‘Thesaurus publishers salute Zuma cabinet restructuring’

A contribution to Hayibo.com, republished in The Argus

JOHANNESBURG. Thesaurus publishers at the World Congress of Lists in Johannesburg have welcomed the Zuma cabinet portfolio renamings, saying that while the mean-spirited may have condemned it as a largely meaningless reshuffling of language, in fact it represents an excellent redeployment of linguistic resources and an occasional rehabilitation of neglected words.

“We particularly like the way some portfolio names have been simplified, and others lengthened,” said local publisher Everett Roget-Websters, also known as Roget Everett-Websters, Webster Roget-Everett, and Bob.

“For example, the restoration of the word ‘police’ for the Safety and Security portfolio perfectly captures the solidity the average citizen likes to see in a policeman, even if solidity sometimes verges on morbid obesity.”

He said that for years there had been complaints that police, confused about their proper roles, answered emergency calls by passing on the number for ADT.

“Now the average cop, assisted by weekly compulsory viewing of old Hill Street Blues tapes, should be in no doubt as to his or her role,” explained Roget-Websters.

But the new designations have not met with universal acclaim. Academics, particularly those working in the humanities, have expressed concern that the new president has missed an opportunity to make portfolio names even longer and more complicated than they need to be.

Professor Laboratus Derrida-Lickspittle of the Department of Comparative Disdain at the University of the South West said that while ‘Sport and Recreation’ was undoubtedly an improvement on ‘Sport’, a golden opportunity to rename it ‘Ministry of Sport, Accusations of Racism over the Perpetual Non-transformation of Rugby, the Protearisation of Springboks and Tracksuit Design Approval with Some Recreation Thrown In’ had been missed.

Similarly, he argued, ‘Human Settlements’ could have been called ‘Human Settlements, Tuscan Settlements and Inhumane Settlements so Abysmal as to Warrant Targeted Government Inaction’.

A three-way spat has also broken out over the new Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities, with the poetess Melancholia Angstus breaking a 15-year silence to express her disappointment that the new ministry was not named ‘Ministry of the Damned, the Lonely and Forever Silent’.

Gender activists argue the new ministry should be of ‘Women, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Intersex People, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities, Not To Mention People With Disabilities Who Include Themselves Amongst the Aforementioned Groups’.

However activists for niche lifestyle choices are unsatisfied, saying that people who like to have sex while sucking on dummies and pouring milk on themselves have now been institutionally marginalized.


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I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.

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