Why squabbles in government are a sign of 'scarcity mentality'

MP Ndindi Nyoro and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua have publicly differed on several things. [File, Standard]

In recent times, Kenya has witnessed a series of unsettling disputes within government circles, marked by infighting and insubordination. Notable incidents include the clash between Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome and her Permanent Secretary, the perceived cold war between Interior Services CS Prof Kithure Kindiki and Immigration PS Prof Julius Bitok, and the obvious friction involving Deputy President Rigathi Gachagwa and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro. These conflicts, involving honourable officials whom I hold in very high esteem highlight a deeper issue within our leadership.

Such unnecessary wrangles today remind me vividly of enduring lessons from my late father, Bishop Kalua – a model of wisdom and an exceptional peacemaker whose profound impact was known to few. His legacy, guided by his belief in the inherent good in us all, is one I strive to perpetuate. He once told me, “Every person has four sides: the front, the back, the left, and the right. No matter the flaws, there’s always one side that shines brightly. Focus on that brilliance, embrace it, and never despise anyone for their shortcomings.”

I am thankful that this wisdom has profoundly shaped my interactions, teaching me to recognise and celebrate the strengths in myself and others. By identifying what we excel at and acknowledging the same in those around us, we cultivate a community of mutual appreciation and respect.

Many of us unknowingly succumb to the subtle yet pervasive grip of a scarcity mentality, a mindset that views resources and opportunities as limited, fostering insecurity, negative competitiveness, and a tendency to hoard rather than share. But what has scarcity mentality got to do with the unfolding situation in the government? It manifests through intense competition for authority and control, overshadowing collaborative efforts for national progress. There is a fear that sharing power or information might lead to one’s own diminishment, resulting in a reluctance to distribute resources equitably. Moreover, this mentality breeds pervasive anxiety about losing status or position, leading to defensive behaviors and resistance to transparent governance.

The antidote to these challenges lies in embracing a ‘Green Mentality’, a mindset of abundance where we focus on the collective strength and shared success. This mentality encourages discipline, adherence to a shared vision for the common good, and teamwork with collective responsibility. Recognising that ‘serikali ni kubwa’ (the government is huge) and has ample opportunities for all to contribute effectively, we must ensure every team member’s effort are synchronised with the government’s ultimate plan. As we navigate these turbulent times, it’s imperative that we replace a scarcity mentality with a green mentality, fostering an environment where collaboration and mutual respect are paramount. The president must unapologetically crack the whip to ensure his team is united and working cohesively towards a common objective. Anyone undermining a colleague also undermines the leader who appointed them.

Kenyans are currently grappling with the hardships of floods, economic struggles, and doctors’ strikes. In such challenging times, the ongoing, ugly disputes among government officials only add insult to injury, hindering national efforts that aim for improvement. The wisdom of my late father teaches us that focusing on the positive aspects of each individual can transform our interactions and foster a thriving, united community. It is essential for all government officials to unite and collaborate effectively, recognising and valuing each other’s strengths to avoid public disputes and work towards shared goals.

Several years ago, Gallup, the US Multinational analytics company, conducted an extensive analysis of work-related data. This analysis revealed that strong engagement, which includes a deep connection with one’s job and coworkers, feeling valued as a significant contributor, and having opportunities for continuous learning, consistently brings about favorable results for individuals and the organisations they are part of. The same applies to our government. Our legislators and cabinet secretaries must reconnect with the higher purpose of their jobs and embrace strong engagement in order to truly steer Kenya forward. Think green, act green!

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