Paulina N Moses
It is highly disheartening and sickening to know that some civil servants utter phrases like, “the big cats are eating, we must also eat”.
We concentrate to a great extent on politicians and allow civil servants to operate willy-nilly and with no caution. Because of this, some civil servants outstrip corrupt politicians by a country mile.
The age of selfless civil service is long gone and what we have now are officials who are no different from the politicians they enjoy criticising. Civil servants are part and parcel of the elements that destroy the economy.
Some civil servants who are entrusted to serve the public, only work with an attitude of, “what’s in it for me?”
An irresponsible civil servant can hurt society more than the politician. Very few civil servants understand the economy. We don’t see how looting public funds or resources has an overall negative impact on the country as a whole. “The government has money, let’s eat it” is a common phrase in the public sector.
Officials will apply to attend five workshops, of which they have no genuine interest in, only because they are motivated to claim subsistence and travelling allowance (S&T). This attitude does not only loot government off money but also negatively impacts service delivery because despite numerous courses attended, under the façade of learning, this official still has not gained additional skills to keep up with the changing and innovative times.
An official will have no interest in their day to day activities but would be eager to attend a workshop, but only if the said workshop is out of town. The aim? Accumulating S&T.
Such officials draw submissions for appropriation of funds, claim exaggerated hours of overtime and travel for exaggerated amount of days thus claiming unnecessary S&T for jobs that can be done in half the time. They sit in their offices, blaming the politicians for the downgrade of the economy.
Just as the private sector, the state can adopt an accommodation booking system. Civil servants would be less greedy when they do not receive cash for travelling. Of course it is not the system that encourages abuse but rather the human element.
We are all responsible for the situation we find ourselves in today in our country. Also, it is our responsibility, all of us, to clean up this mess. It is our duty to handle our finances with diligence and learn to live within our means, thus to not have the need to steal from the government, who in turn are the people. In fact, we are stealing from ourselves and it is our children who suffer the consequences. Civil servants do not consider their choices with caution because we assume the government will look after us.
We should focus on prevention rather than reaction. We must try at the very least to observe a high level of accountability to our country. Being in the civil service should be a calling. If one is stealing under the façade of “low wages”, resign and find greener pastures in the private sector. Poor remuneration is a wicked excuse to loot public funds.
Civil servants are well aware of the responsibility of government towards them but are selectively ignorant of their responsibility towards the government. We know our rights but selectively unconcerned about our responsibilities. Our civil servants are disgustingly entitled and it is hurting the economy. We have a health and education sector that is bleeding, funds should be preserved and transferred to these sectors instead of us trying to live like kings by looting public funds.
Anti-corruption journalist Manasseh Azune once said that “the sad thing is that dedicated people who are not prepared to conform don’t often last in politics or public service. There is more incentive to do the wrong things than to be good.”