The insidious weakening of our institutions—a process begun too long ago to blame it on any one political force—is doing more to riddle this country with bullet wounds than any gunman.
Anyone with eyes to see has witnessed the venal trampling of processes to lubricate already oily palms. We’ve watched the dismantling of systems that traditionally provide monitoring, that ask for accountability; that seek to ensure transparency.
Gift, graft and greed are the guiding principles that determine how the state’s business is run. The utter vulgarity of the way public affairs are mismanaged—with buffoons bawling at each other and primping for every camera—must have people seething that this is what is being done in our collective name.
If it has been our lot to repeatedly thrust egocentric simpletons with only money and power on their minds into controlling positions in this country, then more the fools we are, because here we are then; here we are.
We now live in a place where the consequences of the feeding frenzy that has overrun decency and common sense are upon us. Can anyone truly say they trust our public institutions anymore? Can anyone point to one that functions properly? Can anyone believe anything they hear on a public platform?
I won’t even bother to cite the latest political campaign, which, by itself, underscores just how crass our standards are—but I think it is because we no longer respect our institutions, everybody just leggo no-hand.
We hold commissions of enquiry with commissioners of dubious qualifications; who will take their findings seriously? Left, right and centre, people are submitting CVs with any qualification they find sounding nice; they’re getting jobs with heavy perks, and when their bogus accreditations are discovered, they are spared criminal charges because a politician says he feels they were embarrassed enough.
The implications of these countless unqualified people holding decision-making positions at enterprises across the board are many and all bad.
This is what has been weakening our institutions; and no country can go forward positively with such structurally damaged foundations.
Public institutions without knowledge of their responsibilities, with leaders complacently ignorant cannot fulfil their mandates of service and development.
The Public Service, an entity once headed by intelligent, dedicated and informed citizens, has now reached the point where it’s run by people who have moved up the ranks by dint of longevity, not performance.
Fifty-one years after Independence, where meritocracy is still not the preferred measurement for promotion, it was bound to happen. People inch forward and inch forward and before you know it, they reach. So you could have a permanent secretary (the chief accounting officer of a ministry) saying she had no idea who paid for a trip she took to Jamaica.
The Public Service probably employs the highest percentage of the workforce, and the majority are hugely dissatisfied with their working conditions. Morale is so low that not even the talk about public service reform has done anything but made them more cynical. Why? Because they’ve heard it too often in the past—without anything substantial being done. We berate them for the poor level of service; but there is nothing to motivate them into providing it. While I do not condone poor service, I think this often drives it.
The main licensing department is shut down for days over unhealthy, unsafe working conditions. Everyone knows what an archaic and awful place it is; for it to continue to function under such circumstances is an insult to the people working in it. Can we not intuit that its infamous stain of corruption is somehow linked to this?
A developing society’s university should do more than process students through the degree mill. It should be a strong, strident voice, participating in public discourse and leading the way in searching for ways to enhance the quality of life. Such an institution should not be so cowed by political interference that it paralyses itself out of relevance. When it is weakened, it not only diminishes the role it ought to play in development, but it turns itself into yet another playing field to be exploited at political whim.
Bereft of intellectual leadership we have defaulted to the agendas of politicians to tell us what is good for us. Where has it taken us?
Our public institutions have become puppets, manipulated by sometimes unseen puppeteers, who have one thing in common; they’re a bunch of punks.
What do they want? Big, fat cars, mansions and Disney vacations. They want to be “in TV” to quote one who just can’t get enough coverage. They run institutions without understanding how they ought to function. They don’t know why things are done, so they can’t even see the consequences of their actions. For them, today is today, yesterday was yesterday, and tomorrow is only a rerun.
It might be considered good strategy to ignore the root of our troubles and place all the ills at the doorstep of violent crime—that way yet another misguided quack could come charging out to stamp on cockroaches while the corbeaux overhead continue to circle and swoop.