Wanted: real civil servants

It is generally believed in Africa that a political office is a sure wa


y of becoming rich quick, and rising to a high position in the army, police, the judiciary or civil service opens the way to acquiring wealth.
Politicians, high civil servants, top army and police officers are among the main beneficiaries of the recent “land redistribution”. They are now running their newly acquired farms from a distance by cell phone.
That politicians are given lucrative non-executive directorships and seats on company boards is not unknown even elsewhere in the world. In some countries members of parliament and ministers of government are obliged to reveal their business interests and the industrial shares they own.


But despite much abuse today, originally we had a different concept of what public service should be, an ethos and a moral vision, which we badly need now.
In this view civil servants are respected for the service they render to the state and the general public. It is considered an honour to be an honest and reliable servant working for the common good and not just in one’s own self-interest.
The civil servant does not aim at maximizing profit and acquiring great wealth. In turn he/she is given security of tenure and a guaranteed life-long income, including a good pension.


The idea that civil servants run businesses or engage in farming in their spare time (or even their working hours) is foreign to the described ethos of public service. In our country it is traditionally and culturally assumed that everyone is a farmer, regardless of what other occupation a person may have.


This may be practically possible as far as subsistence farming is concerned. It is no longer true for modern commercial farming which needs specialist training, much technical and managerial experience and a total commitment to farming 24 hours a day. Farming is not a way to get rich quick. Land without a class of professional farmers yields nothing.
We need public servants who give themselves entirely to the service of the state and its people, and we need farmers who sink roots in their land and are watching over their crops and life stock, and taking care of their workers, all round the clock.


Zimbabwe needs a second liberation, freeing us from greed and hunger for power, from violence and fear. Part of this second liberation will be the rebuilding of the public service, giving civil servants pride in serving their country and fellow citizens.


A civil servant is not someone who greedily grabs part of the state’s resources for himself. A true civil servant is happy to be able to serve the people whom he respects as his employers, even if they are poor and not so well educated. A complete transformation of our minds is needed. – Oskar Wermter, In Touch Jesuit Communications

Post published in: Opinions

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