McNULTY: “West Baltimore is dying and you empty suits are running around to pin some politician’s pelt to the wall. Thought you was real police, brother” (The Wire Season 2, Episode 13).
There is in this day and age lots of appointed government officials, they work supposed to be diligent and with honour of the codes of their work, not work directly for the ones that appointed them. That cannot always be easy as the station and the position would not been opened or given to the person if the appointee didn’t give that extended hand or blessing for the job. When you have that situation you need a strong state and strict regulatory regime that counter the possible backhand and kickbacks to the ones that appointed them.
Why do I discuss this at this point? Because it is a vital part of our government regimes and is a question that can be asked in nearly all parts of the globe. As all jobs in the branches of government does not automatically goes to the most educated, relied on or the one person who has the most integrity in the position. Instead the man or woman who gets appointed is an “empty suit”.
What some of them might do?
“What typically saves the empty suit is the tenuous relation between what he or she does and any actual business results. This may be a function of the job he’s in: a staff post, with lots of power to nix others’ initiatives but no responsibility to make or sell anything. Or a pocket of avoirdupois in a still-too-fat corporate bureaucracy, the kind of position that causes underlings to scratch their heads and wonder, ”Gee, do we really need all these vice presidents?” Or the empty suit may have come up through a system that rotates fast- trackers through a new job every 18 months, even though the effects of his tenure don’t become evident for two to three years. He hardly had time to get any grounding in the work his people do, and he may have royally screwed up the few decisions he was compelled to make, but when the chickens come home to roost, he has flown. If somebody has the bad taste to try to assign responsibility, the suit can easily fuzz the matter over by suggesting that the blame rests with his successor or former subordinates” (Kiechel, 1989).
There certainly similar like the ones described in our time in every department, every corporation and every single institution we know of. This might be the Electoral Commission of Uganda and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya. As much as the regulatory chairs of the banking industry of Kenya must feel like empty suits these days as the confidence at that is low-key as well. The Chase Bank, The Imperial Bank and National Bank of Kenya have fallen from grace. The most likely selling of the Barclays Bank African Group might also make the fragile banking sector into more disarray as the leading regulators seems like the extra board-members instead of people who uses their position and chair with care and uses the mandate to make a difference and even square.
The situations are different when the appointed is not hired for their knowledge of their field, but the loyalty of the regime or government that is running in the country. The likes of Ministry of Health in Uganda for the moment where the hospitals are creaking and the machines are criss-crossing between life and death. Electricity and other cases of depleted. As the missing extra blood for surgery, the copy-medication and the loss of necessary equipment; that shows the lack of management and reasons for empty suits. The highest empty suit for the moment must be State Minister for Health Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi who seems to be more concern with catching checks then doing his job at this point. This point comes with the correlation of Minster of Health Hon. Elioda Tumwesige and the State Minister for Primary Health Hon. Sarah Opendi Ochieng. One of the three must generate a valued pay-check and makes sure that the NMS delivers the Global Funded projects and the other government funded health care, but either Chris, Elioda or Sarah, one of them or more must be a hired “empty suit” as the three of them are put into ministerial position working for initially the same thing.
It is just like the same mess with the KCCA where you have KCCA Executive Director of Jennifer Musisi. You have Frank Tumbewaze who is both Minister of the Presidency and Kampala Affairs. Then you have the third person who got a mandate the Presidential Advisor for Kampala affairs Mr. Singh Katongole what he does is surely only him and the Executive of Uganda who knows, since his appointment in December 2015 his silence must mean a envelope and letting Hon. Tumbewaze and Hon. Musisi does what they like. To make it more hectic you have the actual people’s elected through the ballot who supposed to run the Kampala Capital City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. So you have hon. Musisi, Hon. Tumbewazi, Hon. Katongole and Lord Mayor Lukwago. All of them are supposed to central people in the running of administration and regulate the divisions of Kampala politically and create policies that builds and secure the functions of KCCA. That must be hectic one of these men and woman must be a empty suit. Unless Hon. Katongole who I haven’t heard a word from since appointment is an ear-to-the ground and talking or addressing letters directly to the Executive or Head of State as his role has still not been served. As the accountability of the NRM-Regime is not strong they prefer keeping people in the dark. Hon. Tumbewaze seems more to be the ones who was appointed to turn opposition Lord Mayor on his knees and therefore also gotten a permanent Executive Director in Musisi to shut down the elected person. But the end-game is that one of them must be an “Empty Suit” as the basic needs cannot be that big, and one of them is catching the brown envelopes without doing anything.
