Politics, Leadership and Governance, Social Commentary

My Two Cents: Access Granted, Hope denied #GuildElections2017

grant

In what was arguably one of the most exciting, contentious, controversial and participative election periods at the UWI Mona Guild, Mr. Oshane Grant, the current Games Committee Chairman and presidential candidate, was GRANTED ACCESS to lead the Guild of students for the 2017-2018 academic year. Grant, a member of the Chancellor Hall fraternity clinched the win with 1234 votes to Jerome Palmer’s 1166 votes, Jerahmeel James’s 540 votes, Dontae Drummond’s 339 votes and Joshua Hayles’s 211 votes. A total of  3,490 students voted this year, representative of approximately 19.3% of the Guild of Students. Still not the ideal turnout we would have hoped for in a democratic process like this, but indicative of a slight rise in voter participation which in and of itself is an win for the system

This was an election filled with excitement, contention and controversy and victory would only be promised to the smartest candidate in the pack. The Grant camp in my estimation ran the most effective campaign for the consistency of their message, the concision in their campaign promises and most importantly their ability to mobilize a strong election machinery every day of the season leading up to election day.

Grant’s win is symbolic of the campus’s position to remain Pro-Guild against Anti-Guild candidates like Joshua Hayles and Dontae Drummond. It also symbolizes a return to a status quo of male-led leadership, which has been challenged in recent years by former Guild President Davianne Tucker and outgoing Guild President Mikiela Gonzales. These results would suggest that after two consecutive years of female-led leadership, the campus has signaled a need to resort back to “traditional ways”.

grant2

Grant’s vision for 2017-2018 is premised on a seven point plan to improve the overall welfare of ALL students at the UWI Mona. His first point speaks to the pricing of hall accommodation and housing on campus to improve outdated mechanisms to safeguard value for money. His second point addresses the need for greater inclusion of the UWI Western Jamaica Campus (WJC) in the annual sponsorship agreements the Guild brokers with Corporate Jamaica. His third point addresses the lack of opportunities availed to college students to garner valuable work experience which he hopes to change by advocating for internship components to the tertiary curriculum. His fourth point addresses the welfare of the commuting students cohort and the need for greater financial support to be allocated to the guild of students representative as well as the Commuting Students office. His fifth point touches on student entrepreneurship and lobbying the UWI administration to create more avenues for students to engage in business legally on campus. His sixth point speaks to the establishment of a President’s Advisory Council which he wants to offer as a platform to students all across the campus to have an opportunity to actively participate in the decision making processes of the Guild. His final point speaks to the strengthening of alumni relations, especially in providing financial assistance to needy UWI students through an initiative called “Project 5k”. 

Overall, I found Mr. Grant’s portfolio of campaign promises to be very practical, relevant, inclusive and achievable. I was disappointed however in the lack of mention about Campus Security and Guild accountability, which I think were some of the major issues this year on campus. But let’s hope he finds a way to weave those critical issues into his master plan for 2017-2018

Hope Denied

etel

Etel Williams, the current Guild Treasurer and ex-presidential candidate, offered a message of Hope in his presidential campaign that was consequently denied by the UWI administration. Mr. Williams was disqualified from the presidential race this year for soliciting the help of a non-UWI personnel in his campaign. The UWI defines a non-UWI personnel as anyone who is not registered to study at the UWI Mona in the semester in question. It was reported that Mr. Williams’s campaign manager was not a registered student for this semester and this was in clear violation of the election rules that govern the period each year. Following reports from students, an investigation was launched by the Returning Officer for this year’s election Mr. Athol Hamilton to ascertain whether there is any truth to these claims. After the investigation, Mr. Williams was found guilty and subsequently disqualified.

etel2

His disqualification evoked a very emotional response from students within and outside his camp, as the circumstances under which he was disqualified were considered questionable. Students are of the view that it was unfair to single out Mr. Williams for prosecution because other presidential candidates would have broken some election rules, but those reports were somehow overlooked. Some are calling the disqualification a part of a conspiracy by the UWI administration to get Mr. Williams away from the presidency, for reasons unknown. This conspiracy theory, they’ve based primarily on a series of events that led into  the election day. Particularly, the printing of ballots and timing between Mr. Williams’s official disqualification and removal of his name from the ballot sheets.

