It's a case of tail wagging the dog
Times do change and change they do. I can recall the old times when Parliament was
Parliament and Cabinet was Cabinet.
I mean we looked up to these supernatural mortals with admiration and pride as we expected them to come up with solutions to every conceivable problem besetting us. Not today though, when the tail seems to be wagging the dog, as they say.
I mean it is now clear that the fourth estate (the media) is the one bringing up the issues and civil society, and sometimes Parliament, makes the desired noises, either as petitions or protest actions or motions in the case of Parliament; and government engages the panic button and runs helter-skelter trying to put out the fires.
It is now clear to everyone that government is no longer in control. Government has lost the moral ground to govern and it would take a miracle to restore public confidence after making numerous injudicious decisions on its part.
As can be expected; respect, confidence and integrity are earned not commanded. This is the dilemma facing our leadership today.
One of the few injudicious decisions characterising the current Cabinet, the E31m land saga (after an expose by the media) attracted the ire of civil society; and by extension Parliament.
After a long and arduous probe by a Parliamentary Select Committee that resulted in the line minister breaking down in Parliament, the deal was finally reversed.
This was not without a fight from Cabinet though. The net result of this was that it left Cabinet with egg on its face.
Then there was the ‘land scam’, as reported by the media again, where ministers of the Crown allocated themselves prime land at hugely discounted rates. Again, here civil society cried foul, awakening the sleeping giant of Parliament which sprang into action.
And that again was quashed by the restoration of the land to the Crown (at least that is what we were told was to happen - whether this eventually happened I don’t know as one of the benefactors was on record saying that the directive from the throne was not to the effect that the land was to be restored).
Anyway, for the sake of peace, I will assume it was. In this one instance Parliament was very vocal (I don’t know if this was motivated by the fact that the honourable ones were left out of the booty) but, be that as it may, the honourable members’ tenacity and enthusiasm in fighting this one was welcomed by civil society.
The MPs, as we know, wanted to go further and censor Cabinet for this act but the day was saved by His Majesty when he ordered the matter to be closed.
Unfortunately, while this spelt relief for the prime minister and his colleagues, it left Parliament and civil society high and dry.
The matter, as most people would have it, was not resolved to the point of getting closure; however, the nation accepted that the ‘lion had roared’ and as such it had to be put to rest. And that, in my assessment, was a close call for Cabinet. Again this dented their image in a big way.
The final nail in the coffin assaulting Cabinet’s integrity and that of Parliament was to be Finance Circular No.1 of 2010, an instrument that is the mother of all unrest and protests in the country. This as we understand it was put in place by Cabinet and Parliament.
I mean it is clear that they were going to benefit from it. Not that this was a bad idea, but the timing of its implementation and its impact on the fiscus raised a lot of questions.
Again, here the fourth estate was at the forefront, giving civil society revelations of the mouth-watering perks that are contained in it.
Calls for its removal have fallen on deaf ears until recently at the height of the stand-off with civil servants calling for a cost-of-living increase; when we gather there may be a movement afoot in the direction of removing or reviewing it. Not even the intervention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to have it removed could persuade government to quash it.
The Prime Minister is on record saying they will not increase the civil service payroll in terms of the IMF dictates but omits to comply with IMF dictates in removing the circular.
This seems to me to be a case of selective obedience; which in my books amounts to no obedience at all, just like when the biblical Saul was instructed by Samuel to destroy his enemies and all their livestock, but he on his part chose to destroy some but spare the good ones.
Again, if Circular No. 1 eventually is removed, it would be another case of the tail wagging the dog; a milestone for the tail once again.
This is not a very good state of affairs. Civil society expects those in authority to lead from the front and not be dictated to by the mood of those they lead.
It is only when the leadership has run out of ideas that the ‘tails’ take over the role of wagging the dog, by filling the vacuum created by the ineptitude of their leaders; and when that happens the question that begs for answers is why the taxpayers should continue sustaining the lavish lifestyles of the leaders?
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