Civil Servants Needed, Not Civil Serpents

Danny Meyer
Danny Meyer

Life is unpredictably ironic, yet one feels safe and secure when there is a routine and a predictable outcome.

It is better to learn from an early age that the only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability.

Examples of life’s irony is a dentist asking questions or soliciting an opinion on a topical issue with the drill and other dental tools already in your mouth.

Or how the knowledge of traffic rules drastically diminishes for many drivers after having passed their driving licence test.

Another irony in life is eating bread to survive when young, but avoiding it as you age.

And discovering typos after having sent off an email.

We crave familiar habits and outcomes and abhor unpredictability and unfamiliar outcomes.

The only likeable unpredictability is being surprised with a gift on your birthday and at Christmas.

And in business a likeable unpredictability is when the firm secures a large order or tender when it was least expected.

With age and gained from life experience one learns the wisdom in making lemonade when life hands you a lemon, rather than becoming consumed by anger and throwing your toys out of the cot.

As for irony and unpredictably there will always be highs and lows in that first encounter with a public official.

One just never knows how it is likely to evolve or develop after that first contact with a civil servant. It could be a pleasant experience or sheer hell.

I recently experienced both a high and a low in equal measure a few days apart.

Allow me, dear reader, to elaborate.

Working with the Ministry of Mines and Energy on a programme to help small-scale miners hone their financial literacy and business skills was an unmitigated pleasure.

From the bottom to top the officials in the ministry’s department that nurtures small-scale miners proved to be professional and efficient to a tee.

However, two days later dealings with an official at the Oranjemund Town Council proved to be a disaster.

She behaved in an appalling manner to an extent that it made one’s life a misery.

Despite having negotiated a rental agreement and paid an upfront deposit for the use of a clean municipal hall for a business skills development activity, the outcome was an unmitigated disaster.

It started with collecting the keys and running helter-skelter as the official was nowhere to be found on a Monday morning.

After finally gaining entry, the place was in a mess, with hours then spent cleaning the facility before training could start.

Another day passed before unwashed crockery, utensils and food scraps in dishes and bowls from a function over the weekend was removed from the hall.

By the third day the municipal official had still not bothered to come by and apologise.

Who doesn’t have experiences, good, bad, or indifferent to share on dealings with bureaucracy and public officials?

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The establishment of the Namibia Revenue Agency and the Business and Intellectual Property Authority are examples of how service levels in government entities can be reengineered.

It also demonstrates how swiftly civil serpents can be transformed to become civil servants.

  • Reach Danny Meyer at

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