MISTRUST – WHERE DID WE GO WRONG AS A COUNTRY?

 


By Jaymo Wa Thika

One of the biggest challenges facing this country right now is how to trust. The level of trust is declining by the day, whether it is our confidence in the government and elected officials or our trust for each other. No one ever trusts anyone on anything.

For instance, yesterday as the government kicked-off the countrywide roll out of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, very many Kenyans were skeptical about the whole issue…. Be it it’s safety, or if at all what we saw Acting Director of Health Patrick Amoth being injected was actually the vaccine or plain water, why our political leaders were not in the front-line to set pace and create some confidence among the people that the jab was safe and so on and so forth. All these fears, hesitation and speculations boil down to trust issues.

We have been lied to so many times by the people we trust most that we no longer take what others say without an iota of doubt.

The mistrust is not only against politicians but runs across all spheres of life. Our professionals no longer base their arguments and actions on facts and stats but are driven by greed, tribalism and political inclinations. They will shamelessly distort facts to suit their selfish agenda regardless of the repercussions of their action.

Religious leaders too are no longer guided by the Holy Spirit but “roho mtaka kitu”. Without blinking an eye, they will mislead their flock and skew their arguments where their stomachs are.

This is the reason why it is so difficult for Kenyans to tell what is good or bad for them. They have no one to trust with their lives.

Distrust does not happen overnight. It develops progressively through stages especially after one discovers that the other party lied to them on a certain matter or issue. The experiences we go through with other people and especially those entrusted with leadership positions in any field of life impact our ability to trust others.

Past disappointments or betrayals are at the root of this issue because mistrust is a valid response to feeling betrayed. The financial and economic crisis has also led to a significant loss of trust in government. The dishonesty in those we have entrusted into leadership positions has been wanting. Many of them would rather take shortcuts or make populist interventions that eventually lead to more problems and distrust.

This is a great predicament as low trust in those in leadership positions makes it harder to solve many of the country’s problems. A decline in trust leads to lower rates of compliance with rules and regulations. It makes citizens become more risk-averse, thus delaying investment, innovation and employment decisions that are essential to regain competitiveness and jump-start growth.

In conclusion, the best way to prevent distrust from taking root is to proactively focus on building trust. Trust must be continually developed and nurtured throughout, not just when it is been damaged.

Trust in government by citizens is essential for the effective and efficient policy making. Those in leadership should invest in trust in order to restore economic growth and reinforcing social cohesion. Professionals must only be guided by the urge for service delivery and integrity. The clergy should take up their noble role of being the “good shepherds” and guide the flock to greener pastures.
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