Bribes, interest rates, high prices the talk in taxis

The economy is so bad that people speak of nothing else in the taxis. An old man said that things had evolved so much in South Africa that everyone, including the poor, was now eating izambane lika pondo (a £1 potato).

The economy is so bad that people speak of nothing else in the taxis. An old man said that things had evolved so much in South Africa that everyone, including the poor, was now eating izambane lika pondo (a £1 potato).

This is a clever play on the isiZulu idiom that rich people eat expensive food. So, in a quirk of fate, everyone is now buying expensive food.

A cartoon doing the rounds shows a car hijacker with a five-litre container holding up a taxi. The hijacker then demands petrol from the driver.

We were chatting about these jokes and others that are a little blue in the taxi on our way home. We were quietly depressed about our empty cupboards and how we had to be creative to put a meal on the table.

We all had a story to tell about the rising food prices.

Pinky, our Model C, wondered why cooking oil was so costly when it was not made from the oil in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

I told her that a sunflower seed farm near my home township had been converted into growing townhouses. Other farms in other places were also sprouting this new exotic flower. This had created a shortage of cooking oil.

Then a young chap we did not know, probably a day tripper, announced that Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni was making life hell for all the mothers.

The women in the taxi eagerly agreed with this wise observation. After all, it is the mothers who have to know how to stretch R1 into R5. They have to see to it that the family is clean and fed and that the rent is paid.

While we were thinking that this young man had the right head on his shoulders, he shocked us with his next observation. He said the price of tjotjo (bribe) had been affected by inflation and the steep interest rates.

"Mboweni forgets that it is the mothers who pay tjotjo to get their sons out of jail. Now the Magrizza's savings will only pay for minor crimes like assaulting a cheeky neighbour.

"They will not pay for roof (robbery), dronk bestuur (drunk driving) or shoplifting. A R300 shake will have to go up to R1000 to soften an official's heart so that the son can be released on free bail," said this young clever from Dindela in Vosloorus. He said mothers love their children very much and could not bear to think of their sons shivering in jail.

He also said clevers like him had suspended their operasies until the rand and the interest rates went down.

The women observed a shocked silence while the young man went on and on about this topic of mothers and their wayward sons and Mboweni drying up this nourishment.

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