Public office bearers must serve the public well

HARARE - A fascinating email has been the cause of considerable interest in the last few days.
Written by Psychology Chiwanga, the Director of Urban Planning Services (Dups) in the City of Harare.

 The writer outlines the portfolios he is responsible for in his job. At the end Chiwanga writes: "If you have any issues relating to the above I am at your service sir. I am your servant on the above-named portfolios.”

Chiwanga’s words are so shockingly honest that they cause the same reaction as a bucket of iced water tipped down your back.

Chiwanaga gets it!  At last someone gets it. Civil servants are servants of the people, not the arrogant, disrespectful, discourteous, supercilious breed that sit in government offices around the country.

Everywhere we go we are subjected to civil servants who treat us as if we are dirt on the pavement.

It is the same at the Registrar General’s office, immigration offices, border posts  — the list goes on and on.

It is invigorating to know that Chiwanga gets it — our taxes pay his salary.

 He is mandated to serve us and not the other way round. On the opposite side of the coin is the case of utility provider Zesa Holdings (Zesa).

While standing in a queue at the Zesa offices waiting to pay my electricity bill, I noticed that there were two counters open, one staffed by a man and the other a woman.

The queue was moving painfully slowly and people only seemed to be receiving service at one of the counters.

To pass the time I inspected my account and noted the six percent “rural electrification” fee which reflects on the new A4-sized Zesa bill every month.

The subject of rural electrification was cause for embarrassment just a few days before. How shameful it was to hear acting President Joice Mujuru on ZBCTV admitting that computers given to Lubimbi High School in Binga were still lying idle seven years after they had been donated to the institution.

Despite the Vice President herself saying the computers had been idle for seven years because there was no electricity at the school, The Herald reported the same story but said the computers had been donated to Lubimbi School in 2008.

Whether it has been four or seven years, it is a crying shame that hundreds of children have not had access to knowledge so critical in the modern world because there is no electricity, not even from that provided for free by the sun and hooked into a solar panel and a few batteries.

Reaching the front of the queue at the Zesa offices I approached the man who was studying a computer screen.

He did not look up or greet me but just pointed his finger in the direction of the other counter.

After handing my bill and money over waiting for my receipt I glanced over at the man looking at the computer screen.

Expecting to see statistics and accounts, I was shocked to see him browsing entries on a social networking site.

It was before nine in the morning this was not during tea or lunch break.

It was very disheartening to see members of the public patiently waiting to be served by someone who was busy browsing social sites on the Internet.

It is ironic that Zesa employees are finding time to browse social networking sites during working hours while computers lie idle in rural schools because there is no electricity.

Zesa must get Chiwanga’s message — they are here to serve us and it is through us paying our bills that pay their salaries. - Cathy Buckle

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