Kenya’s Huduma initiative should be a lesson to Zim’s own government.

Garikai Dzoma Avatar

A Huduma centre.

One Nigerian author once said”, It is not wise to cross a civil servant.” Most of us have at one time or another been a victim of bureaucracy (angry civil servants) which for some strange reason almost always involves the government on the offending side- be it the local or national government.  The Kenyan government is now on a quest to eliminate that through their e-centre government self service posts which are known as Huduma which means service in KiSwahili. This is a concious and holistic effort to offer automated e-services by the Kenyan government.

“Come back tomorrow.” “It’s lunch time.” “ Handidi zvekujairirwa!” “Makapusa chaizvo amai imi!” “ Tangai maenda kuoffice number….” “Tavhara!” “ Come back next week.” “Go to window 7 first!” These are all phrases we have become familiar with when dealing with the government. When one visits these government offices, Makombe offices being an example, the first thing they notice are the lengthy queues which inexplicably remain long no matter which day of the week you go there. Even with all the computers that the government has bought a lot of procedures still remain manual and one has to find their way in a jungle of office numbers and “windows” which are usually only numbered and hardly ever labelled. It is not clear which office does what.

The worst part of the experience are the irate and irritable government officers who seem to be angry at and with everyone and the whole world. It takes very little and at times nothing to be on their bad graces. They routinely hurl abuses at people for making mistakes without ever having given them a chance. Then there are the corrupt ones. People who were well behind you in the queue keep popping up ahead of you while some are escorted from office to office receiving VIP treatment after paying hefty bribes. Bribes are so routine that most people in these places no longer even bother to complain.

You also have to wake up early in the morning to catch the queue since some of these offices have a daily limit of the number of people they can serve. It is not clear whether this number is “officially” sanctioned or not nor is it ever communicated to you. The government offices near Market Square for example are said to only issue about 80 IDs per day although no one has ever admitted to this. Chances are that if you are number 100 you will not get served. These offices close early whilst most do not serve new customers after 12 which means if you are bachelor like me you might have to take a day off in order to pay your bills. It would be nice to either just send the money through Ecocash or swipe my card on some machine and be done with it. There is no uniform policy and a lot of local governments do not accept Ecocash nor do they have e-services.

The case for both the national government and local governments to come up with their own Huduma services is pretty obvious I think. Ecocash has brought the advantages of e-payment systems to the fore in the minds of the masses. True- a good number of bills can be paid using Ecocash now but what is lacking is a concerted and intensive campaign from the government supporting this method of payment. It seems e-payment was added as an after thought-something that had to be done and was quickly forgotten. It seems its only Econet that promotes this mode of payment whilst the government branches are barely heard supporting or promoting this mode. Perhaps they are not happy Econet is cutting into their livelihoods-bribes.

I strongly feel the implementation of such as system as Huduma would be mutually beneficial to both the government and the people. It would reduce the levels of corruption that has been rife in government offices for so long as well as increase revenue collection by cutting the red tape in addition to corruption and hopefully lead to improved service delivery. Obviously we cannot have self service centres that can automatically issue IDs but there are a lot of government departments that could benefit immensely from this for example revenue collection offices such as the Rates offices.




    kindly explain the statement “if you are bachelor like me you might have to take a day off in order to pay your bills”

    1. Garikai

      Turns out me and my unmarried friends have got “bill paying day” hours spent paying bills to folks who only take cash and that includes my ISP!


        sadly myopic, the generality, the assumption being that married people have the spouse as an errand partner or lackey, not this side of the century

    2. chakuti

      please advise webmaster wenyu to spell Zimababwe with a Capital “Z”

  2. Stanley

    I find this article useless to say the list. Is the author simply complaining about Zim government service or what? I don’t understand why the author failed to give us details of what Kenyan government is using the Huduma service for. I am not saying it is adding value to kenyans but sure to complain the whole page without telling us this bit is strange useless to say the list.

    1. stanley


    2. Garikai

      Click on the link in the article and you will learn all about Huduma.

  3. Pindile Mhandu

    What does Huduma do?

    1. Garikai
  4. Laz

    This is a promotional article for ecocash why didnt the author mention OneWallet or TextaCash as examples. Please Mr Editor be balanced, we are tired of articles that promote individual services, we should be the ones to judge not you.

  5. Greg Kawere

    had to re-read the article & google a bit to find out what Huduma does. would have helped if you had givenus the readers a little background on what huduma is, you just mentioned it in passing, yet your whole article is based on someone actually knowing what huduma is all about. #theageofinternetjournalism

  6. chakuti

    a short course in journalism haina kumboipa(is not a bad idea)…