Trust is the foundation on which a citizen’s experience is built, and lack of it has dire implications for governments. For government agencies, the trust gap poses a complex problem. Even well-funded public programs can miss their mark if Kenyans don’t engage with them.
With the advent of the internet and new technologies, information disorder has become a threat to governance. In this era of fake news, social media channels are being misused by individuals to drive their agenda without considering its adverse effects on the general public.
For instance, the disclosure of the SGR contract by the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, Kipchumbaa Murkomen, and the embezzlement of public resources by the county government are salient examples of the government’s failure to engage the public in matters that interest them.
In addition, prior to the implementation of the Competent Based Curriculum (CBC) education system, little or no public participation was steered in various parts of the country.
Failure to communicate with the public through citizen engagement raises eyebrows about how the government is utilising public resources. Eventually, this precipitates sharing of unverified information.
Public participation is a constitutional requirement as it grants access to information that enables citizens to participate effectively and efficiently in the decision-making and implementation processes.
To safeguard the right to participate effectively in such governance matters, the new administration needs to invest in clear communication strategies. This plays a fundamental role in bridging the divide between governments and citizens.
It also allows the public to gain access to relevant information and represents an avenue for citizens to engage with their public administration on issues that matter most to them.
[Timothy Kimaiyo, Constitution & Reform Education Consortium]