Mohamed Beshir Hamid

H.E.: The 100% Solution [3]






His Excellency the High Commissioner took his usual place in the Operations Room of the Residency, and with a gesture indicated to his assembled senior staff to take their seats. The whole place had, what Lord Acton once described as, the atmosphere of accredited mendacity.


“Today”, His Excellency began, “we are moving to the second stage of our master plan”. He paused to allow the full impact of his great revelation to sink into the skulls of assembled staff. “But before discussing it, I want to hear progress reports from our various departments”. He turned to one aide and asked for the latest Intelligence report.


“Well, Excellency”, Intelligence replied as he opened a huge folder, “we were able to infiltrate the latest trade union, the Khartoum North Kindergarten Children’s Association. All the potential trouble-makers and ring-leaders have already been blacklisted”.


“Well done, Intelligence”, said His Excellency, “now, Disinformation, what is the situation in the media?”


“Excellent, Excellency”, said Disinformation, “our plans to have a complete monopoly of the media market are progressing beyond our wildest dreams, thanks to your, born-again approach and the collaboration of our newly-found local friends. In fact, at this precise moment there is a lonely crowd of reporters outside waiting to interview Your Excellency. We had to chain some of them to the main gate to prevent them from jumping the queue”.


The High Commissioner was very pleased. “But what kind of disinformation have you been disseminating lately?” he asked.


“The usual stuff”, Disinformation replied looking into the pile of papers in front of him: ”The sacredness of the ‘special relationship’ in its various manifestations; The great kindness, noble concern and infinite wisdom of Your Excellency; and character assassination of those who falsely complain that we regard the country as our own protectorate, etc, etc. I must say, Excellency, we found a receptive response from some in the media here who apparently still hanker after the good old days. Greasing palms and VIP-style trips to our capital is proving to be effective incentives. But the excessive zeal of some of them is sometimes rather embarrassing. Some of the things they write make even me blush “.


“Your great endeavours will not go unnoticed, Disinformation”, said the High Commissioner. “Now Dirty Tricks, what have your plumbers been up to?”


Dirty Tricks, was not altogether happy with what he had to report. “Well, Excellency” he said sheepishly ”we have been concentrating our efforts on bugging the Watergate building in Khartoum. The trouble is we cannot locate it. The Dirty Tricks representative of our Great Ally keeps insisting that we had to go to Washington D.C. to  find it, I have sent my men all over the country to find D.C. Washington”.


“Any luck yet?” asked His Excellency. “No, Excellency”, Dirty Tricks replied, “but we are still waiting for a report from our plumber in Juba”.


The High Commissioner was not amused. “We are not amused”, he said, putting on his Victorian look. “We expect to have a more positive report next time”.


Leaning back on his seat, His Excellency continued: “Let us now turn back to our grand design. The directives from home are to continue treating the current political situation here as still one of a very transitional nature. We need some short-term solutions. These Sudanese cannot sort out the political mess they got into after so recklessly and stupidly dethroning our Great Friend. It is our sacred duty to do it for them”.


His Excellency’s face beamed with the thought of the magnanimous tribute-in-reverse offered by Big Brother to his muddle-headed inferior brethren. Looking at Political Affairs, he resumed his analysis: “Since Political Affairs has not yet finished counting the number of political parties in the country, we will confine our discussion to the AAA party; the BBB party, and the CCC party. To simplify matters we will exclude for the time being the XXX party, the ZZZ party, the YYY party and other smaller parties. Now you know our attitude towards the A.AA party, which can be summarized as follows: the less we have to deal with them the better”.


“They have made it clear that the feeling is mutual, Excellency”, said Political Affairs.


“I know that”, the High Commissioner conceded.  “That is why our best bet will be not a coalition government but a merger of the BBB party and the CCC party. There are, of course, variable ratio combinations for such a merger. How does the BBC party strike you?”


“James Bond’s people will raise some legal objections,” interjected Legal Affairs who had been keeping a very judicious silence.


“I will take care of that right away”, the High Commissioner exclaimed, “Get me Bond on the phone!” As side-issue specialist His Excellency was a converted believer in Peter’s Principle that if you look after the molehills, the mountains will look after themselves.