Following the judgement, Mr Williams sought to appeal through the Office of the Director of Student Services and Development Mr. Jason McKenzie. Reports are that this appeal was launched on Friday March 17, 2017 and was officially rejected on Tuesday March 21, 2017. Election day was Wednesday March 22, 2017 and Mr. Williams was on none of the ballots students voted on. The timing between his appeal being officially rejected and the ballots being printed for election day is where the controversy rests; because students are in disbelief that the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) and the UWI’s International partner from Canada was able to make a change so swiftly in time for election day, especially since the ballots are customarily printed and shipped from Canada. Nevertheless, assurance has been given from the Guild and Returning Officer that due process was followed and these claims of conspiracy are falsified, so we are only left to believe what we know and can prove.

The Way forward

It is unfortunate what has happened to Mr Williams, because of the expenses and efforts that would have already been invested prior to his disqualification. But we must not allow his downfall to disqualify our commendations to Mr. Oshane Grant for a hard fought victory. The Guild of students at present is in a state of disrepute and to grow from this and become stronger the president elect will need YOUR support; whether you were for or against him in the election period. The mandate for 2017-2018 cannot be cosmetic as before, but must focus on strengthening the failing systems of transparency, accountability and efficiency to restore some legitimacy again to the Guild of Students. Congratulations to Mr. Oshane Grant, and the Council elect and best of luck for the upcoming tenure.

Standard
Politics, Leadership and Governance

The PNP of today – the People’s National Poppy-show

Image result for Portia Simpson Miller and her executive
The People’s National Party of today, has become the People’s National Poppy-show; and everybody from green to orange to neutral can see it for themselves. Just a small disclaimer for your preconceived notions, I am not a die-hard Labourite or a newly recruited member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) who is attacking the People’s National Party (PNP) for political points. No. I’m just a young person, who is concerned about what once was the leadership of our country. Now, from readings on our Jamaican political history, it was quite evident that this was once a movement meant for the upliftment and progression of Jamaica land we love; putting all petty things aside to achieve this overarching mission. But the recent happenings over the last two years have left me in a state of bewilderment; and it leads me to wonder if these people really know what they are doing. The JLP  being the underdogs for the last 2 decades have actually proved themselves over the last 7 months, and they must be credited for their style of politicking.
The current leadership of the PNP is the worst I have seen in years, and there is evidence to support my harsh words. Madam Portia Simpson Miller (PSM) and her senior counterparts have significantly  dissolved the trust and respect comrades and Jamaicans alike once had for the party, with effortless grace and style. Values of integrity, accountability, transparency, unity and decency have been demoted to mere talking points to get the crowd going at a political rally; but we seldom see these values being put into practice.
As a young and neutral enthusiast of Jamaican politics I have to question Madam PSM’s integrity when I see last year during the pre-election period, her Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson and fellow comrade almost run the Health Ministry into the ground and escape any sort of retribution fitting for  failed ministers. In fact, because they are such good comrades she gave the boss another Ministry to do a wonderful job with; presuming the Jamaican people would return them to government. Her arrogance as well during the political race, and the immaturity and mediocre political strategies employed by her team leads me to wonder again if this is a group of people who know what they are doing! All predictions from political pundits suggested beyond reasonable doubt that PNP had that election in the bag, but it was the wit and decisiveness of the JLP that gave them the extra inches in the race to clinch it.
Now, fast forward a few months post-election, and they seemed to be humbled and in a state of reflection and planning. But no one could avoid the bangarang caused by the former MP and State Minister of Entertainment and Tourism the Honorable Damion Crawford and two seniors in the party, General Secretary Paul Burke and especially Senator Dr. Angela Brown-Burke. What a hot mess! Husband and wife attacking the adopted son of the PNP, who was and still is arguably one of Jamaica’s most beloved young politicians. It was distasteful and eye-opening to see the bitterness and tension that existed between the young and old of the party. That is probably when the Poppyshow begun, and I think we’re in for a few many more episodes because this story line doesn’t seem to be climaxing any time soon.
And then there is now, this campaign finance scandal that the PNP seniors are actually trying to justify. It is corruption, CO-RRUP-TION; and I think they are still so caught up in their arrogance that they can’t seem to realize their wrongs. Norman Horne, the former PNP Treasurer, is a hero of democracy for releasing those reports, because wrong is wrong and right is right; despite the color it is dipped in. This is why our governance is so slow and retrogressive compared to other nations with even limited resources than us. This thinking that there is a place for corruption and dictator- style politics is how you erode a democracy, not preserve it. And the JLP is not innocent of corruption either; in fact they are probably worse.
So, here’s my advice to the PNP: fix  your leadership if you want to move forward. Madam Portia Simpson Miller has been an incredible stateswoman and her contribution to Jamaica’s politics and development is unprecedented, and we appreciate her for that. But the fact is, her time has passed. The “Mama P” superwoman appeal she once had with the electorate has now been replaced by an old, stubborn grandma afraid to pass on the baton to the next generation. Dr Karl Blythe needs to have several seats also, because by no means am I implying he is the alternative. Youth, in the party like Lisa Hanna, Julian Robinson, Raymond Pryce, Damion Crawford and Dayton Campbell to name a few are the fixers the party needs and I can almost guarantee that if they are given a chance to make magic happen, it will. I’m not suggesting however that all the seniors be packed into a coaster bus and sent to retirement, but there needs to be a more equal blend between the young and the old. With that sort of structure, it invites new ideas and perspectives to contend the traditional ones and this is how they will create the contemporary solutions their party needs. Lastly, the bangarang and passa passa between old and new generations needs to end; indefinitely. Michael Manley must be begging Jesus to send him back after seeing the Poppyshow his PNP has turned into. Come on comrades, you all know and can do better than this.
Standard
Politics, Leadership and Governance

