“The psychological heart of this mood is a feeling of powerlessness—but with the old edge taken off, for it is a mood of acceptance and of relaxation of the political will….The result is “organized irresponsibility,” a form of power that is manipulative precisely because it promotes the illusion that no one seems to bear responsibility. You are used for ends you cannot see, in ways you are unaware of, by people you do not know. You follow motives that are external to you, not because you believe in them, although you may come to, but because following them is how you function within the organization. You fit yourself in without clearly seeing how you are being fit in. And all this nurtures character development whose lack of grounded sense of self makes you ripe for further manipulation.” Tom DeLuca, 1995 in “The Two Faces of Political Apathy.”
Have Kenyans lost the common sense of purpose and value to sustain democracy? As Havel (1992) once said, “Democracies have many opportunities for improvement but elections, constitutions and proper laws cannot sustain democracy on their own. They are critical foundation blocks but constantly require support and dedication of people.” According to this research, the respondents have lost hope in changing the decision-making power map and political architecture in the country. This is demonstrated by 80.3% who seem not to appreciate that it is their personal and constitutional responsibility to elect credible leaders. Only 19.7% seem to agree that they have a role to play in electing credible leaders. Moral apathy being lack of enthusiasm, passion and drive to get things moving, can be demonstrated in the research findings.
First there is what Deluca calls “political subordination” which occurs when people are denied counter-ideologies, political institutions, and modes of life that may help them form political intentions and act accordingly. “In a society in which the prevailing ideology focuses on individual merit and achievement, in which the major political parties’ programs are too similar, and in which “politics” is considered to be contained in the specialized electoral arena, distinct from work, culture, leisure, and family, troubles and grievances that emerge are unlikely to be translated into political issues” (Deluca, 1995: Chapter 9, p 133).
This assertion by Tom Deluca closely match some of the research findings which indicate that 4.5% of the respondents seem to identify with political party manifestos and actually think that politicians can listen to citizens. There is no surprise ‘therefore, that a small number, constituting of 14.8% of those interviewed see the merit of public participation. Although elections are the most legitimate act of making an opposing party agree to work with another’s policies, even when they may necessarily not share the same perspectives, 22.7% of those interviewed seem to support that elections of 2017 will be about competing issues and approaches, while 77.3% dispute. In this regard some respondents are skeptical that voting is important because often not one of their priorities is picked and pushed by politicians. This study corresponds to an earlier research by Jesuit Hakimani Centre entitled “Election Agenda 2017 and Beyond: Election Issuefication” and carried out between April and June in 2016.
A second degree of moral apathy is linked to institutional failures, structural bottlenecks on fundamental issues and abuse of public service systems. 62.8% acknowledge that there is window to improve agriculture but are not optimistic that this kind of growth will lead to food security by 2030. This can closely be linked to 85.1% who take notice of depleting forests but find little motivation to reverse it. Instead they lump blame on a government that seemingly is not doing enough. Besides 68.2% of the electorate take note of the growing number of university graduates up to Masters level and predict a noticeable increase by 2030, however, they portray less prospects that educated people are likely to get employed.
Another aspect is the attitude some hold on the war against corruption. Though considered by Kenyans as a major failure at both levels of government; counties and national. One would expect that corruption being number one concern, the electorate will strive that it becomes priority issue to be addressed by political leadership. This is contrary to what they responded to when asked what the county should invest in before 2017 elections. Only 21.1% demonstrated the desire to address corruption.
So, can Kenyans make concrete steps in fighting corruption? The study leans more on the less hopeful side, because 57.4% do not believe they have the wherewithal to fight the vice. Responding to a question whether “Wanjiku can fight corruption”, most of those interviewed indicated that Wanjiku has no capacity to fight misappropriation of public funds at the county level, where the vice was considered to be higher. Deepening this discussion respondents think that the system is not ready to fight its own members, as 68% of the respondents indicated that they can report a member of the community or an ordinary Kenyan suspected of corruption to the authorities but only 32% would take similar action against an employee of government. Various reasons for disinterest on the part of not reporting government employees are given, such like “they will not be prosecuted if reported” which is an assertion made by 52.9% of the respondents. Moreover 35.6% of those who have lost the war on corruption cite distrust of anti-corruption authorities and about 15% just do not see this as their responsibility to report corruption incidents. The consequence is that corrupt leaders in government are more unlikely to face charges. On the overall 85% alluded that corruption is not ending any time soon, despite noticeable efforts by media to expose some of the rot in the public sector. Over and above the already mentioned reasons other respondents cited lack of protection for whistle blowers; “31.7% of the respondents claim that ordinary whistle blowers on corruption feel unprotected; while 27.1% seem to direct the blame to a corrupt legal system.
