Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

I did not know I will have to write a sequel, that is why I did not call Part 1 Part 1. I have labelled this text Part 2 because it relates to my earlier text titledĀ The albatross of having to meet which I wrote a month ago. I shall, henceforth, refer to the earlier text as Part 1.

The article I wrote about how burdensome it is to have to meet someone (Part 1) was prompted by a Facebook Friend who requested to meet me. Due to a growing list of request for social meetings, I decided to write some text so I can refer to it anyone who requests to meet with me. In way, they will know that I am not avoiding them but I am generally disinclined to setup social meetings and attend them.

Yesterday, a Linken In contact (LinkedIn is a social network for flaunting achievements) asked to meet me this week because he is in the country. I agreed and we met today. This article is;

  • 1% prompted by the meeting with him (and his associate),
  • 19 % prompted by all the previous similarly awkward interactions and
  • 80% prompted by the desire to avoid such awkwardness in future (by referring people to it)

A look at my profile on any social network, or a cursory google of my name, will show that I serve in the public service (as of August 2013). Notwithstanding the misleading job title I may have, I am more useless than I may seem.

I have had lots of acquaintances asking me for jobs which usually ends with me giving them my email address in order to send me their CV so I can let them know “if something comes up.” Either too few people believe that I am useless to find a job for a person or some people are just persistent and the only way to get out is to give my email so they can send a CV to me. I never really know what to do with the CV once I receive it.

The awkward part of this is that I am aware of how bad the unemployment situation is in the country. I have friends and family members who are unemployed whose daily struggle to make ends meet stares me in the face. A close friend called Phillip, who is a Chemical Engineer, has been unemployed for over a year now. It is heartbreaking to watch him and his family struggle as they do. Another close friend called Agrippa, who is a Public Relations practitioner, has also been unemployed for almost 2 years now. The two very close friends of mine have qualifications in their fields and many years of experience, but I am useless in finding them anything. If I was useful in finding jobs for people, I may have started with one of these two. So when a person calls or sends a message asking for a job, I do empathise with their situation. I try to point out that it is a waste of time to ask for my help on that, but if they do not believe me, I am left with no choice but to take the CV.

Before, I proceed let me explicitly point out the obvious in order to assist the reader to read both Part 1 and Part 2 of this article. A facebook friend is an acquaintance that I have connected with through Facebook and have either never met in real life or have spent too little time around them in total. An acquaintance is someone I know too little about to call a friend and in most cases they would also know too little about me. A friend is someone I know a lot about and have had extended interaction with them including through social networks. A friend also tends to know a lot about me. A close friend is like family, I need not elaborate what family is. This should help the reader understand the preceding paragraph better and both articles in the right context too.

There are also meeting requests from entrepreneurs. They mostly hope to get three things out of me;

  • assist them get business where I work,
  • assist them in expanding their network of politicians or public servants by introducing them to my contacts (who in turn may help them get business) or
  • point them in a direction where they can business

Again all this I am useless. Their time would be better spent watching the wind blow than meet with me about these.

I cannot assist anyone get business where I work because I do not know how that happens and who is involved in that. I am also generally disinterested in that kind of detail because some of the time it may or may not appear in the Mail and Guardian many years later when I least expect it and least desire it. But besides the newspapers, even in my attempt at political activism in my youth, I have happily avoided positions that include financial responsibility such as Treasurer or Finance Officer. My experience and observation is that money tends to be a magnet for dishonest people. This does not substitute for the fact that the majority of people dealing in money are honest people. But given a choice, I prefer staying away from any such association. So meeting me for this kind of help is useless.

That I am disinclined to meeting people as outlined in Part 1, is evidence that I am also no use in introducing people to my contacts. I generally relate to other public servants about work and only if I have no other way of getting a task fulfilled without interacting with one. It would be really odd to start introducing colleagues that I only know by email to acquaintances that I only know by their silence on Facebook.

The same goes for politicians. I have never served in any official position in the ANC or its alliance partners. I am just an ordinary branch member of the ANC. However, the maximum I have served in the ANCYL was a paltry Branch Chairperson. I also happened to serve in another gigantic MDM structure, SASCO, whose service is generally thankless (Yes, it is thankless because Sasco is not a preparatory school to any organisation. But it is a school nonetheless.). As such, I do not have a phonebook full of important politicians in high positions of authority that I can introduce anyone to.

Indeed I do know a few politicians. But among those that I know, either I do not know them enough to introduce them to other people or I know them enough to know they don’t like being introduced to entrepreneurs.

Similarly, I have a cousin called Chris, who resigned at his job in January 2012 to go start a business with associates and be an entrepreneur. Due to lack of timely payment from government and/or its entities, I recently heard him whisper something about updating his CV because his offspring cannot eat a broken “pay within 30 days” promise of government. If I was any useful, I would have either helped him get his payments on time or help him get more business to keep his company running. But the truth is I am useless.

The most awkward thing about being useless is trying to explain to a person who overrates you that you are not as useful as they think. It is difficult because at the same time, you need to have your dignity intact after explaining how useless you are. It is also difficulty because you need to illustrate that being useless in what a person is asking for is not a function of your unwillingness to help them.

I am useless in helping anyone get a job a government. I do not know anything more than what is in the circular on the DPSA website. I am also useless in helping entrepreneurs get tenders. I do not even know where those are found. I am also useless in introducing people to politicians as I do not know that many myself.

I am so useless that I need help myself. If you know anyone who can employ Phillip or Agrippa please let me know. Also if you know anyone who can assist Chris with financing their business or giving them more work, let me know.

I could share what I try to be useful in, as it relates to politics and the public service but it is not the subject of this text. Thank you for your understanding.

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