Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ministry Seeks Consultant To Show People How To Wash Hands

‘You don’t work full time, but only when needed. The rest of your time is spent idle by the pool quaffing decorative named drinks that come with tiny umbrellas while, whoever hired you struggles to find the stacks of money to pay you’. That’s my definition of a consultant. 

On the flip, Business Directory defines it as: “An experienced professional who provides expert knowledge for a fee. Consultant works in an advisory capacity and is usually not accountable for the outcome of a consulting exercise.” The key words to note are “…not accountable for...”

I met IMF Consultant who was attached to Ministry of Finance just before the millennium broke and who was consulting on stuff way beyond my level of education I think he was in town for face-to-face meetings in case, he 'took away the blanket at the end of the month.' The consultations ‘necessitated’ him having a grand five bed-roomed crib in Muyenga along with Driver, car and many other perks befitting of IMF Consultant from outside countries.

If he did go to MoF to consult along with drinking coffee and nibbling on House of Manji biscuits, it was for a few hours in the mornings and was usually done by 11:00am - to sojourn for the rest of the day in a pub which, is now occupied by Barclays Bank at Tank Hill Shopping Parade in Muyenga.  

In the eleven months he consulted, he was on a hefty US dollar stipend that by the time his contract came to a demise, he told us how he had earned enough to buy a small boat to sail to the South of France to ‘idle away the rest of his life chasing skirt and drinking beer’. 

My calling as a consultant came in the days of yore with the defunct Air Uganda. But wait, why would they want me as a consultant? The only thing I know about airlines is listening out for the clinking of bottles and cans which, is the all-important indication that the booze trolley has left the ‘depot’ at the back of the plane and would shortly land by my side.

When I eventually met Zungu CEO, he was to the point. “TB, we are one of the sponsors of Miss Uganda and we need you to advise us and look after our interests.” I wanted to ask “to advise on what exactly – how to leer at Contestant during the swim wear category”, but thought twice about biting the hand that’s going to feed me on day one of the contract.

Once the contest was over, we didn’t part company. They kept me on almost up until the airline closed. In the three years with them, I consulted on err, nothing really but, still got paid. When I did have to work, it was flying to Zanzibar, Dar-es-saalam and Mombasa on fact finding missions which, were always conducted from a sun lounger by the pool along with an ice-cold beer in hand. Hmm, the things I had to do to get paid.

Recently, the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Water and Environment – let’s call him Okot Okidi for arguments sake, placed an ad in New Vision looking for Consultant to spearhead the activities of the National Hand Washing Initiative – ‘to manage the National Hand washing secretariat including capacity building of stakeholders, coordination of the hand washing campaign…’

Let me do away with the civil servant mumbo jumbo language and say it in plain black and white. Permanent Secretary wants somebody to travel the country showing people how to wash hands. I didn’t waste time in applying even though, they want someone with a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, environmental health, mass communication, social sciences plus a Master’s degree in public health – all qualifications that I don’t have.

Come on Permanent Secretary, do I really need all those qualifications just to show people in kyalo how to lather up their hands with soap, rub together, place under borehole, dip in Lake Victoria or River Nile, rinse and dry?!? Jeez, I have been washing my hands since I was a toddler and trust me, I certainly don’t need a Master’s degree in public health to do the job so, just give it to me.

By the way, I selfishly wrote this column after the closing date for applications which, was on November 1st because I don’t have a ‘godfather or godmother’ at the ministry to pull strings for me if you get my drift and I didn’t want competition from peeps who might actually have the qualifications Permanent Secretary is looking for.

Pictures: New Vision, Agencies

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