Life would be a lot easier if the country’s economy wasn’t in the hands of pass office officials – transmogrified from the old regime into some other role but still clearly recognisable – aided and abetted by automated morons.
The problem no doubt isn’t peculiar to South Africa, though the apartheid system was fertile ground for petty bureaucrats whose main objective was to make life miserable for as many people as possible.
As to automated morons, they are a product of the 21st century – the call centre possibly based at the other side of the globe. But the problem in this case is not the people who eventually take the calls, but how to navigate the options in order to press the appropriate number in order to eventually reach those people.
Staying on the line for an operator isn’t always one of the options available.
The need to resort to call centres is often prompted by inefficient service in the first place – for instance two billing mistakes by Telkom in the past few months. Rectifying the problem in each case required extended periods on the phone moving from option to option, routed from person to person and then, in the end, not knowing whether the mistake had been rectified. Or whether I would eventually have a debt collector at the door.
Another form of societal obstruction comes with the requirements of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica).
Introduced as a weapon against money laundering and organised crime about 10 years ago, it has done little to address either, judging by the state of what is clearly money laundering and organised crime conducted at a very high level – including by a former police commissioner, among others.
What Fica has achieved is a thriving industry in identity theft. The money launderers and organised criminals no doubt have little difficulty manipulating the system. Its main function therefore is to drive law abiding citizens mad.
And the staff at the major banks compound the problem – enter the pass office syndrome in its modern form.
My recent attempts to notify the bank of a change of address required a series of visits. On each occasion the “pass office official” identified a problem and each time I returned with that problem rectified a different person identified a different problem and sent me away again.
And the absence of service was invariably provided with apathy or passive resistance.
Two other people using my old address had the same experience at other major banks. Turning out a new generation of “pass office officials” seems to be an industry practice.
Given this experience I’m not surprised the economy can’t grow at more than 2 percent a year.
The question is: to what extent can employer organisations motivate people? Are the non-performers being moulded by a lack of motivation on the part of the people who train them? Does the root of the problem lie in the classroom, with teachers who are themselves either pass office officials or automated morons?
Or does the answer lie in individuals who don’t understand their own power to influence the course of their lives?
The next question is: why is it easier to spend the day bored and unmotivated than to tackle a job with energy and something approaching enthusiasm in order to escape the boring job and move onto something better – and better paid?
Perhaps it’s due to a wide-scale failure of imagination: the inability to connect cause with effect; action or lack of action with the consequences.