LETTERS: Lack of integrity is fuelling unemployment


The pandemic may have provided some employers with an opportunity to offload burdensome employees. FILE PHOTO | NMG

One of the causes of unemployment is the mishandling of job opportunities.

We often blame the government for failing to create jobs; but we must appreciate that it can only do so much. In fact, governments don’t exist to create jobs. All they do is create an enabling work environment.

Therefore, our bid to slay the dragon of unemployment must begin with an honest admission of our own contribution to the unfortunate state of affairs.

One of the circumstances that lead to unemployment is lack of integrity. Integrity implies doing the right thing even when no one is watching, says C. S. Lewis. It involves soundness of moral character; incorruptibility, reliability, honesty, diligence, and all those good traits that define moral excellence.

Clearance from organisations such as the National Police Service, Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), credit reference bureaus, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the likes is only but theatrics. Even Chapter Six of the Constitution, which we mistakenly link to senior office holders alone, does not tell you how integrity nourishes livelihoods.

There abound cases where individuals sacrifice to create job opportunities only to be disappointed by those they engage in the ventures.

The first malpractice involves breach of contact. For instance, you may elect to engage a local carpenter, and even place some advance payment to facilitate acquisition of raw materials, only for the fellow to renege on the arrangement. Will you hire them again?

Such cases are observed among many trades – tailors, masons, technicians, artisans, name them.

The second malpractice involves poor workmanship. There is no point of accepting a job offer when one knows very well that they are not up to the task.

Good workmanship results from a deliberate effort to learn. Most of those who do shoddy work are usually the impatient type who, after one week or so of understudying construction experts, bolt away half-baked and start their own ventures. The result is substandard work which only serves to deny them future engagements.

But we also have those who are competent, but lack job ethics. When hired, they display extremely intolerable behaviour: constant nagging, lateness, theft, laxity, and what not.

Some will not even take instructions from their employers. You see, they are experts and so they know what to do. Their will must be done, as the employer gets relegated to a hapless sponsor who must massage the former’s ego lest they spoil the work. Just who is boss here?

The third malpractice borders on malice. Those who have ventured into matatu business or employed bodaboda riders will attest to this. Some drivers handle the machines carelessly; after all, they will move to the next investor once their current vehicles break down!

This callous and carefree attitude has discouraged many individuals from creating employment opportunities. Instructively, investors are not under any obligation to do so. They can choose to stash their hard-earned cash in personal safes or bank accounts, or even blow it up through conspicuous consumption.

And so, companies have been brought down by employees whose only motivation is the pay cheque.

They will only work under supervision, contrary to their pledge upon employment. Youthful ones are worse, for they often spend their employer’s time on social media. Most choose to do as they please, knowing very well that they will move to the next shop if their current stables collapse. As a result, most companies are being driven out of business owing to their poor services.

The prevailing pandemic has only served to drive the last nail in their coffins. Some may never be revived; and if they do, many employees will find themselves jettisoned. The pandemic may have provided some employers with an opportunity to offload burdensome employees.

So lack of integrity has meant that some public benefit organisations, previously referred to as NGOs, fold up business after donors withdraw funding owing to corrupt dealings. Many parastatals collapsed as a result of negligence.

Wycliffe Osabwa, lecturer, Alupe University College