Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Gatekeeping Thing

An incident with the security guard who opens and closes the gate to the compound where my university-owned condo is situated got me to thinking.

Why is there so much bureaucracy in post-apartheid South Africa?

"You need a thing to open the gate on your own," the guard said to me.


"So in all this time that you have opened the gate I have needed a thing," I replied with irritated sarcasm.

It was early morning. The guard was flashing a stern attitude.

"What thing," I asked.

"This kind of a thing," he said showing me a remote control.

"I don't want that thing," I said trying to press the point that it is one more thing for me to lose.

"But you are the only one," he said firmly.

"Where do I get it from," I asked.

"I don't know," he said with a vacant stare.

"You can't be serious. You want me to get a thing but you don't know from where?

"Yes I am seriaz. If you come home today I won't open the gate for you," he warned.

Well bowl me over.

The gatekeeper is seriaz.

I guess the fees I pay for his service includes the nicety of being threatened over a thing.

This incident is just one of too many similar idiocies I can relate. South Africa is defined by bureaucratic tape that parades as if it is meaningful structure.

I spent a lot of time after getting to work trying to figure out where to get the thing.

I went to an office where things are kept but it was closed.

I returned after an hour and a telephone conversation with the chief in charge of security things.

The office was still closed.

What the hell hey?

I think that a lot of red-tape is needed to hide the fact that we are just without a f*cking clue.

In addition to being a rude nation we are also very much an inept one.

I could go on but I need to go get that thing.

I bet the person(s) in charge of that thing is most likely out for the day ... perhaps even the week?


Image Credit


Eugene said...

The things are kept by the whatchamacallits in the place. You know...the place.

Ridwan said...

You nailed it right brother Eugene.

How are things over ... you know, there?



Eugene said...

Things are pretty well, here.

I was right, though, wasn't I? Right next to the whatchamacallit in the place.

How things going with you? Gonna buy a motorcycle, are you. You can probably get good airfare for that thing too when you come to visit again.

Dade said...

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than this kind of runaround.

You should remarkable restraint, Ridwan.

Ridwan said...

Hey Eugene good to know you are well brother.

Even if I cashed in my monopoly money pension fund here in SA I would not be able to buy that Triumph.

I posted too soon ;)

I am however writing my resignation letter over and over in my head and by the end of this year it should be finalized.

So yeah I will be seeing you in the rain capital :)

Miss you brother!


Ridwan said...

Hey Dade!

There is no rhyme or reason for this kind of crap.

The stupidvisor of the gatekeeper called me to say that I should have known about the thingie even if no notices were ever sent out.

I just give up.

This episode comes on the heels of a two year struggle to get my SA license recognized by the new SA authorities.

In the end they would not recognize the old SA license but they do recognize my US license.

And on it goes ...

I trust you are well my brother. Please pass my greetings to Maty.


Cartmanslover said...

If you haven' t been to the Home Affairs department or a goverment hospital or a police station or heck, let' s throw in the supermarket in South Africa, count yourself among the lucky ones. This place is like zombieville. You' re right, all that red tape is to cover up the FACT that nobody knows what the hell is going on.

On friday, I decided to get my registration process rolling. And I did this, with much hesitation as I knew full well that the South African working week starts on a tuesday and ends on a thursday. I took my forms to the faculty administrator(who by the way had no idea that she is indeed the faculty administrator- I suspect she was thrown off completely by the word administrator as she is only familiar with "officer") at 9am. Also with much hesitation and anxiety did I decide to do this as I knew very well that the South African work day starts at 10am and ends at 2pm.

So the faculty administrator sent me to some other lady whom she called by her nickname to get a form that contained all my results.She called this form a registration form. Uhm, I might be mistaken but I think in the sane parts of the world, that' s called an academic record (which I had already obtained from examinations after much struggle and shown to her...oh and attached to my academic record was a form written REGISTRATION FORM RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE!).Anyway I trekked my way to the building where this form-printing woman was apperently situated. I knocked on several doors of course which had no names on them...and what use would those names have been to me anyway...unless, at this varsity,you are formally addressed by your nickname.

After cosulting with four people,I found her- Poppy.She said:"Hey, go back to that woman and tell her that she' s the one who should print out for you." And so I went back. When I got to "that woman" she said:"Hey but she' s so lazy, heish ok, I'll print but she can also print out for you coz I'm still printing my 'thingz'." There's that awful word again.

So, by the grace of God I finally got that 'thing'. That 'thing' that I already had and already showed her. Much more happened but I'm too exhausted, as I think you are too, to continue.

At Home Affairs, I was second in line, and had waited for a good 1,5 hrs or assistance. When the clogged arteries...sorry, I meant the school of morbidly obese amoeba...Ok ok the women (I give credit where credit is due so I can't call them civil servants) had finished licking the pork banger grease off their fingers, I was called. As this lump dug out the bits of deep fried carcus buried under her nails, she burped:"Ya, what?" I immediately dumbed myself down and massacred my pronunciation and accent to sound like my English was just as broken as hers was, therefore she needn' t allow her inferiority complex to interfere with her assisting me. It works all the time in SA so I thought I would get what I needed- no problems. I answered:"Eh, ma, I need passport plis mama, for maybe going away to there." She replied:"Why? Where? There? O ok so you think yor better ne, fine go!go away from here!go there!where you wana go?America? They hate you there.But it' s fine. But you have id mos so you donneed, what' s that 'thing' you call? You donneed that'thing' man. NEXT!"

And that was that.

Ridwan said...

Cartmanslover this is a brilliant expose.

You know that "thing" well!

The question is how does one survive the rot?

It seems/is so endemic to out post-reality.

Everything is about processes that go nowhere and forms that must be filled in only to get lost.

A great deal of time is spent just figuring out how to process the process.

And when the balance is tallied so much time is lost. Meaningful time that could be spent doing more constructive tasks.

Each morning when I get to my office there are emails about emails that need to be read from this or that administrator.

In each email about an email the emphasis is on processing forms.

I need not to read my email at the university.

It would be a manner of survival. Too much information about nothing leads to anxiety.

It is an existential dilemma.

I don't want anymore information about "things" that must be processed on forms (vorme) for the hell of being seen to be busy.

We don't create because we are too busy with appearing busy.

Our pretentious post-apartheid condition ;)