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Kenyans distrust government because politicians never keep their promises

By Clay Muganda | December 5th 2021

Jua kali artisans at work, Gikomba, Nairobi. March 3, 2021. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

That Kenyans do not trust the government is never in doubt. 

To make matters worse, the government does little to inspire trust, and all its actions only create a deficit of trust

Whenever the government comes up with an initiative, the first thing the citizenry do is doubt its intentions. Then waters are muddied further when political analysts—the legendary peddlers of half-truths—come up with conspiracy theories that are not based on common sense.

The lack of trust has bedeviled the relationship between the citizens, that is the voters, the governed, and the government for long, but in the past four years, the level of mistrust has increased.

Nowadays, there is nothing the government can say that will not meet opposition, and not because people have a valid reason not to believe it, but because they have been fed lies for far too long.

When the government speaks, and announces an initiative, Kenyans hear lies and see a sinister hand out to hurt and not help them.

They look to the government for help, as they should, because they pay taxes, but when the government announces that is going to carry out its mandate, the people are fearful and do not see good intentions.

Every move the government makes, with probably a half-hearted intention of improving living standards or lowering the cost of living, is met with not just skepticism but derision too. It is seen as a way through which newer taxes will be sneaked into their constrained budgets, or existing ones will be increased.

Many are the times when any tax-related move by the government is seen as a plan to enrich a few individuals; that the revenue collected will end up in the bank accounts of powerful individuals and not in public coffers.

While it is the job of the government to protect life and property of the citizens, Kenyans see the government more as an enemy, a gargantuan thief with many resources to impoverish the poor and finish off the weak.

When coronavirus hit our shores and schools were still open, Kenyans cried that they wanted schools closed and their children back home.

But when the government did what they were wishing for, and children stayed home for more than a month as measures to curb spread of coronavirus were reportedly being put in place, they saw it as a move to deny the children of the poor an education.

Preserve of the rich

And rightfully so because affording an education is Kenya has become a preserve of the rich; that is mostly people in government or those in bed, in all ways, with well-connected politicians and government officials.

The government did little to allay their fears, but reopened schools and again talk of its bad intentions ruled the airwaves.

In civilised societies, or places where there is an abundance of trust, citizens would see public institutions as the first, and probably the last line of defence. Not so in Kenya.

Institutions run by the government, more so in healthcare sector, are seen as death chambers, and not places where one can get proper care or healing.

This has created a new crop of entrepreneurs who are not out to fill a gap created by the government’s wayward ways, but to fleece helpless Kenyans who throng their places to seek medical help.

In the end, no one really cares about the suffering; no one really bothers about improving services in public institutions because those who could have done so have more faith in private institutions and can easily fly overseas than drive to a nearby public or private facility.

Ours is a country where people feel safe in the company of thugs than in that of the law enforcers. But that also could be because all elective offices are occupied by thugs, people who only make laws that favour their immediate needs, and spend the rest of their working days cutting underhand deals that enrich them and disempower their voters.

It is not farfetched to say that Kenyans are responsible for this sad state of affairs, for, the thugs in all the elective offices did not appoint themselves.

But that would only be half the story, for, the politicians themselves use the mistrust of government as a campaign plank. They plant the seeds of distrust by telling potential voters that the government is not on their side, that their problems are caused by poor governance, a bad government.

This carries more weight when the campaigner is serving in the same untrustworthy government or at some point supported the repressive policies of that government.

Problem is, they are just out to hoodwink desperate voters who have no better choices and have to settle for the devil incarnate who can tell more lies.

When their lies propel them to power, they will not keep their promises and will only make the voters distrust the government more.

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