TWO CRUCIAL ISSUES IN THE BY ELECTIONS HELD YESTERDAY IN JAMAICA
The election of Dr. Norman Dunn a son of south-east Saint Mary sends a strong message to those in the leadership of both political parties who would parachute candidates into constituencies and force them onto voter that this practice will not be tolerated.
Bringing in candidates and asking people to vote for them is not democracy, allowing citizens to chose their own representatives is the beginning of the democratic process.
Channelling the 1970’s George Nooks song “my father born ya” a pejorative popularized against Edward Seaga by the PNP, it should be standard protocol codified in law, that only Jamaicans who live in Jamaica for a prescribed period of time may be elected to the Parliament.
The JLP though offended by the 1970’s disparagement of Edward Seaga, [a true son of Jamaica in every sense except by birth]by the Manley campaign , made the very same mistake necessitating a by-election in 2009 for candidates Vaz, Mair, Stern and Robinson.
It’s time now for the Legislature to act decisively to fix this loop-hole in the laws so that there are no ambiguities as to who qualifies to sit in the nation’s parliament.
Dunn’s roots in the Parish will not make him a good representative of the people, that rests with Dunn and Dunn alone.
The mandate given him as a son of the soil is a solid repudiation of Dr. Shane Alexis, a Canadian citizen who has a Grenadian passport but couldn’t bother getting a Jamaican Passport.
It should be remembered that this imbroglio may have cost the PNP that seat, as that seat has been a dependable PNP seat for a long time.
Moving from a one-seat majority 32-31 to 33-30 gives the governing JLP the necessary breathing room it needed to push its agenda.
That breathing room, however, should be used to immediately put the pedal to the metal in eradicating violent crime.
The JLP simply cannot expect to continue to talk about what crime used to be under the PNP, they took over the reins of government in March of 2016.
The other challenge to our democratic process is the fact that there were elections processes in three constituencies but essentially there was only a single election which had any credibility.
By-elections held in the St. Andrew Southwestern seat made vacant by the former party leader Portia Simpson Miller and the Southern St. Andrew seat vacated by Omar Davies due to retirement were the two seats also being competed for as well.
The elevation of Mark Golding and Angella Brown Burke to these seats should give neither of these two individuals any sense of accomplishment in these heavily garrisoned constituencies.
Regardless of what they have to say they ought to be ever mindful that they are line-benefactors of two constituencies which were stacked with PNP supporters years ago at the expense of other voters.
Those who occupy these be they JLP or PNP ought to take no pride in representing those constituencies, the people who live in communities which are zones of political exclusions are worse for where they live.
Garrison communities are usually more impoverished and underserved than other constituencies.
It was refreshing to hear Prime Minister Andrew Holness proclaim in 2014,”Zones of political exclusion are incompatible with freedom and aspects of our politics are an affront to liberty.” “It is time to end garrison politics now”.
Since then not much has happened toward the process of dismantling the garrisons, the time is now for those communities to be opened up so that the lives of all Jamaicans can be better.
Failing to do so leaves large swaths of the Jamaican people slaves of the political parties. Failing to do so erodes our democracy and make the result of elections an exercise in providing answers we already have.
It diminishes our country and our institutions and ultimately renders us all slaves to the very institutions we created and the people we elevate to serve us.