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Kenyans' Carefree Attitude Undermines Development

Someone asked on Facebook whether some projects the national government unveiled were under the national government or the county government. One person commented saying. “Who cares? Service delivery is what people need, not where it came from, why, how, etc…”

Another said, “Who cares? As long as they will help a common Mwananchi.” “Wanjiku hataki kujua ni za nani. We want services delivered to Mwananchi,” said another. Other views include the source of the project being a ‘non-issue’ to ‘I do not care’ attitudes.

While these responses are just a few among many, they are very troubling. They prove that Kenyans are politically uninformed. They also portray the CDF mentality where people only want to see ‘development’ but care less about the means of achieving it.

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Public “don’t care” attitude weakens development

From these responses, people want to see a road and use it. However, they do not care how it came about or who shall maintain it in future. It applies to other projects like hospitals, classrooms, street lighting projects, etc. They do not care if the development comes from the national government or the county government.

These comments are dangerous and troubling because they show that people do not care about transparency and accountability. They care less about prudent utilization and implementation of public resources. All they want to see is their elected representatives ‘working’ by implementing tangible projects. This even includes legislators whose work does not involve management of funds and implementation of projects.

Yet, when these projects fail or become substandard, the people begin to complain. They cry foul about poor handiwork or neglect when no repairs take place. Yet, in their minds, they said they “don’t care” as long as they see these projects and benefit from them.

The “don’t care” attitude undermines public participation

When people say that they only want to see development, it also puts other issues into question, such as public participation. If people only want to see the development where there is none when will those concerned accord priority to public input?

Alternatively, is public participation even important in the first place if we do not care who or what brings about the development, how they plan for the development projects, or if the development projects were a priority at all?

Unfortunately, this mentality by a huge number of Kenyans results from submitting to tokenism. This is another area on CDF mentality. When senior politicians or elected representatives go to the grassroots, the residents expect political goodies as a favour. They have a list of the problems that the President or other senior politicians should address in their visit. Some cite roads, others say agriculture, hospitals, etc.

In return, the President or the senior politicians give them guarantees that their government will fulfil some (if not all) of their pledges. This behaviour goes back to independence and it relates to the ‘trickle-down’ economy where people think that they elect people to amass wealth and then ‘trickle’ it down to them.

The “don’t care” attitude is a disaster

If people only want to see development happening at the county level, but do not care about the means of achieving it, then they should forfeit their right to public participation. They should give the government the exclusive right to decide for them. They should also demand a referendum to abdicate their rights on having the government consult them in decision-making.

The people should not bother about being involved in budget hearings, county, or national government planning. They should also forfeit their right to complain about substandard projects, shoddy contractors, loss of money through embezzlement or misuse (corruption), and such phenomena.

Yet, in the end, this “don’t care’ attitude by Kenyans shows many are ignorant about the roles of the national and county governments. It also proves to be a disaster because it gives both levels of government the chance to continue ignoring public participation in decision-making. Therefore, in the end, the public becomes the biggest losers.