It’s another week into the stand- off between the government and striking civil servants. Dubani-wa-Dubani with the brief to eavesdrop on conversations in public places, this week finds himself amongst the morning breakfast crowd at a make shift tuck shop at the Gaborone taxi rank.
Enter taxi-man in a Township Rollers T-Shirt. He is talking to a man dressed in black.
TAXI MAN: Hey you fool, why are you dressed as if you going to a funeral? You will give us bad luck. Black is for funerals not work, unless you happen to be an undertaker.
MAN IN BLACK: Sir please address me properly. My livelihood is in danger and you are asking me stupid questions. Most people at transport are on strike and those at work are in a bad mood. I have been trying to renew my permit for three weeks now. I came here for the tea not you and your nonsensical talk.
TAXI MAN: Sorry brother, but you look funny in black, strike or no strike. What are you going to do now?
MAN IN BLACK: I have to keep coming back. If I do not get a permit I will starve.
TAXI MAN: (Laughing) You starving! You must be joking. Your sugar mummy will feed you.
MAN IN BLACK: Go to hell idiot. My women are not your business. I will beat you up one of these days.
Enter Tea Seller
TEA LADY: Stop it you two. You are disturbing my business. My customers are not on strike.
MAN IN BLACK: Sorry madam but these people, the politicians and the workers should solve their problems and get things going again. I wonder if those on strike understand what they are doing to us. People are dying in hospitals, the streets are dirty – it’s a mess. They will only understand when one of their close ones dies in hospital whilst the nurses and doctors are dancing at GSS grounds.
TAXI MAN: I never knew you could talk anything sensible my boy. Now you are growing into a man.
MAN IN BLACK: Look taxi man. Do not insult me the way the strikers and their supporters are doing to our President and MPs. Let me leave you before I make you mess your trousers
TEA LADY: These people are messing up the country.
MAN IN OBAMA T-SHIRT: Which people?
TEA LADY: The Unions, the President and the opposition.
OBAMA: It’s the Unions, the President and his cronies. Not the opposition.
TEA LADY: You cannot leave the opposition out of this. They are going around saying they support the strikers because they want votes. I tell you nothing will improve if they get power.
TAXI MAN:(interrupting):And they will have the perfect excuse. They will tell us they inherited a mess and not do much to improve our lives. They are just making the right noises so that we give them our votes. What makes you think they will do any better? Are they not politicians? As for me I have never voted and never will. I won’t help another man go eat while I starve. Never!
OBAMA: It’s irresponsible people like you who do not vote that are messing up this country. Perhaps if you and many others like you had voted we would not have this stubborn government.
TAXI MAN: Don’t call me irresponsible. I have a wife, kids, my own house and my taxi. That’s more than enough responsibility for any man. If I vote I will feel guilty when politicians mess up, because I will be accountable. That’s not the kind of responsibility I want. Not me.
TEA LADY: (Shouting at the top of her voice) Tea, Coffee, Magwinya and other delicacies. Come this way before you go to GSS grounds or work. You need energy even when on strike. I am not on strike. I do not want you to starve. We need you fit when you decide.
TAXI MAN: You striking – it does not make sense. You cannot strike because you can’t demonstrate against yourself!
OBAMA: Leave that fool alone and serve some coffee before I faint.
TEA LADY: You can die for all I care. You owe me from last week and you won’t get anything from me until you have settled you bill.
OBAMA: Bear with me sister. This strike has affected my cash flow. I will pay you before the end of the day. I promise.
YOUNG LADY SELLING ORANGES: Don’t give that crook anything. He owes me too and every time I ask for my money he blames the strike. I guess he even tells his wife about the strike when she wants cash. He spends all his energy and money on loose girls. The strike is the perfect excuse. You must pay me sir or I will summon you before court.
OBAMA(walking away) Let me go before you insult me more.
TEA LADY AND ORANGE SELLER: (In unison) Go away you useless man
MAN IN BLACK: (reappearing) People I am from the transport people again. They won’t help me. I wonder if the cops will listen to me if they catch me with an expired permit. I am doomed. Business is slow and I won’t even have anything to pay myself out of trouble when they catch me.
(to Taxi man): What’s the name of that traditional doctor of yours? He is the only one who can help me dodge the cops.
TAXI MAN: Go to hell mate! That doctor is mine and mine only. He is like my woman – not for sharing. Just wait till the strike is over. In the meantime if you get into trouble with the cops, tough luck.
MAN IN BLACK: Go to hell.