Apt! Well-deserved! Serves them well!
The response, even if stretched a bit, seems telling when people talk about the audience senior executives—government secretaries and chief executive officers—received last week. Following the leaked notes, believed to be the minutes, there is consensus that the royal displeasure was not only timely, but also an urgent wake up call to our complacent and sleepy bureaucracy.
The notes, which have been circulating on social media, seem to have woken up a lot of people, especially those in the position of authority and decision-making, to the extent that people report suddenly seeing many government SUVs finally up and about.
Interestingly, the general feeling is that nobody was surprised. The bureaucracy, for numerous reasons, has always been a subject of constant public criticism. From poor service delivery to red tape and inefficiency, lack of accountability to reckless squandering of public resources, the bureaucracy has lost the confidence of the ordinary people.
The civil service is seen more as a comfort zone to finally roost in perpetually, a place that guarantees a secure job with opportunities to travel, upgrade one’s qualification, and attend numerous training sessions. A true happily-ever-after perch! The private sector sees the bureaucracy as a hurdle rather than a facilitator.
If the royal audience has stirred us to action, it is a welcome thing. It is said that the ripple effect of the notes shared has woken up executives outside the bureaucracy. The message is clear, and it’s not only for the bureaucracy. We can surmise that public corporations, state-owned or otherwise, civil society organisations, autonomous agencies are no better off. If they too take the notes seriously it would be good for the country and the people.
It is good to have stern reminders of what we do or fail to do. It is even better if we can draw ourselves a new direction based on such reminders. The issues reflected in the notes are not new. We have been talking, writing, and discussing them for decades, unfortunately without much results or progress. Sometimes, it felt like we had hit the dead-end way too soon.
But that should not be the case. There cannot be dead-ends in the bureaucracy. That’s why the reminder could not have come at a better time. If we fail to change our attitude or forget our obligations to public service then we would have failed in our duty.
The good thing about what people are talking about is that everybody is appreciating what transpired in the audience, convinced by the notes shared. The worst is not acting on it or forgetting it as time passes by. Hopefully we stay alert for long enough to change the way we see things today.