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Shouting from the wild

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Listening to the Public Service Reforms Commission leaves one with a rare feeling that not all is lost in this country. There is, at least, a grouping of people who still have their brains intact and would like to see the country start making sense.

Twice, I have attended the commission’s meetings and, I must confess, both left me impressed. But then I have a gut feeling that eventually, all the efforts made by the commission will come to nil because we are a nation that is cultured in doing things the wrong way. And we celebrate being a nation that is having some kind of arrested development.

Unless you are someone acutely hit by denial, you will agree that there is too much mess that needs to be cleaned up in this country for us to start calling ourselves a progressive nation that has set its sight far. There appears to be chaos starting from the most basic of things and the bedlam seems to be increasing as we go up our social and political set up.

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The goal of the Reforms Commission is to bring sanity in our mad civil service. For instance, kill the ulcer of idleness among civil servants and then jerk that boringly slow machine called civil service into action. Honestly, there have been some good stories particularly and exceptionally at the Immigration Department where you no longer need to queue days on end only to end up bribing an official to get a passport.

But on a very generous note, the Civil Service Reforms Commission has a huge task than what we are thinking now. And I do not expect the reforms to be a ten-year programme. It might take decades because, honestly, it is not just the civil service that needs serious overhaul. It is you and me that first need a complete psychological shift then, from there, we will be good to go.

Growing up in my Ndirande Newlines, one was assured of street lights all over and the streets and byroads were all tarred. With time, some lunatics drunk by the then nascent term of democracy started vandalising all there was. Today, you cannot walk at night because it is all graveyard darkness and the roads are all gone. What remain are only nostalgic memories and depressing regrets about how careless some people have been. If you look closely at this, it was all sheer lack of national interest.

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But, then, the people on the ground would somehow be excused for showing indifference in embracing the reforms because they will always tell you that they are ignored when it comes to sharing the national cake.

It is an insult to tell a person about the national need to go austere because we are going through some harsh economic times yet, just a metre from a poor man’s ramshackle home in Mbayani, the President and his exaggerated retinue are wheezing at breakneck speed in their huge vehicles.

It is only shallow to tell someone to eat as measly as possible because we have no food yet those telling us that have protruding belies and puffy cheeks that even threaten to explode because they have everything to eat.

People are not that blind these days and they will critically sieve what they have been told. And the reforms commission must be clever but at the same time honest on this.

And then we also have the sickening culture of seeing things from the blurred lenses of political affiliation. We all forget that our parties are far smaller than the nation and we would play blind to something of national concern as long as it is our party that is in government that time. I know of once-upon-a-time bright friends who have become shocking jingoists all because their party is now in government. And we also know of those people who seem wiser because they are no longer in government.

These may look trivial but they are areas that need serious reform. And it is not easy.

If there forms commission wants to convince all of us to change our way of doing things, they need to first of all man up, look at the President in the eye and tell him to lead by example by living modestly and then people will not have problems following that good lead.

The Public Service Reforms Commission, as I said earlier, is made of people of high standing in society and have interest to make things change for this country. But the disappointing thing is that some of the important areas that need serious reforms are left in the hands of political savages who have no interest in national development other than their being politically right.

My fear is that, if we all do not accept that we are a nation in desperate need of change to move away from the mire of poverty, the commission might end up in vain like the ecclesiastical loner shouting from the wild.

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