be published as part of my internationally bestselling memoirs. I received news today that my audition for a part in my favourite telenovela reality dark comedy horror series, The South Africa Show, was successful. I have been cast in the role of Minister of Potholes in the office of the Presidency. Bless. Cometh the hour, riseth the Star.
I know that everybody’s got their eyes fixed on the guy who got the Minister of Electricity role, but I can feel it deep in my waters, I’m going to be the breakout star of the season. I must confess, after watching a documentary on Earthing, the practice of walking barefoot in order to, as the Science Direct website explains, make “bodily contact with the Earth’s natural electric charge [to stabilise] the physiology at the deepest levels, reducing inflammation, pain and stress, and improve blood flow, energy, and sleep”, I did audition for the Minister of Electricity role.
Had I got it, I hoped we would shift the focus from that whole depressing load shedding plot and rather focus on the Earth’s electrical charge as a path to wellness. Lord knows many of the country’s public hospitals and clinics certainly aren’t.
I do hope the guy who got the role doesn’t get too distracted by the load shedding storyline, and that perhaps he realises that it would be far easier to get South Africans to improve their lives by walking barefoot and drawing electricity directly from the Earth, than actually expecting the country’s fictional rulers to fix anything, especially in a non-election year.
Fortunately for him, once I step in front of those cameras, potholes will be all anybody will be talking about. I see much bigger potential in that storyline, to be honest. So many mysteries to unravel. In fact, in preparation for the role, I spent my morning on Google, researching questions viewers might have about the legendary potholes featured on the show in previous years. “South Africa potholes,” I typed. Immediately, Google presented me with questions that pothole enthusiasts have asked in the past, which ranged from the deep and existential, such as “what causes potholes in South Africa?”
As my grandmother used to tell pre-adolescent ever-enquiring me: some mysteries are just too great for the human mind to fathom. South African potholes have no beginning, no end, they just are.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
“How many potholes in South Africa?” another, probably an auditor, asked. It was reported on the show last year that there’s “an estimated 25 million potholes — around seven million more than the estimated households in the country… 10 million more than reported in 2017, an increase of 67% in five years.”
Thankfully, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) was quick to move the discourse away from such simplistic thinking, when they clarified that those numbers were “improbable and unlikely”, and that they, the actual roads agency, were “unable to provide reliable statistics as to the exact number of potholes which have been repaired to date”, and people “must be careful when using statistical data so that we don’t exaggerate the challenges we are facing”.
I am particularly excited about the travelling potential this new gig will bring. I imagine that we will have to shoot across the breadth and length of the country. From the great potholes of the North, in the fictional city of Johannesburg, living sculptures in my opinion, to the bottomless pits of KwaZulu-Natal that could swallow a buffalo sitting on a cash-stuffed couch whole.
As per Sanral, it really is so important not to exaggerate challenges and this will be a huge focus of mine as I mould this character on screens across the planet and beyond. As I’ve written before on these pages, I’m a huge believer in this fictional country’s undeniably sculptural potholes as a potential tourist attraction, interplanetary tourism even. Perhaps finally, my idea of the #MyGatIsGrooterThanYours tourism campaign on TikTok will finally be heard and implemented. Be it poepholes, loopholes or potholes, this fictional country seems to have no shortage of intriguingly groot gats. And I’m truly grateful to finally be Minister of all the nation’s gats. DM/ML
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.