Monday, June 27, 2011

The King's Diary: Allowances Rock.

Dear Me:

With great bemusement do I follow the debate about allowances in Parliament. So much ado about nothing!

Widespread reliance on allowances is a cornerstone of the TKP’s rule. The ability to hand out allowances at will creates loyalty. Lower cadres are motivated to follow their bosses in the expectation of being ‘rewarded’ with the opportunity to attend a lucrative workshop. Bosses, in turn, are loyal to their superiors for fear of losing attractive benefits associated with foreign trips and positions on the boards of parastatals or high level working groups. Allowances thus create obedience and allow dissent to be easily spotted and punished.

The downside of the TKPs reliance on allowances is that a culture has emerged where work evolves around creating opportunities for yet another workshop, training or trip. Delivering services has become of secondary concern. Loyalty clearly comes at a price. A price the TKP is happy to pay by the way.

The culture of allowances is so widespread that these days even university students demand allowances to ‘sit’ for lectures. The benefits are so lucrative that civil society –those who constantly moan and groan about the TKP, remain silent on this issue. They prefer to benefit from its spoils rather than to address it.

The power of allowances in forging loyalty to the TKP is well illustrated by the inability of opposition MPs to make any real progress on the issue. They make a lot of noise, certainly, but that is about it. This is what makes the current debate so amusing. Only one extravert youngster has dared to state publicly that he prefers not receive the allowances due to him since he is already paid! No other person has joined him. No MP, no journalist and no NGO employee!

Another great thing about allowances is that most expenses are covered by our foreign friends: the donors. In their mistaken belief that services are not delivered because our civil servants lack ‘capacity’ they organize a never-ending stream of workshops and training events. And in their zeal to show ‘results’ they pay civil servants to attend, so that their events are well visited. In this way service delivery continuous to be undermined creating even more need for ‘capacity building’. I love it. It allows the TKP stays in power while spending huge amounts of other people’s money.

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