Legal Affairs picked up the phone with a trembling hand, wondering if the High Commissioner was going to order him to take James Bond for a walk. He was about to remark timidly that no such drastic measures were really needed when the loud-mouthed Political Affairs spoke: “I am still worried about this connection with the CCC party, Excellency. You know what we do to their type back home”.


With a gesture of impatience His Excellency said, “These fellows here are different; they are more civilized than ours”. His Excellency was apparently oblivious to the shocking fact that it was the first time he admitted that anybody or anything in the Sudan could even remotely be more ‘civilized’ than in his own country.


Political Affairs was still worried. “It is true that they have not yet taken to the habit of riddling their Presidents with bullets during military parades” he said uneasily, “but, Excellency… “


His Excellency interrupted him “Shut up, Political Affairs!” he retorted putting on his Meinkampf look, “are you questioning my intelligence?” The word Intelligence was enough to send a shudder around the room. A deadly silence settled in, and even Legal Affairs stopped worrying about the risky business of putting James Bond in deep freeze.


The High Commissioner immediately felt that he had to smooth over the matter in order to reassure his own staff. He fingered his prayer-beads and said mildly: “Believe me, 1 know what I am doing”. He put on his usual I am – no -fool smile, and as usual, the expression on his face reflected the opposite.


“What about Operation Comeback, Excellency?” asked Dirty Tricks, “I mean the Great Restoration of our Great Friend”.


“We have to put that on hold for the time being. It is important that we first get the BBC party in power. They will then dissolve the Constituent Assembly and hold new elections.  At that point we come in with our distinguished election specialists to ensure that our friends – both old and new – get 100 per cent of the vote.”


Dirty Tricks smiled. “With the long experience they have gained over the years, you can trust our experts to work wonders rigging elections, Excellency,” he said.


The High Commissioner nodded approvingly.  Elections were an area dear to his heart, in which he could claim without any fear of contradiction to be a real master. “The whole democratic process is simplicity itself,” he began. “All you have to do is to prepare a list of eligible voters. Then you copy the list and you get a voter-registration list. Finally you transfer all the names in the list into duly certified and stamped ballot papers and stuff them into the ballot box of the government’s official candidate. You count the votes et voila, you have a winner with a I 00 per cent majority. It is a fail-safe system.”


“Mind you,” His Excellency continued after some reflection, “the whole process becomes even simpler if you opt for the other democratic variety, known as the referendum. Our Great Friend was a grand-master of that technique”.  


“I thought it was practically impossible to get a 100 cent majority in an election contest,” said Political Affairs uneasily, “I mean the losing candidate can vote for himself, can’t he?”


“Not necessarily so” his Excellency said firmly, “not if his name happens to be in the winning candidate’s list’. The High Commissioner looked sternly at Political Affairs and added: “You must realize. Political Affairs, you have been posted in Reykjavik for too long to know the great election innovations we have perfected over the years. The name of the game is not to exceed the 100 per cent margin. A 100.999 per cent landslide does not look nice in print”.


“It does not sound nice either,” Political Affairs agreed, “it sounds like an avalanche to me”. He paused and added hesitantly, “it may even be wiser, Excellency, to settle for a 90 per cent majority in order to leave a margin for improvement in future elections.”


Before His Excellency could reply to that absurd suggestion, the phone rang.


“James Bond on the line, Excellency,” said Legal Affairs,


The High Commissioner put on his old-boys-network tone. “Hello, 007, old mate,” he said, ”what? yes, of course we know that you appreciate the help  we gave you to throw the representatives of the Lion Keeper out of your country. What is a frame-up or two between friends? But, Bond, we need your help now. What would be the attitude of His Majesty’s Government if a BBC Party is established here in Sudan?”


His Excellency listened, his face first showing bewilderment and then satisfaction. Putting down the receiver, the High Commissioner said to his aides: “Funny people these Johnnies.  James Bond took some time trying to explain the distinction between His and Her Majesty’s Governments, as though it mattered. He also kept talking about this influential woman they call the Iron Lady, probably the chief mistress of their King.” His Excellency paused. “Regarding the BBC business” he added putting on his I-can-work-miracles smile, “Bond tells me as far as this Iron Lady is concerned we can take the whole damned Corporation lock, stock and barrel!”


SUDAN TIMES 9 December 1986


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