Festival of silliness at Trade

Festival of silliness at Trade

MUCKRAKER is inconsolable. Once again some spirit has intervened to deny the numbingly bored people of this country a street fight.
Last Wednesday was supposed to be the day when Trade Minister Tefo Mapesela and his irrepressible PS, Thebe Mokoatle, would beat each other to pulp.

They were supposed to take their boardroom squabbles into Kingsway. There they were going to kick, scratch and pinch each other while the people ululated. Business was supposed to come to a standstill as Mapesela unleashed Van Damme kicks on Mokoatle, the man he says has been disrespecting him since he entered office.

We were supposed to marvel as Mokoatle came with his Mayweather blows to knock out Mapesela, the minister who has been haranguing him for weeks. Why that fight did not happen, only Sandawana can say with certainty.
We can only speculate that either Mapesela or Mokoatle chickened out. Suffice to say we have been denied a golden opportunity to witness what would have been a Rumble in Maseru.

Muckraker will keep praying until that fight happens for it is a necessary one. For two reasons. The first is that it could just liven up that dull LNDC Centre. The people there look too busy and too serious for nothing. They seem to take life and themselves too serious. The truth though is that they are just a bored lot.

It must be crushing spending hours working on projects that never get implemented or are instantly sabotaged by politicians who know zilch about anything.  The second reason is that its high time Mapesela and Mokoatle find a physical way to decide who is really powerful in that ministry. It is clear that words and memos have not settled that matter. The doubt lingers.

None of them can claim to have conquered the other. We the spectators have unanswered questions. We just don’t know who is the main man there.
Because we are never there when they dispatch angry memos to each other we will never know who is really the most garrulous. We are not there to judge when they square off in their offices. We are being unjustly denied an opportunity to see where power really lies in that Ministry.
Mapesela says he is the minister and therefore the boss. He also says he has been elected by the people of this country and is therefore justified to have a spring in his step.

Nonsense, says Mokoatle who cannot understand why he should be taking orders from a political figurehead who has read fewer books than him.
Mokoatle says unlike Mapesela he was not hired to give policy direction but to implement policy. In other words he is the doer.
So, according to Mokoatle, the minister should never ever forget that he is the chief accounting officer of the ministry.

Mokoatle is also baffled as to why he has to take instructions from a man who can be reshuffled tomorrow while he has a three-year contract.
Mokoatle thinks he was hired while Mapesela was appointed.
Still their war of words does not assist us in any way. We still don’t have a clear answer as to who is the boss.

If Mapesela was the boss then he should have disciplined Mokoatle by now. That’s what bosses do: they clip wings and get on with the business of managing.
But months later Mapesela is still struggling to get Mokoatle to heed simple instructions like which car to drive. It’s clear that he has dismally failed to put Mokoatle in his place.
Little wonder he had to resort to the old-fashioned tactic of barking instructions at security guards to deal with a problem employee. If he had real power, as he wants us to believe, Mokoatle would have followed his instructions.
If the orders had failed then he could have just kept the Prado’s keys in his office. Yet there Mokoatle was hopping into the Prado and driving it out of the office complex.

That happened for a long time after Mapesela ordered him to keep his behind out of the Prado. The PS was not bothered by the minister’s barking because his chariot was moving. And when the minister eventually ran to the guards the PS was ready to respond with equal mischief.

When the guards became unreasonable, as they are all wont to when under instructions from bosses, Mokoatle simply hopped out of the car and left it at the gate. The result is that there was a jam at the office complex.  If Mapesela has any power he would have simply suspended the PS for insubordination. Instead he grabbed his phone and started whingeing on a local radio station.

By that time Mokoatle had moved on to other issues and was probably rolling on his desk with laughter.
How could he not bellow with laughter after creating such a spectacle that left the minister fuming? He had managed to drive a whole minister up a wall by simply doing what he had been instructed to do: leaving the Prado alone.

In a way Mokoatle was following the minister’s instructions. The minister had said he should stop driving the car and he had just stopped driving it.
Where he had stopped driving it is another matter.
Now we hear the minister has galloped to the Cabinet to report Mokoatle’s tomfoolery. That is not how problems are solved in this country.
That is not how Mapesela and Mokoatle used to deal with disputes when they were herding cattle. The tried and tested solution is to roll up the sleeves and rearrange each other’s faces.

But because Mapesela likes to run his mouth on radio we will never get to witness the fight.

Make no mistake about it. Both men are right. Mapesela cannot be faulted for wanting to save the overtaxed taxpayers a few coins on fuel.
Indeed the Prado is a thirsty vehicle especially when driven in a congested town like Maseru.

Frugal people are always a breath of fresh air in a government teeming with people hell bent on munching every penny.
Mokoatle too is right to reject the minister’s instruction to stop using the car.
The minister has no business dealing with small things like which car should be on the road. It is Mokoatle who is responsible for that as the chief accounting officer of the ministry.

Make no mistake. Both men are horrible wrong as well.
Both have no business arguing over mundane things like cars in a ministry that should be working on bringing investors into the country.
They must be helping the country to trade but they are trading in nonsense. Do they need fertilizer to grow.

Such kindergarten is not fit for even a mom and pop shop.
But their high jinks should not shock us for we know that the elite of this country can be brazenly petty when they want to be. No argument or fight is beneath them.

Every little dispute is a platform to measure strength and acumen. What we are seeing at the Ministry of Trade is just a sneak peek into how people behave in offices. We have small children with big titles. We all have people we would like to avoid in our offices.
Little-minded persons who haven’t conquered their insecurities.

Breasted women and bearded men always on the verge of bursting. You ask them where the stapler is and they think you are accusing them of stealing. You ask them where they had gone and they think you are bossing them around.

Ask them for that overdue report and they think you are out to get them. Announce that you are leaving their company and they think you are being ungrateful and they drag you to court mumbling some mumbo jumbo about some fiduciary duties they hardly understand.
Remember, how two judges fought over seniority a few years ago? Holy crap!

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