The Fix that the Guild needs

cphome

What I am about to say will either anger some of you, enlighten some of you or have no effect whatsoever. But regardless, let me state unequivocally that this is neither an attack on the current administration nor the integrity of the institution as a whole; but merely an objective take on something relevant to most of you reading this.

Often touted to be the standard for student governance across the island, the University of the West Indies Mona Guild Council is the highest institution of advocacy and representation of the 16,000 students which constitute the UWI Mona Guild of Students. Here at Mona, we the students colloquially refer to this institution as “the Guild”. The Guild is governed by a council of 37 student representatives which are elected democratically each year through a process of election (with the exceptions of Librarian, Guild Legal adviser and Publications Committee Chairperson which are appointed executive positions). By theory, the Guild should be doing enough to invite the participation of ALL or MOST registered students of the UWI Mona campus in its election period and by extension  its following year of governance. Unfortunately, it is quite evident that this has not been the case for some time.

To my recollection, the voter turnout for the last three (3) cycles of Guild elections have been no more than 4000 students exercising their franchise to vote; from a total of approximately 16,000 students who attend the institution. So in essence, less than 25% of the school’s population have consistently elected a government to serve them in the last three years. Now some would argue that this is because the UWI administration does not do enough to encourage a climate for voting, particularly with their hesitation to cancel classes in half or full for the actual day of voting; as they do each year for Sports Day. I would imagine, however, the Administration’s rebuttal would try to dispel the misconception that the Guild and the UWI Administration are one in the same; when in fact they are two separate entities just operating in the same space. So the UWI, has no obligation to the Guild as an institution, but only the students within it.

But as a student I want you to ask yourself this question: If you had a choice to take a free day and stay home or go to school and vote, which would you choose? I can imagine most residing students leaning towards giving the latter option consideration; since this would be of little to no expense to them. The same however, I cannot imagine for commuting students; and I think commuting students are the primary reason why the Guild is  performing below its full potential. But we can’t fault them entirely for not wanting to participate because political participation  should be encouraged by the candidates in the political process; hence why we have a process of campaigning. It is the candidates over the years who have just not been doing enough to encourage and inspire commuting students to participate. The prevailing perception of the Guild by commuting students, frankly, is that it is just a group of people who strive to serve the interests of residing students. But when we look at the facts on the table, can we blame commuters for having this sentiment? Let’s put it in perspective.