Public will, motivation, desire and energy to pursue well-meaning processes continues to dwindle. This has manifested as disinterest in fighting corruption, lack of a drive to elect credible leaders, the loss of faith in the public service delivery system(s), authorities and officials, the cost of education without guaranteed employment, the inconsistency of service delivery and the perception that no politician seems to listens to “Wanjiku” anyway. Noticeable from the research is that 73.3% hold the view that the public service delivery system is not functioning optimally and public institutions attract less citizen confidence. Does this augur well with the electorate or political leadership? Consensus by those who were interviewed indicate that there is no political will among the political players to address the systemic failures and 9.7% of the willing political leaders may not have the muscle to push through mitigations that are people centered.
Is education rewarding in the country? Are the returns of education tangible? Does it really matter that one must go to school? It is observed that schools and colleges continue to produce graduates every year. 68.2% of respondents estimate that the number of people with education up to the master levels will increase by 2030. On the other hand 76% think that this is such a waste of resources as some of those with good academic papers may not be guaranteed of employment. Measuring this against unemployment rates which indicate that only 25% of the 750,000 (Tumuti, 2013) who get into the labour market each year find formal and lucrative attachment, there is concern that education does not seem to translate to productive economic engagement. Away from formal employment, which considerably accommodates very small numbers and accounts for few job opportunities, the study reveals that Kenyan youth is quite innovative, however, there are lesser opportunities to promote such creativity. 40.9% think that the government is not well prepared to nurture talent, or develop skills outside classroom. 77.7% attribute this to failed public institutions.
The research finds that Kenya has a labour surplus manifesting as youth inactivity (youth unemployment). Does this imply that the existing policy framework is not as responsive to the realities of unemployment in the country? Does this mean that the employment sectors are not wide enough to accommodate more numbers? The study suggests that post-harvest wastage will continue being experienced within the education sector if the job market and policy frameworks remain as currently constructed. There is urgency to exploit the skills and knowledge of our daughters and sons by making investments that reach out to institutions of higher and middle learning. There is need that the private, informal and public sector draw strategies that respond to the growing number of private and public university graduates, 63.2% of whom find less connection between learning in colleges and expectations in the job market. We must bring to a stop the growing number of “redundant graduates” whose certificates add little value in the competitive job market.
Similar revelations are also found in the agricultural sector, where a lot of post-harvest wastage seem unabated. Freedom from hunger is a far cry looking at the research findings. 51.4% of respondents think that the government has not done enough to incentify farmers especially smallholders. While 44% think that smallholder production may be higher as governments (county and national) implement programmes for increased production, they decry lack of proper and profitable markets, lesser investments in value addition industry as well as non-protection from cheap imports, which demeans every local effort to increase food production. Therefore 62.8% according to the research seem unconvinced that Kenya will be a hunger free country by 2030. Why look at agriculture as sector that is experiencing post-harvest wastage? Unemployment in Kenya is growing at an alarming rate. Yet the agricultural sector that apparently provides 70% of the labour force in the country receives less attention according to research findings. 53.3% of those reached by the research teams feel that a lot of talk is happening in many forums (both state and nonstate fora), however, less proportionate commitment to raise national and county budgets that address shortfalls in the sector.
Further, even where Kenyans feel optimistic that right decisions are being taken to salvage agriculture, stakeholders’ disinterest, cited by 46.7% of the respondents identify institutional failures including corruption as a major hindrance to achieving a food secure country. It is against this mind frame of reducing post-harvest wastage, that the study finds logical outlet in addressing youth inactivity through support of farming. Therefore, the desire to create more investments in education should be driven by the urgency to nip youth inactivity and have in place a labour force that can also work to reduce food insecurity.
