Recent reports by World Bank and International Monetary Fund indicate that sub Saharan Africa could be the hardest hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over 40 million people in the poorest continent are likely to suffer from abject poverty; a contributing factor to rapid spread of the respiratory disease. The financial institution expects the pandemic will cost the region between $37 billion and $79 billion. Currently, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) over 60% of Africa’s I billion population is surrounded by the monster.
As efforts to keep at bay the disease continues to gain momentum across the afflicted countries, peculiar behaviours continue to emerge from citizens and leaders, insinuating lack of confidence and bordering on integrity concerns.
Aside from the most blatant examples of integrity failures in our society, most of us are being confronted with ethical and integrity questions today that our forefathers never experienced. The lines between right and wrong have become much too blurred for simple discretion or perhaps “playing by the rules” to be effective measures of integrity.
Our trust hinges on Integrity which is choosing to do right all the time and in any given condition. Are African leaders still trusted by their subjects even as they work hard to end Covid-19?
The leader’s authoritative directions only seem to bear much fruit in accompaniment of corporal punishment currently. Some citizens for example have to be arrested or beaten up to wear face masks in public and observe social distancing.
On the flip side, sex workers are demanding to be recognised as part of essential services to operate during the curfew hours, and a senior officer directing an ambulance to drop off her children to bit curfew hours while others partying in the ambulance.
There are increased domestic violence as a result of lockdown. We are now seeing efforts by governments to provide basic services like clean water to the less privileged. Where did the water supply suddenly came from?
Rife allegations about some Africa nations faking figures of coronavirus to get handsome funding from donors to divert it to corrupt deals should worry sound leadership. Some leaders own houses or offices whose worth is more than a well-equipped hospital which is not even present in their area of jurisdiction. Thanks to Covid-19 which has unearthed such malpractices.
After the Covid-19 is completely wiped out, most of African leaders need to revisit the question, how long should betrayal of public trust be sustained?
Public trust is not necessarily a function of the number of projects that public officers can initiate, but the leaders’ ability to place their heartbeat on the people and their aspirations and to deliver those hopes as accurately as possible.
Leaders who have no service at heart and hurry to make quick gains have found it hard to relate well with its people more so in terms of crisis including the current Covid-19. The citizens will always remain suspicious of its leadership and exhibit peculiar behaviours after their trust is tampered with.
Kenyan Professor Jacob T. Kaimenyi spoke to AfricanQuarter’s correspondent Wamoyi Mercie in Nairobi while launching two of his recent books on public leadership and making swift decisions.
Professor Kaimenyi says, ‘’Many a time leaders swear to defend and uphold their constitutions but their sins of omission and commission speak volumes about their lack of seriousness’’.
He attributes poverty witnessed in developing nations to integrity problem and not as a result of lack of resources. ‘’ For example, the droughts, food shortages, wars and epidemics that ravage most of rural Africa are ideological eventualities that find their roots in leadership of insincerity.
Africa is a rich continent, the exploitation by foreign as well as local regimes, is evidence that this part of the world has debatable ideas on what integrity entails when it comes to leadership.’’
He adds, ‘’Governments need to be servants of their people, not the reason for their tears.’’
Does Africa and other developing nations enjoy confidence in most of their public officers? Professor Kaimenyi wishes that would be the case, and notes that the continent has a long way to go in cultivating a culture of trust.
Having worked in the public service for years as dentist, university lecturer up to the ranks of minister boldly documents the temptations of corruption, immorality and witch handing he has faced that describe what a rotten society we have become. He too offers solution for the continent.
He is former Kenya’s minister of education and lands. He is currently an ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union. He represents 79 African Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.
Mercie Wamoyi – AfricanQuarters East Africa
Credits / Picture by Antony Kathenya