BAR TALK: Open letter to all ministers, permanent secretaries

Minister Walter Mzembi you are a prince among ministers

Minister Walter Mzembi you are a prince among ministers

With Bra Gee
This week Bra Gee puts aside the very important job of writing a petition to be signed by all soccer fans and haters asking Sepp Blatter to please take Cuthbert Dube to whatever hell he will be creating when the former’s dance with FIFA ends.

We are also desisting from joining in the search of the elusive Mahachi documents in which our chief interest is locating that gentleman’s birth certificate and related documents to establish if he was still a legal employee of the municipality or if he has been committing fraud following that year when he publicly celebrated his 64th birthday and should have retired the year after.

Instead on behalf of the long suffering populace, the great drinkers use their humble perches propping up the bar at the usual place to dare address the country’s mandarins. Or perhaps we should say would-be mandarins for few of those holding these high offices comport themselves in a manner befitting occupants of such stations.

First of all dear leaders, we think you need to know your place. The appellation senior in your general title is only a qualification for the part that matters which is “civil servant” with emphasis on the second part, please note.

In other words, we expect more servitude from you than the lowly counterparts who rush to stand up like military cadets whenever you enter a room. So it is hoped that all those concerned will heed these words delivered from the waters of wisdom.

Punctuality is the privilege of princes

Bra Gee has noted with much disgust the cavalier attitude displayed by the majority of ministers and permanent secretaries towards time. But we are perplexed by the fact that your own boss, The President himself is punctual. In fact we have been embarrassed on behalf of some event coordinators when the president has humbly waited for them to get organised and get with the programme because he was on time while their houses were in shambles!

It would be unfair to single out any particular senior civil servant as being the worst here as the list would be endless. So instead we will tell you the few people who have impressed us. Minister Walter Mzembi and former Minister Francis Nhema you are princes among ministers. We salute you gentlemen and will happily drink to your health at the usual place any time you want to come around and do the honours.

But for most of the others; not only do you insist on turning up for functions when you wish, when you get there you expect everything to be dropped so as to accommodate you before you flit off. And those that you consistently keep waiting include whole ambassadors who are representatives of their leaders.

Then you do not even offer apologies for delaying everyone and arrogantly launch into your speeches without considering the sensibilities of those you have kept waiting, sometimes for up to two hours. With you to destroy the image of the country we certainly do not need any demonisation from the West!

Now we know that you are very busy and important people with a lot of weighty decision to make between your late morning arrival, your endless tea break and your whole afternoon lunch. But that does not excuse you from being punctual for events that you would have known about for days if not weeks in advance. It simply shows you up as pompous, inefficient, uncultured, uncouth and disorganised.

We appreciate that most of you were born long before modern technology became an African reality and may never fully understand all those fancy gadgets in your possession. So we are not going to berate you for not maintaining digital daily planners to help you keep on top of the situation even if your day is going to hell in a basket.

So may we suggest that you take advantage of the PAs and countless aides that we the taxpayer so considerately employ for you to ensure that your day is scheduled in a manner that allows you turn up on time in all the places that you are meant to be.

The only excuse we are prepared to accept for your delay is that your boss will have summoned you to his office for an emergency grilling. In which case you will get the PA to call the organisers and inform them on time that you are delayed and are instead sending some gofer to read your speech and you yourself will turn up as soon as possible. But instead sometimes you do not deign to communicate and that lowly stand-in walks in three hours late obviously out to make everyone present feel the weight of the borrowed robes that they own.

Open doors

As we have previously stated, we do understand that you are important people and therefore would not expect you to make time for every beggar coming off the street to disturb your august cognitive processes. But is there any reason why some ministry offices resemble refugee camps as visitors arrive in the morning and spend the day there waiting for an off chance to talk to the important personage whose office they would have visited?

Surely that is the whole point of having all those directors and others such people under you so that your PA can automatically screen visitors and send them to some cypher who will cut the red tape for them? But instead they are made to wait until the end of the day before being told that they will have to reschedule. And these same people would have made appointments!

Just as your time is important, so does everyone else have something to do in the few short hours that constitute the day. In fact on balance you are much better off. You have a salary, allowances and trips as well as workers paid for by yours truly so your problems tend to be of a nebulous sort.

For some of us each day is a game of survival as the lions among us strive to outrun the slowest buck in order to have a meal while the slowest buck sweats to outrun the fastest lion in order to live to see the next day. We are all sprinting to remain in the same spot. Things are tough, dear leaders, and each hour is important even for the street beggar who cannot afford to leave his perch unoccupied for too long while he waits to tell you about his problems.

For by the time he returns not only will he have lost custom among the thousands who will have escaped dropping a few coins into his plate, but a more pitiable beggar will have taken over the lucrative corner.

Take warning, my masters

Now we are sure there are other matters that we could talk about like corruption and general failure to discharge the duties that you signed up for. But we are sure that you learnt long before the infamous Chidyausiku ruling that tables can turn any day and any time you may find yourselves like comrades Joyce, Didymus, Francis and Olivia among others; outside, looking in.

Last call: Bureaucracy unlimited

Q: What does a senior civil servant do when he sees the light at the end of the tunnel?

A: Immediately invest all the available resources including personnel into building a longer tunnel

Courtesy of

Till next week, bottoms up!

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