ONE academic once described administrative failure as the worst kind of bottleneck — an impediment to a country’s development.Ethiopian Hagos T. Haimanot, blogging a few years ago, said he was “disgusted” by how a Canada-based family related to him had failed to travel home for a social gathering in the East African country because the mother was not issued her national ID in time for her to apply for passport renewal at the embassy in Ottawa.
“It is unfortunate that a minor paperwork that must have been done within 10 minutes reached at this level of an international incident,” wrote Haimanot.
“The issue is renewal of the mother’s ID of Ethiopian origin. This is a very straightforward, simple process that must have been accomplished in 10 minutes by counterchecking the new application with the original information in the Embassy’s file.”
A very upset Haimanot — who lives in Europe and was looking forward to seeing his relatives at home for the “Diaspora Week” — describes the unhelpful officials as “saboteurs” and “extremists.”
Haimanot’s frustration will be totally understood by Zimbabweans, many of us direct victims or observers of this shameful societal disorder that has been embraced brazenly by those entrusted with delivering key services to the public.
Early this year, football fans in this country were left cursing the authorities after the Zimbabwean embassy in London failed to issue a local passport to gifted British-born striker Macauley Bonne to enable him to represent the land of his forefathers at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Living in the First World, where systems tend to work better, you would assume that staff at the Zimbabwean embassy in the UK would have learnt a thing or two about efficient and effective service delivery.
But deliberate incompetence in Zimbabwe, where colossal corruption has ravaged the entire country, is now an infectious disease. It follows you wherever you go.Besides, they say embassies are a reflection of the countries they represent.
We live in a society where frustration levels are enormous, stretched at every turn by those no longer remotely ashamed of abuse of public office.
Even when you try to do a good thing, like Nyasha Mushekwi, there are always self-serving types lurking somewhere out there, ready to exploit the situation.
Probably Mushekwi did not imagine the kind of impediment he would face when the former Zimbabwe international footballer decided it would be a very nice gesture to buy his former club CAPS United a luxurious team bus worth US$120 000.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) seized the brand new bus on the grounds that the import duty which was initially paid for it was understated.
This came after the authority had turned down Mushekwi’s request for exception from duty.
But how is a private citizen like Mushekwi safe from bureaucratic bottlenecks when the same national revenue body — a parastatal for crying out loud — confiscates apparel of the national football team, the country’s number one sporting entity?
How safe, too, are ordinary folk from public service rigidity when prominent people like Mushekwi can be openly subjected to such alarming levels of red tape?