Working For the Jamaican Government

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 30th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

A short and not very sweet example of life in a Kakistocracy

The Basics

One might ponder how Jamaica became a Kakistocracy, not a Kleptocrasy or just another corrupt state. To fully comprehend what it is like to live in a place where corruption IS the form of governance I give you a snapshot. I reflect on the short time I worked for Government. At the Ministry of Justice. (Shades of 1984!)

As previously stated, saying Jamaica and Justice in the same sentence is like saying Freezing Heat or Heavenly Hell. For there is no Justice in Jamaica; at least not the kind that has to do with law and rights and constitution, etc. However, I assure you, Jamaica actually has a Ministry of Justice; (very similar to that of 1984).

What I am about to transcribe is absolutely true to the extent I could testify to it in a real courtroom in a real country.

The Ministry of Justice

I was hired on a temporary basis, as are all Government Employees. My hours were to be from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. On my first day I arrived before 8:30. I waited alone outside of a locked building until about 9:05 when the first person arrived. She was a snotty thing and I asked if she wasn't Mrs. C, my direct boss. She snapped at me saying she wasn't, and I should wait.

Later I learned the snotty thing was the most powerful person in every Jamaican Government office; the helper. Miss Snot was the person who was to clean the office, make the tea, and run errands. Although she was the lowest paid, as most helpers, she made up the deficit by stealing, by using supplies, and by her crappy attitude which made the others, from the most senior, to the newbie, have to deal with her very cautiously.

I waited outside until about 9:20 when the other employees of this government office arrived and went in. I followed. I asked one of them where Mrs. C's office was and it happened to be Mrs. C herself. She was very nice. She directed me to my work station, told me what I was supposed to do, and had someone 'walk me through' the day.

At 4:00 my work was over and I sat around watching the clock until Mrs. C said I could leave at 4:15.

The next day I arrived for work at 9:30 and went directly to my desk and began doing my job, assisted by my 'mentor'. I left the office at 4:00.

By the following week I was on my own and had the job under control.

I didn't take my lunch hour, I worked through it so that I could leave early. Hence my working day for government began at 9:30 and ended at 3:30 on some days, 4:30 on rare occassions.

Everyone in the office was seriously underworked. Some more than others. Some would take an hour's work and drag it on for three. Some did virtually nothing all day.

I actually worked and was actually commended and asked to perform a specific function which was fairly crucial. It had never been done before although it was obviously necessary.

The fact I was commended and given more reponsibility made me the most hated person in the office.

Self Protection

Helpers are the most powerful persons in an office. They can decide when to clean it, so that the Minister will have to stand in the hall way. They will decide if/when they will serve you your coffee, and how putrid it will be. They will mess up your work when you leave, steal...for example, each person got their very own roll of toilet paper. You can imagine how stealing one's roll would effect them.

Miss Snot was a particularly unpleasant creature. I took to making my own coffee, announcing that "Miss Snot has enough work, I can make my own coffee!" as if I were being kind instead of protecting myself from poisoning.

When one of the more senior people noticed that those who did the same job as I were 50% less productive he complained, and one of the laziest people in the building was livid in that she had to work at least five hours a day, (up from three).

The point was, I finished all my work each day before I left. There was not a single thing remaining to be done. Hence the fact that I worked from 9:30 to 3:30 is in stark contrast to those who might leave an hour later, but have to finish when they came in at 9:30; not begin a new project.

I knew that traps would be laid for me, so refused to get the combination of the Safe, refused to collect any money, and always left before everyone else.

The Trap

I came in one day and it was silent. I was told Mrs. C wanted to see me. I came to her office, she asked me to sit, she gave me the long version of disclaimer, The fact was that money was missing from the Safe.

At the time I could fly off the handle pretty good, so did. I made a loud proclaimation of 1) Not having the combination, 2) never being near the Safe, 3) leaving at 2:45 with everyone still in the building. I demanded to know when the money went into the safe, who put it there, and other questions she wasn't about to answer.

By eavesdropping and other such practices, I learned the money was received shortly after I left for the day. The money was to go to the bank at 8:30 (hence Mrs. C. had to be there when the government agents came to pick it up) and that the money was very short.

I stayed out of the front lines. Two persons would 'pay it back' and be transferred to Montego Bay. Not fired, not arrested, not anything, except transferred.

I didn't say anything.

Subsequently the most Senior Person called me to complain about how I came late and left early. By this time I had one foot out the door anyway, so confronted him, said what I felt like. I intended to turn down a permanent appointment if offered. Hence, I could be honest.

I left Government Service.
That was Thirty years ago.


You can't call a government office before 9:30 and expect to speak to anyone. The same 'working hours' of 8:30 - 4:30 are stipulated, the same coming in at 9:30 and leaving by 4:00 is in practice.

No one answers a phone at a government office before 9:00. 9:15 is the earliest one can expect. Phone are not answered after 3:30 at many places. Hence, if you need to speak to anyone who works for Government you call at 9:45 - to 11:45, then from 2:15 to 3:30. This is because lunch may be from 12 - 1 or 1- 2 but everyone takes the two hours.

The Helper is still the most powerful person at a Government Office. She does what she pleases when she pleases and anyone who says anything anti her pro is in for a very hard ride. They will find their office furniture missing, lights not working, computers permanently down, something stink in a corner, a broken air conditioner, etc.

In every office there is at least two unnecessary people. These are not the special 'consultants' (political pals, slams, relatives who are supported by the public purse) these are people who fill positions which have no real work associated with it.

Persons who are highly qualified but are not politically appointed, slams, or relatives, are not hired. Those who work for the Ministry of Justice, for example, are not supposed to listen to evidence but to find as many people guilty as possible, save those who have to be found not guilty. Certain persons have to be found Not Guilty regardless of the evidence because of political connection, that they are slams, relatives or are rich.

Persons who do not respond as required will never be promoted. They may fill a position when it is impossible to get rid of them, but will never be promoted. It is hoped if the Helper and others make this victim uncomfortable enough s/he will resign.

Persons who are 'useful' to those in power will be promoted. In many cases the most senior person is the least competent but the most corrupt.

This is why Jamaica is a Kakistocracy.


1984, Corruption, Jamaica, Kakistocracy, Ministry Of Justice, Theft

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author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar M G Singh
30th Apr 2014 (#)

Very interesting

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
30th Apr 2014 (#)

most interesting indeed kaylar...

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author avatar Mariah
30th Apr 2014 (#)

Wow kaylar..what a set up that was, thankfully you ain't nobody's fool.. held your own and stood your ground.. so they backed off.
Really interesting reading, and quite a shocking eye opener.
thanks for a great share.

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author avatar kaylar
30th Apr 2014 (#) is absolutely true. I have a few more interesting tidbits

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author avatar Mariah
30th Apr 2014 (#)

Bring them on

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
1st May 2014 (#)


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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
2nd May 2014 (#)

So many shady governments for sure

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author avatar kaylar
3rd May 2014 (#)

And we aren't hiding it either

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th May 2014 (#)

It is a shame you were treated that way. I held a similar position working as a temp. They ran out of things for me to do, but decided not to hire me because I did not have the right college degree -- officially -- because I made other employees look bad was the real reason. And it is too bad. I am not able to comprehend why businesses would rather keep stealing, lying cheats who work as little as possible than those who work hard and value the company as much as their compensation. Thanks for sharing -- it is frustrating, but I am glad to hear I am not alone with these experiences.

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author avatar kaylar
29th May 2014 (#)

I was not planning to stay, I actually could have but having ambition, I went on to greener pastures.

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