Greetings, my fellow Zubukians! I intended to address you today from the balcony of Government House. Unfortunately, current circumstances preclude that, so I must ask you to accept this television broadcast as a substitute. When I finish speaking here, I shall try to make my way to Revolution Square and review the annual parade of our magnificent Republican Guard, after the insurg . . . er . . . merrymakers now occupying that holiest of grounds have, entirely of their own free will, dispersed. I am informed that this will be within an hour.
For all of us, this is a solemn day, yet also a joyous one. Solemn because it gives us the opportunity to commune on a national basis, feeling ourselves at one with our ancestors, and joyous because it was exactly twenty years ago that we threw off the yoke of colonialism. Further, it is nineteen years to the day since the events took place which resulted in my becoming Prime Minister and, three weeks later, President of our beloved country.
I am deeply conscious of the heavy burdens placed upon me by the simultaneous holding of the two highest offices of our state, the more so as there is nobody who will, or can, lift them from me. I fear that I shall not be able to relinquish these duties this side of the grave. We live in troubled times. Everywhere in the world there is disorder, and we cannot insulate ourselves. There is no denying that we have our problems. Even in my own party, the National Alliance for Zubukian Integration, there has been unrest and, it must be admitted, corruption. Many of you will recall that only seventeen short years ago, I was obliged to dismiss the ministers of finance, home affairs, foreign relations and transport. Having no suitable replacements, I was forced to assume their portfolios myself- – yet more responsibilities that I shall, however reluctantly, be required to discharge for the rest of my days.
Why shall I not be able to cast off these millstones? I think you know. During the post-colonial disturbances, every party but my own in our hallowed land simply disintegrated, vanishing virtually overnight. It was left to us alone to carry the inextinguishable torch of democracy. True, there was an attempt made recently to form a viable opposition. To my deepest chagrin, that effort failed. I was greatly distressed by the collapse of the Alternative Progressive Enlightenment- – the APE -party.
Feelings ran high at the time, and the prevailing mood affected me as much as anyone. I cannot look back without a sense of deep sorrow at my last words to the leader of the aspirant rival organisation. I merely intended to convey my admiration of the man as, so to speak, the dominant male in his movement. It was regrettable that I referred to him as the chief ape. Also, my remark was ill-timed, coming as it did two hours before the untimely and, I emphasise, totally accidental demise of that fine young statesman. May his soul forgive me.
The unfortunate disappearance of the APE party was not the last of our troubles. Even now there are elements in our revered homeland intent upon fomenting strife. Indeed, it is for this reason that I speak now from the National Security Compound, surrounded by three- – yes, three- – concentric perimeter fences of four-metre-high electrified wire. I ask you to remember that fact, though the last thing I want is to be separated from you by the defences of a totally impregnable fortress. My dearest wish is to be among you, wringing your . . . hands. Yes, my friends, your hands.
Our former colonial masters claimed to have left us with a working governmental system. I spit upon their assertion. If they had made adequate provision before their departure, why were we compelled to discard their arrangements? We even had to change the name of our country. The colonists left us with what? I will remind you. The stark and unimaginative Zubukia. With our modernisation plan, we changed that in less than two years to the People”s Democratic Republic of Zubukia, or PDRZ. Can anyone doubt that this is more appropriate to our status in the world?
My compatriots, we have recently been the target of unwarranted attention from various external bodies. The international team that visited us last year concluded that literacy standards here had declined since colonial days. I spit upon their report. They said that the level was formerly fifty-two per cent and that it had fallen to twenty-three per cent. Do these meddlers not realise that we have our own traditions, our storytellers, to meet our needs? Notwithstanding that, I strive ceaselessly for improvement. I aim to ensure that in under ten years, there will a book in every school and, where there is evening tuition, a candle in each classroom.
We have been told by another agency, whose name I cannot bear to utter, that we lag behind other democracies in terms of our degree of enfranchisement. I spit upon this supposed finding. Is it not true that every first-born male over the age of forty in our country now has the vote? How does that accord with the monstrous charge against us? Obviously it does not. Our advance has been exemplary and will continue at an appropriate pace.
I must now deal with the most unworthy of all the accusations hurled at us. I refer to a bulletin issued by the World Bank, saying that our ninety-billion-dollar finds of oil, gas, uranium, platinum, gold and copper should have been better used in the last nine years. We are told that a land of four million people should be reaping greater benefits from such bounty. At the risk of being censured for excessive expectoration, I spit upon that document. Such malice can have been engendered only by the fact that no interest has yet been paid on the loan of twelve billion dollars, made to us by the Bank eight years ago.
Who is at fault? These legalised loan sharks should have known better than to bury our poor country under such a mountain of money. Our financial structure could not cope. Inevitably, there was confusion, multipartite transactions and complex pecuniary allocations which I struggle unflaggingly to trace. I was, sorrowfully, obliged to seek the assistance of a certain European country, well-versed in these matters. The World Bank asks where the funds in question are now. I answer that that is m . . . our business. Further, if the masters of usury continue to badger us, I shall, on your behalf, repudiate the debt. Do you hear this, you Shylocks in Washington? Not one shavaster shall I pay.
Now, my friends, the cares of state demand that I leave you for the moment. I hear the clanking and rumbling of those tribulations closing in upon me. They are constantly at my gate. If you can still see or hear this transmission, I ask you to join me in singing our national anthem, Zubukia Forever. Let the rafters ring!
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