“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.” – Lord Acton
Thanks to Lord Acton, it is a well known fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Evidence of this fact is clearly seen when one tries to apply for a new passport or ID document at some of Zimbabwe’s offices of the Registrar General. This is why I have been quiet lately. I was sitting in the hot sun in my country listening to bizarre conversations hoping to be served. It’s amazing what a power trip a person can go on when they know they hold all the cards. These are just some of the conversations I overheard there while I waited for hours on end to get a new ID and to renew my passport:
Conversation 1: Woman in a suit comes to apply for a passport
Registrar Employee (RE): Next
Woman in suit walks up to window
RE: (with a look of utter disdain) Why are you wearing a suit? Who here did you come to show off to? You think you are the only person in this queue with a fancy job?Mscheew. What do you want anyway?
Conversation 2: Young Teenage girl
Teen: Good morning (in English)
RE: Why are you speaking to me in English? Is your tongue broken? I will send you to the back of the queue until you learn to speak to people in your own language.
Please note that there were about 100 people in the ID queue. In order to be first in the queue, one must be at the offices by 3am.
Conversation 3: woman with a child on her back
RE: EH Mother! move. move. move. Move to the next row there.
woman steps on the stone seats provided to get to the other side.
RE: MOTHER! WHAT DO YOU THINKYOU ARE DOING? DO YOU STEP ON SEATS IN YOUR OWN HOUSE? MSCHEEEWW. WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS. BEHAVING LIKE A HOOLIGAN HERE. CLEAN THAT SEAT!
Conversation between employees at 1145:
Pregnant RE: I am tired. I feel like these people just keep coming. Plus I’m hungry. At 12 I am done for today. I know a place just down the road where I can get sadza nekanyama to eat.
RE: How will you work after eating sadza.
Pregnant RE: I won’t. I will sleep on the grass behind the building.
At 12 I was next and she stood up and left.
If I had not heard or seen this with my own eyes and ears I would not have believed people would say such things in the course and scope of their employment. I have left some of the worse stuff out and I have not included the stuff that was said to me personally. It’s tough out there.