Is vision 2030 achievable? Yes and no. Vision 2030 has three pillars, which are economic, social and political. The strategic areas for performance include Infrastructure development, expansion in science, technology and innovation, public sector reforms, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, business outsourcing, financial services, education and training, as well as information communication and technology. The study findings reveal some Kenyans who seem skeptical about actualization of vision 2030. It is unlikely owing to the fact that some of the major strategic areas are reeling from uncertainties. 76% of those with good education background may not find an appropriate and rewarding employment. Besides 67.2% of the respondents still view access to education as restrictive owing to the perception that it is exorbitant and does not match the expectations provided for in the Constitution Article 43. Another aspect of education which contributes to post harvest wastage in the sector is absence of vocational or technical capacity development institutions, in spite of the 84.1% respondents acknowledging its importance. 59.1% of the respondents cannot identify deliberate efforts by the state to strengthen talent and technical skill development of young people, yet the informal sector offers bulk of the employment spaces.
On the agricultural front, there are a lot of reservations. Smallholder farmer producers are not protected by the state, as they experience a lot of post-harvest wastage yet they contribute considerable amount of food consumed in the country. 46.7% feel that the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the sector including corruption decrease the dynamism required for the sector to light up. There seems to be no responsive efforts to fight hunger, as 71.2% depict the state is reactive and relies heavily over the shelf mitigations. Not unless agriculture is reformed to the extent of addressing the plight of majority poor smallholder farmers, as affirmed by 51.4% of the respondents, vision 2030 on this platform will be difficult to achieve.
Unemployment is cited by vision 2030 document and mentioned as critical by respondents in this research. 63.9% of the respondents are quite pessimistic that unemployment will not reduce for various reasons including the following quotes; “there is an increase in population growth and the number of graduates but employment opportunities are not increasing,” yet 46.8% of the respondents think; the government is not creating more employment opportunities; while the 33.9% insist that “Corruption is a major hindrance to increasing employment opportunities.”
The most successful outcome of vision 2030 is the health sector which seems to be doing very well. Half of the respondents constituting 50.2% are quite optimistic that by 2030 access to quality and affordable health care will be possible. In fact 58.2% of those interviewed attribute increased access to health care facilities to the process of devolution, which had led to construction of more hospitals. 41.8% agreed to the statement that “allocation of more funds to Health has improved accessibility to health care through mobile clinics. Among those who were skeptical, corruption was cited by 40.4% as a major hindrance to the already good health care outlook and 45.1% highlighted the inability of governments to equip the health facilities which reduced service delivery; “there are more hospitals but they lack equipment and medicine,” however 14.5% painted a dark picture regarding medical facilities claiming that thin distribution of medical personnel as major drawback; “there is a limited workforce in the health care sector.”
In conclusion, the research affirmed that quality health care is fundamental to a nation’s growth. Even as Kenya seeks to strengthen its new global position as middle level income country, much more investments, according to 49.8% Kenyans uncertain of the sustainability of health care initiatives, is required to increase life spans, improve lifestyles and enhance productivity, which in turn would create ability to have disposable income among the populace.
Political accountability is the process that connects citizens to their representatives and democratic politics to the principle of common good. Antonio Palumbo (2009) asserts that political accountability is responsible for directing political systems towards public interest and engendering the principles of social autonomy and self-determination at the core of democratic politics. The questions are; is there any credible link between citizens or the electorate and their elected leaders? Difficult to gauge as 95.5% of those interviewed think that politicians do not listen to ordinary people. Is the political system responsive and people centered? Responsiveness is quite remote, as the tools like political party manifestos and development blueprints that can be used by citizens are looked at favorably by only 9.7% of Kenyans. 90.3% see no connection between manifestos and accountability, citing them documents used to hoodwink voters.
Are political leaders and parties among other institutions faithful to the principle of common good? Many of those interviewed by the research team doubt such fidelity as only 22.9% think that politicians and their parties can tap, pick and promote a citizens’ agenda. Furthermore, 60% of the respondents seem to blame both the national and county government for not upholding Article 10 of the constitution. They assert that there is little to show for equity and equality in resource allocation and is not noticeable, while deprecate the skewed nature of distribution sometimes to very undeserving priorities. Owing to poor political accountability, that is exacerbated by pessimism on fight against corruption, higher levels of impunity, poor respect for the rule of law and discouragement of causing change manifesting as voter apathy, 67% of the respondents maintain that political institutions have failed the test of accountability. Besides they note the existence of a thin line separating political and public accountability, though both rely on the will of the political leaders. Therefore, poor rating on corruption by 85.1%, low employment perspectives by 63.2% and coming from a background of failed political promises on employability especially of young people has diminished the standing among politicians in regards to political accountability. In fact 33% of those interviewed by the research team see the state as politically accountable.