Such Efficiency

There’s a certain level of comfort in knowing that Government departments, all over the world, are inefficient. To be honest, if something was done quickly and without any fuss, I’d be fearful that it was done illegally.   Fortunately, I can rely on the Swazi Government to be like most and I got to bask in its processes over the last two weeks (Note I say two weeks, as that is how long it took).

The first mission was to change ownership of my car to my name.  All it took was six simple steps.

1)  Queue at the Swazi Revenue Authority (SRA) Tax Office.  Pay E18 to get a Graded Tax ID and Graded Tax Clearance Certificate.

2) Walk to the other end of the shopping centre to another SRA office.  Queue and pay E50 to get a “Change of Car Ownership Form”

3)  Grab the previous owner of the car and, together, queue at weighbridge to get a Police Clearance. (I should probably mention that to find out that I had to go to weighbridge, I had to ask three different police stations as I kept getting different advice).

4)  Go to CTA Office.  Pay E35 and queue to get Roadworthy Certificate (Basically, a lights and windscreen wipers check, which I’m sure could have been done quite easily at the weighbridge.  Just saying).

5)  Go back to SRA Tax Office, and queue to get an Income Tax Clearance Certificate.  Apparently you can’t get this on the first visit.

6)  Go back to other SRA office.  Queue and pay E45 to change ownership into my name.

30 hours of queues later and a whole tank of petrol, I own a car.  Easy!  Thankfully my organisation is very understanding.

At the same time as all this was happening, I got a double bonus when seeking assistance from the Swazi Police after my phone was stolen.  As soon as I noticed the crime, I headed straight to Lobamba Police Station (my closest) to make a statement.  As it was a Saturday, I was unable to get a Police Report as the appropriate officers were not working. So, Monday morning, I headed in early, as instructed, to get a report.  Unfortunately, they were in a meeting and “it would take a while”, so they instructed me to go to Malkerns Police Station, near my work.

Of course, Malkerns were unable to do the report either, and instructed me to go back to Lobamba.  Naturally, I protested, so they rang Lobamba who then instructed me to go to Manzini Police Station, as the case had been sent there.

So off I drive to Manzini, and I think you can anticipate the conversation that ensued.  After being instructed to go back to Malkerns, me protesting, then being instructed to go back to Lobamba, followed by me protesting again, they eventually realised that they had the File.  I paid E10 to get a Police Report, but only a report that would enable me to swap a new SIM to my old number.  However, when I explained that needed a more official report, there was so much confusion that I got taken to the big boss who boldly promised me “I tell you this now, we will find your phone”.  He was a little less confident (okay, a lot less) when he discovered I didn’t know the serial number.  Good thing, I didn’t put too much faith in his promises.

I was assigned Inspector Busha, a very nice man, to attend to my case and after much ado I finally got a Police Report.  Then Busha had the brilliant idea of using my phone number to track the phone.  This, of course, would require the thief to use my original SIM (which I suspected had been discarded as soon as it was taken), but it also meant that I couldn’t use my new SIM, with my old number, that I had just purchased.  So, for the next month or so, I have been instructed to get a new SIM with a new number, and let my own new SIM with my old number sit idly in my wallet, in the hope that the thief uses my old SIM with my old number.  Confused?  Or Comforted?  Either way, I’m entertained.

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