Outside of the Commuting Students Representative’s portfolio on the Guild, what other consistent pursuit has the Guild made to directly impact commuting students? Off the top of my head, the Guild Bus system is the only other service I can think of which is offered to commuting students and one I must say is very relevant and efficient; but not enough. If the Guild does not revise its approach to governance to be more inclusive and constituent-oriented, then they will never get the level of participation they truly want; and the Guild as an organization will never reach its full potential. Ever.

Now you might be wondering what then will it take to usher in this change in participation on a whole within the Guild of students, and the answer is simple: Better Representation. The leaders of Council must adapt an inclusive approach to the representation of the Guild of students that actually reflects ALSO the majority of the Guild of students being commuting students; and not concentrated around the needs and affairs of residing students only. This approach must be applied right across the board for the greatest chance of increasing participation on a general level; because even the residing students who are apathetic to the institution may develop an inclination to participate when they see a difference in leadership.

Sporting events for one, should be planned and organized more creatively to level the playing field for all competitors; and not put commuting students at a geographical and financial disadvantage in participating. Staple events on the Guild calendar such as Fresher’s week need to be planned earlier in the day (or necessary arrangements for transportation be made available after hours) to facilitate commuting students who live outside of Kingston and St. Andrew. The current Communication model utilized by the Guild needs to be revised entirely to be a more proactive and engaging means of reaching the people on the ground; most of which are actually commuters. The Council for some time has focused too much on its social media arms to reach its students, and this I believe is mainly the reason why participation has remained at dramatically low levels. The Guild needs to step outside this “the social network box” and do more interaction on the ground. I can guarantee that this would reap great returns for the Guild both socially and commercially.

It is time that we do away with old norms and traditions and adapt to this dynamic space that we are currently in; a space that requires greater engagement of constituents and the kind of innovative leadership that will impact the Guild of students on a whole. I hope, especially, that the candidates for Guild president take heed to my “foolish advice”, and not conform to a current practice of leadership that has been grossly ineffective for some time now. The power is in the people; the choice is now yours if you want it. 

 

-G.B

Standard
Politics, Leadership and Governance

The Arrogance of the PNP defeated them

holnesss_simpson-miller

And so said, so done. Democracy has played her hand and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has been returned to power after claiming 33 of the 63 seats to the 30 seats claimed by their opponents, the Peoples National Party (PNP). Some have the JLP’s victory as the biggest upset of all upsets predicted; considering polls prior to the election day would have placed the PNP on a route to victory. The results have left many wondering what went wrong? What went right? What mistake or mistakes could have costed them an election that they didn’t foresee happening? Here’s what I think.

It was arrogance. Often times a word we use to play down someone’s character, but let me state unequivocally that my intention here is not to disrespect the PNP; or prop up the JLP. But to give a critical and objective post-election analysis. So to my die-hard comrades and labourites who are reading this, please don’t take it the wrong way. This arrogance is something I have been observing for some time now, ever since talks of an election started to slip through the cracks in late October 2015. Then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller took a big risk when she reassigned Dr Fenton Ferguson for his mismanagement of the Health Ministry, instead of removing him from parliament altogether. I think she bet too much on the fruits borne from the IMF program to keep the people happy, and it was from then that the mistrust began and the people started to see the deficiencies in their quality of government.

Following that blunder, we saw two very prominent youth in leadership Mr Damion Crawford and Mr Raymond Pryce in what it would appear to be a brawl between the Young and the Old. Crawford’s response to the party’s decision not put him on the slate of candidates hindered the party more than they realized; especially with senior party heads like General Secretary Paul Burke and Senator Dr Angela Brown-Burke seemingly “fighting out the Utes”. But I think Raymond Pryce’s unfortunate exit from the leadership of the party costed the party the biggest decrease in the youth vote; especially given the fact that it highlighted the indifference of some comrades towards Portia Simpson Miller as party leader. It sort of removed the mystic that surrounded Mama P of being the most loved among ALL her followers, which humanized her enough for the JLP to capitalize as best as possible.

What was noticeable for me was that meanwhile all this is happening in the PNP, the JLP camp was tightening their machinery and perfecting their impression of being a party united in solidarity behind their leader Andrew Holness. It’s funny because I doubt much people recall that it was just a few months ago the party delegates met to discuss his fate as party leader. All water under the bridge now, since the power has been reclaimed (or is it?).

