Depending on who you speak to, surviving the civil service in South Africa could be comparable to being the last person standing on Survivor.
The once-popular reality television series places a group of people together on a marooned island with limited resources, which they are required to share. They then engage in a battle of wits and brawn as they compete in challenges where the winner could score anything from immunity from being voted out of the game to useful items such as lighters or even a meal, or similar.
Being in possession of an object as basic as a lighter, live chickens in a pen, or even plus-one access to a chocolate fountain on a yacht for the day could make you useful to someone who previously saw you as a liability.
Theorists of the game always thought, because of the environment to which the group is confined, it would be the fittest, hardest-working and those who could guarantee wins in most challenges who would remain in the game until the end.
In the civil service, one could be forgiven for thinking the most dedicated, hardworking and patriotic South Africans would succeed. But more often than not, it is the wily, work-shy, politically connected individuals who outlast the rest and push out honest and hardworking civil servants.
There’s a lot more to this story.
To continue reading, subscribe to the Mail & Guardian.
It pains us to say it, but good journalism costs money to produce, and so we have to reserve some of our stories for Mail & Guardian subscribers with paid-for levels of access to the site only. Like this one, for example.
You can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian and get access to all our stories and more at this link. And this weekend, you can sign up for just R2 a month.
If you have a current subscription, please login here.