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No new dispensation at Makombe Building

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I hate visiting government offices because of the unpleasant encounters I always have with front-office staff and senior government officials. Petty officialdom, and crass rudeness are some of the experiences I have had dealing with government officials. I am not the only one; other members of the public have had similar experiences too.

Last week I went to the Home Affairs offices to get an identification document for my daughter. The experience was a carbon copy of most of my encounters with this office over the past three decades. Nothing has changed. The mantra of a “New Dispensation” has not yet arrived at the passport offices. In fact, I was convinced I would meet the rude and officious Tobaiwa Mudede, (the former Director General) in the Makombe Building corridors!

As we moved from one office to another l found myself wondering what President Mnangagwa’s “New Dispensation” means. What values and principles drive the so-called “New Dispensation”? What is the big vision thing for this “New Dispensation”?  I have a vague recollection of pronouncements of Zimbabwe being a middle-income country in the near future. But l am clear about the chasm between these political platitudes and the reality on the ground.

But I digress.

We were treated with disdain and rank rudeness by the majority of the staff handling the processing of documents. It was as if smiling and politeness were illegal in these dirty and stinking offices and corridors.  I told my daughter that poor salaries and unhygienic working conditions of the staff might explain the way they treated us. As a Gen-Z my daughter was not impressed by the pushing, shoving and rudeness and she was not getting involved.

Her revulsion at the filth, abuse and rudeness gave me hope. Perhaps her generation will change this country by living a new set of values of love, compassion, courtesy, efficiency and politeness. By extension my generation would perhaps be forgiven for our collective acts of commission and omission in Zimbabwe’s rapid decline. We would have done well to have raised the generation that would put right our grave errors.

But before then, the introduction of rudimentary technology might help at the Makombe offices regarding processing of applications for identity documents. Why not provide for online submission of application forms instead of having the staff filling in forms for members of the public as they wait? Why not introduce shifts so that not every staff member takes lunch breaks at the same time while members of the public wait and waste precious productive hours? Clean offices might be a good start to enlisting civil treatment of members of the public!

There were moments of humour though. One lady with her face mask under her chin was turning away anyone without a mask. We were grateful for the lady who was smiling generously as she completed our forms; she didn’t have a mask. And, the gentleman who showed us where to go while facing and walking in the opposite direction gave us some comic relief.

The excitement of receiving an identity document after a long wait, sometimes as long as days or even weeks, was palpable for parents and all at the Makombe complex. The identity document is vital for so many things in everyday life. It is no exaggeration these documents are a source of dignity and respect, the same virtues that staff at Home Affairs strip off citizens through their uncongenial conduct.

In Conversation with Ken Sharpe

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Ken Sharpe, the CEO and Chairman of WestProp Zimbabwe says a near-death skiing accident in Canada changed his life. He says he emerged from 5 days in a coma with a strong conviction that he was created for a purpose and that he should serve God. After the accident he started serving God and growing his business in the property and construction industry. With 36 Court cases in the last 2 years, Ken Sharpe dismisses allegations of improprieted and maintains he has never paid a bribe to government officials. In his own words, he believes, “The wind blows strongest against the tallest trees”. With so much controversy around him especially for the construction of the incomplete airport road he sits down on Incwt to answer key questions around corruption in the property world and receiving a tender without bidding. Watch the Ken Sharpe episode here

In Conversation with Memory Nguwi

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Don’t miss the next episode with Human Resources Consultant Mr Memory Nguwi in conversation with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
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