Restoring trust in Africa

There has been a call to restore trust in leadership and public service in Africa, by rebuilding the institutions of government with the help of the church.

"Everywhere, globally, there is a crisis of confidence and trust in the institutions of governance," Moderator Paul Boateng told the African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) in Uganda. ABLI is run by Bible Society.

The key to restoring confidence was to engage citizens in pressing for reform, said Joyce Nyamweya, former Permanent Secretary for Public Sector Reform and Development in Kenya. Reform had to take place, she said, because so many institutions of government in Africa had changed little since colonial days.

As a result, scrutiny from 24-hour news meant the failings of government were being increasingly exposed.

"We cannot keep the old institutions we have always had," said Ms Nyamweya. "We have to build accountable and sustainable institutions."

Unless Africa improved its delivery of public services, she warned "there is a danger we will erode the democratic gains we are making, because people will lose confidence in the electoral process. Dialogue has to continue - and the role of the church in this is critical".

Ms Nyamweya warned the church must not take sides, but must work instead as an agent of reconciliation in societies that are becoming increasingly polarised between government and the public service on one side and the media and society on the other.

But she said there was also a need to restore trust in the church, which was eroding.

"Saying what we mean and meaning what we say – this is critical if we are to rebuild confidence and trust."

The ABLI forum in Uganda is aimed at developing leadership across Africa in the spheres of governance, business and the church. ABLI is run by Bible Society, which plans to develop and continue the forum next year.

"Initiatives like ABLI are significant to the future of Africa," said David Smith, Bible Society’s International Programme Manager. "What constitutes authentic Biblical leadership is crucial to this continent."