Muppets, puppets, and plots
● It is always exciting when local fiction does well and Mr Gayton McKenzie’s debut novel, Kill Zuma By Any Means Necessary, has caused quite a stir among people who enjoy the fantasy genre.
Andile Mngxitama, for example, has called the book “explosive” in at least one of the 11 tweets he’s composed on the topic. Another one insists that “we all must read this book”, and while that instruction sounds remarkably like something that came grinding out of the fax machine from Saxonwold late last night, his enthusiasm is clear to see. I only hope the people who are paying him see it too and reward this conscientious reviewer suitably.
Somewhat disappointingly, the title of Kill Zuma By Any Means Necessary gives away the plot, which is, well, a plot, to kill Zuma, by any means necessary. Fortunately, McKenzie mixes things up nicely by adding sub-plot plots, carefully plotting out all the plotting without ever losing the plot.
For example, we learn that one of the people who tried to kill Zuma (with poisoned ox-liver, no less!) was a member of the ANC’s current Top Six. I don’t want to spoil anything but the inference is that the poisoner (allegedly also a CIA plant handreared by Anton Rupert) has a name that rhymes with Byril Bamabhosa. McKenzie doesn’t explain why his main character would appoint a known assassin to be his deputy president, but this is a work of fantasy so perhaps it is unfair to look for logic.
Speaking to ANN7 yesterday, McKenzie explained that the inspiration for the novel came to him after he “stumbled across a whole lot of files”. I assume by “stumbled across” he means “got sent an e-maill” and by “files” he means “a ghost-written work of fiction with a space left open on the cover for my name”, but these are minor details that shouldn’t detract from a glorious example of pure, unbridled invention.
This reader does, however, have one small criticism of the book’s publishers.
In the interview with ANN7, McKenzie explains that “we give the inside story”, which is an odd thing for someone to say who has written a book all by himself.
Things become clearer, however, when he suggests that the Guptas have been made scapegoats for too long.
Which brings me back to my small criticism. Chaps. I understand the value in paying an anonymous hack to bang out some sensational fabrications to draw attention away from yourselves while helping your puppets at the upcoming elective conference. It’s a solid strategy.
But if it’s going to work, you need to tell your spokespuppets and spinmuppets that when they punt the book on Mzwanele Manyi’s private TV network, they Can’t. Mention. Your. Name. Because now all they’ve managed to do is link this drivel directly to you.
Come on, guys. Bell Pottinger taught you better than that.