There are certainly more empty suits in the system as I started with the appointed men who is not educated for the position, but are there for the loyalty not because of the office is needed or there for a general purpose. That is the same as extra board-members in a corporation who is hired to vote for the general consensus in the board, but not to generate profits in some sense. They are there because the Corporation and LLC need useful idiots to be paid to follow the remarks of the stakeholders and shareholders, not the common-sense of their position.
We can all question the value of these leaders and honourable men-or-woman in a representative or appointed position by the President for instance. The level of credible men and woman and the need for expertise in the government organisations, into the department and the civic care from the road-development to the health care facilities need men and woman who knows the trade. As long the men does what is needed for the President or for the Stakeholders. The ones that lose are the ordinary person, employee or civil servants as they will either work under them or have to pay them tax-money to keep them. As they have to be paid an envelope to be the empty-dress. The person who is an empty dress doesn’t become that for free. Somebody has to be charge to keep him there. Most likely it is me or you. We can just ask ourselves. Who of the appointed leaders in government is an empty suit? Who in the corporate world are the extras?
Lastly, why does the Minister Without Portfolio. Hon. Abraham Byandala gets away and is not questioned by the opposition or anybody else. Why is this man the free-man the invisible creature in the parliament that does not have scruples? This since this position is the epitome of a Empty Suit. He is a MINISTER, but does not have an OFFICE, Department or a MINISTRY to run. Hon. Byandala can do as he pleases and still get paid. You cannot check his ministry or running government portfolio as it is non-existence from the get-go. The Government Official without any oversight and anything to initial control or say in other words the official Minister of Nothing (MoN). Hon. Byandala is running the Ministry of Nothing. The Minister of Hot-Air and the checking the chapattis’ in parliament is fresh enough for Hon. Oulanyah’s taste.
Well, what do you think? Are the somebody you feels are an Empty suit? Somebody you question or wonder if really have anything more than pay-check from the Tax-Payers money, but does not use it’s office or even delivers anything. Then that person might be an empty suit who just nods the head to the Executive and the general leadership without exercising power or determine the future of the government institution, department or ministry. Even if the person is really doing anything in the boardroom or a needed voter for the stakeholders; if it is only the needed majority to follow procedure then the scheme need a check or reform.
There will certainly be more stories and the existence of similar men and woman who can be described as “Empty Suits” and be stooges needed by any administration and corporations as they viciously need structure to control the citizens and the policies without questions from the inner-circle. Even if that means not procurement of needed medicines, fuel, transformers or building bridges to easier access the missing Okor Bridge in Kumi District: “This project was intended to connect Nyero and Mukongoro sub-counties in Kumi district” (MoFED, March 2015). A bridge that does not exist or is built by now so the sub-counties is not yet connect because of the altered situation and have to run long roads around the area than crossing straight over the river. So a project like this says there some empty suits as in 2009 as company was hired to build the river, by December 2012 the works by the river had stopped. Even if the departments to UNRA gave reports of progress of the project was last monitored in 2014 and by 2016 there not been done more to build the bridge since the monopoly of the Chinese Contractor have stifled the progression and in the end wasted government funds into a building a bridge who does not exist. Just like the Ministry of Nothing Hon. Byandala.
Think that is enough for today! Peace.
Kiechel, Walter – ‘HOW TO SPOT AN EMPTY SUIT This breed of modern manager looks good and gets along splendidly with the brass. But is he contributing anything?’ (20.11.1989) link: http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1989/11/20/72761/index.htm
Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development – ‘NATIONAL BUDGET FRAMEWORK PAPER FY 2015/16’ (March 2015).