Finally, Government has admitted what we have long said - bureaucracy has been institutionalised, and it is a bottleneck to progress.
During a tour of the Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) on Monday, the assistant minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Phillip Makgalemele, expressed concern at rampant bureaucracy in the public service.
He said such bottlenecks have reached “normalcy”, to such an extent that service delivery suffers and programmes fail to reach the intended beneficiaries; most of whom are masses living in rural areas. Makgalemele condemned the status quo for giving the impression of there being intsitutionalised bureaucracy in the system, saying this has resulted in heightened customer dissatisfaction, lack of productivity, and generally, a culture of laxity across government departments and ministries.
Endless queues have become a daily scene. In most cases, officers are seen going about their jobs as if they are doing everyone, including their employer, a favour. The street saying “there is no hurry in Botswana” has consequently turned into a national anthem of sort. This is a very disturbing trend which does not only leave thousands frustrated but dear lives have been cut short in some instances, owing to this poor work culture.
Makgalemele acknowledged that it is time public officers wake up and smell the coffee, as the entire world is miles ahead in terms of optimising productivity and competitiveness, which are are critical ingredients of economic growth.
It is not only in the public service where employees seem to think that low productivity has no impact on their livelihoods. Queues are common in this country, in banking halls, retail stores, petrol stations, and other service providers. The problem is even worse when one tries to make a telephone enquiry to any organisation as the phones ring unanswered, endless transfers. When one makes an investigation, they are confronted by the painful truth of people who are just not interested in working, preferring to wait for 4:30 or 5 pm to knock off.
Many people spend valuable time gossiping, engaging private conversations or just not interested in helping their clients.
With the world changing everyday, and globalisation right at our doorstep, we cannot afford the laxity of not working harder. The time has come for rigorous capacity building and training in the field of positive work culture, work ethic and the entire productivity value chain. BNPC has made tremendous contributions towards ensuring that productivity becomes part of our DNA, though financial constraints continue to hinder this noble undertaking.
We should embrace a new culture of working hard and emulate prosperous nations, such as Japan whose people are respected for their positive culture and mindset towards work. Various literature on Japanese work culture indicates the people work long hours and working is considered very important for economic development.
“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work. “
– Thomas A. Edison