The recent overtime case of Ms. Komodromou, a civil servant seconded to the Presidential Office from the University of Cyprus, has exposed not only the current Christodoulides government but also revealed a longstanding problem that has plagued every government in the Republic of Cyprus since its inception. This issue is akin to an iceberg, with its visible tip being the Komodromou case.
While concerns of alleged illegal activities, such as virtual recordings of overtime hours for brief meetings or short speeches, as well as attendance at national events and charity functions, rightfully stir public opinion, the real problem runs deeper. It's about Cyprus itself, regardless of our political beliefs, affiliations, or approval of the Christodoulides government.
Cyprus functions primarily as a public-service state, historically lacking meritocracy, efficient administration, and transparency. Instead, it's a state where nepotism, partisanship, and clientelism, inherited from the Ottoman Empire, remain deeply ingrained in its political DNA.
This is the reality of the Republic of Cyprus. A government apparatus that, with every change in power, prioritizes its own interests over those of the most qualified or capable individuals. It appoints based on political favors, often for friends and family, or in exchange for political support, rather than on merit or expertise.
Citizens are trained to endure this system, to either remain silent or voice their concerns only when the opposition is in power. When they strive to excel in their roles, they first consider overtime rather than the best interests of the state. They think like public servants, not as officers serving the entire citizenry.
This isn't to suggest that everyone working in the government is ineffective, dishonest, or wasteful. However, recent decades have demonstrated that appointments at the highest levels of government and across the broader state apparatus are often the result of political patronage, rather than a commitment to ideas and expertise.
This practice involves mobilizing supporters, often through political connections, to secure votes during crucial elections. The same pattern persists in the public service and the wider public sector. While there are diligent civil servants, there are also appointments made through connections, promotions that lack merit, and communications personnel who struggle with basic tasks like posting tweets or crafting properly written press releases.
Real change, it seems, can only come from within, by altering mindsets, though it's often a difficult and challenging process. Governments are at risk of collapsing when the state machinery falters.
The accumulated problems stemming from a deeply flawed system that nobody seems willing to reform, including President Christodoulides, who had promised change during his election campaign, will inevitably lead to severe failures. These mistakes, unfortunately, cannot be rectified through political maneuvering or skillful communication management.
History and international experience have shown that when the culture of excessive overtime, rather than honest, productive work, begins to drain more money than it produces in tangible results, the capacity of the state is compromised.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]