Didymus the Zillionaire

BY MAGAISA IBENZI WARD 12, PARIRENYATWA HOSPITAL, HARARE - My fellow inmates and I are not in the habit of discussing the country's budget - a) because the way in which the government says it intends to spend the money bears absolutely no resemblance to what actually happens. 2) We can't get our

heads around those trillions and zillions of zeros, and neither can my calculator. c) Thanks to rampant inflation, by the time we have finished adding them all up, the figures are already overtaken.

But the reason for our interest in the budget this year was the zillions of dollars that have once again been set aside for our spy agency, the world-renowned CIO. One item that caught my eye was the spook school. Which no-one ever knew existed until it was inadvertently mentioned in the budget for all the world to see. Maiwee! I wonder who is languishing in the stocks for that little blunder? Now we all want to know – where is this school? Who is running it? How long has it been going and why does it gobble so much public funding? And why is its allocation not subject to scrutiny by the auditor general like all other government spending?

I bet you won’t see any test tubes or Bunsen burners in the laboratory there. The equipment undoubtedly includes electric wiring for torture purposes, batons and sjamboks for thrashing opposition supporters, buckets and sacks for simulated drownings and suffocation, and an assortment of poisons.

In charge of the whole outfit, of course, is that well-known former anti-corruption minister and looter-in-chief Didymus Mutasa. It is common knowledge that he has been looting valuable commercial farm equipment all around the country and pocketing the money. All in the national interest of course. And now he is given an eye-wateringly large budget for the nefarious activities of the spook agency – none of which is subject to audit. Adding two and two together – which my calculator and my brain can both still manage – it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that this man is one helluva zillionaire. And if he is changing the money on the World Bank – as he probably is – he is also undoubtedly a multi-millionaire in hard currency terms.

The Zim spooks must be the envy of every spy agency in the world – swimming in oodles of unaccounted-for dosh like this.

(in a separate little box)
How many zeroes????

A trillion is a one with nine zeroes after it, but how much is that really? To illustrate this, just imagine that I would give you a Z$1,000 note every minute of the day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I would not stop for anything, just continue doling out those pale blue notes at a rate of one per minute.
Can you guess in which year I should have started doing this, in order to give you your trillionth dollar today? I give it to you as a multiple-choice question to make it a bit easier:

a. The year 2000 (5 years altogether)
b. The year 1955 (50 years)
c. The year 1905 (100 years)
d. The year 1805 (200 years)
d. The year 1505 (500 years)
e. The year 1005 (1000 years)
f. The year 505 (1500 years)
g. The year 5 (2000 years)

Which one would you pick if you were given 10 seconds thinking time? Answers below! (Thanks to from my friend Zero Tolerance in Bulawayo.)

Answer to Magaisa’s Zero’s quiz: The year 5 AD! Staggering, isn’t it?

Altogether there are just over half a million minutes in a year, so in 1 year I would have given you only half a billion Zimkwachas in Z$ 1000 notes. To make up one trillion in that manner, one needs 2000 years!

If I had to give you 1 trillion in 100 years, starting in 1905, by giving you one banknote a minute, I would have to use those infamous Z$ 20 000 bearer cheques …. our largest denomination.

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