Why Africans distrust their political leaders

November 28, 2014

In a working democracy, elected men or women with public jobs must be the best and most trusted people within that particular nation. They were chosen by voters who have placed their trust in these men and women to serve and protect them. When following this train of logic, the private sector that includes businesses should be the least trusted because they will attempt to fulfill their own interests, which in the companies’ case is maximizing profits. However, according to the latest trust barometer survey shows that these preconceived notions are not always accurate, especially in World’s poorest continent of Africa. According to the survey, more than 76 percent of respondents placed their trust in businesses compared to only 42 percent for the government. The 34-percent gap is one of the highest between the private and public sector in the World.

Nairobi Skyline(Photo by Duncan Edwards - Australian adventure)
Nairobi Skyline (Photo by Duncan Edwards – Australian adventurer)

A high level of trust in companies is a crucial element in attracting more business to the country. However, the survey shows that Africans view general elections as just another method for filling public jobs. To majority of Africans, a country holds elections because that is what’s done in a democratic system and not because it is their responsibility to choose the more capable person to guide the country in moving forward. In Africa, voters choose leaders because these people are thrown at them. It has been said so many times before, it has turned into a cliché and corruption is to blame for the lack of trust in African governments. How can political leaders expect people to trust government officials when they experience extortion on a daily basis, from getting a birth certificate to obtaining permission to conduct a wedding? People have no faith in the government because they fail to enforce the law and there is need to only walk onto the streets to see it. A mindless motorcycles rider can for instance, violate any traffic regulation without being punished. Africa needs educated voters to have quality leaders and law enforcers to uphold the law. Until then, trust in the government will remain low.

Contador Harrison