But fast forward to the election now, a few things stood out for me. The JLP I think had a very clean and structured campaign which utilized more modes of communication than the PNP; and ultimately made them more effective in their reach. The PNP, in their arrogance I presume, neglected social media engagement and youth interaction because they thought that the people would see beyond the JLP’s party tricks; and pick sense out of nonsense. Notwithstanding this, the PNP still did an impeccable job with their campaign, and must be commended for this.

The JLP also consistently maintained an inclusive marketing strategy in their advertisements which was very noticeable in them using up a lot of their new candidates (especially their women) to be the face of some adverts. Conversely, the PNP I think focused mainly on their “people pullers” like the party leader Mrs Simpson Miller and their campaign manager and Gleaner’s man of the year for 2015 Dr Peter Phillips to name a few; neglecting the other factions of the electorate whom were anticipating to see someone different, or maybe younger sending the message to step up the progress. They did however make an effort with the advert from Damion Crawford later down in the campaign; but by then the attention had shifted to the party manifestos. 

The focus  I think on Andrew Holness’ Mansion on the hill by the PNP only strengthened the JLP’s message for prosperity; especially after he silenced their strategy with what some would say was a reasonable explanation as to how he managed to acquire such an asset. Now to the average Jamaican in the struggle, experiencing a fight from “badmind people”, Andrew would have caught their appeal with this revelation and further inspired them to partner with him for prosperity. His act to reveal himself to the people and get so personal I think suggested to many that he has grown considerably since 2011, is willing to equalize with the Jamaican people to prove his sincerity and might just be serious about strengthening the transparency and integrity of our governance.

The PNP’s refusal to debate was a poor strategic move, and one which set them couple paces behind in the pursuit for power. After being predominantly silent on topical issues over the last several years, the Jamaican people were anticipating to hear what their Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had to say; and more importantly how she would square off against a more learnt Andrew Holness. But it would appear to many that the PNP believed facing the people in this way was not a necessity for them to win the race, while not realizing that the people did in fact hold the staging of a debates in high regard. At this point, I think the people started to question the integrity of the PNP, and how far they fall on the party’s list of priorities; a party that is suppose to be for the people. The JLP cunningly, further charged their message of partnership for prosperity; leaving the average Jamaican to think they would be valued more on the greener side of the field.

All in all, I hope these election results sent a strong message to both political parties about how the motivations to vote have evolved in the last decade. The Economy can no longer be the focal point going forward, but the approach must be balanced to produce strides in other areas of our governance like Healthcare, Water Security, National Security, Youth Development and Education to name a few. I don’t think a 45.5% voter turnout for this elections is anything to be proud of either, coming from a 53% voter turnout in the 2011 elections. I hope this new government, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), takes some time to reflect on what this really means for democracy as an institution of our governance; and the work they must put in this term to inspire us again. I would also want to charge the two political leaders to put aside the childish bickering between opposition and government, and work towards to building a better Jamaica for all. For the sake of Jamaica Land we love, please let’s do this together.

 

-G.B

Standard
Politics, Leadership and Governance

Free Up wi Democracy!

slavery-400x339

The shackles on our Democracy have been singing a tune for freedom for too long, and it is time that we start to listen. The leaders who serve us should not have the power to determine when they wish to prove themselves to the people, essentially enslaving our democracy. The last four years of governance on both sides of the divide have been nothing short of slackness and mediocrity. While they might have had some triumphs in their handling of the economy, the same can’t be said about how they have handled themselves as leaders.

Let me make this unequivocally clear that this is not some political strategy to score points for neither of the parties in competition; but something that I believe needs to be said.

The fact that Dr Fenton Ferguson can recklessly manage the Ministry of Health and then get reassigned for his “punishment” speaks volumes about the extent to which accountability is upheld in our parliament.The fact that following the dead baby scandal, Minister Ferguson can hold our right to access information at ransom by delaying his submission of the Ministry of Health’s Audit report, speaks volumes about the level of transparency maintained in our governance. The fact that the governing Peoples National Party (PNP) can trick the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) into wasting JMD $250 million dollars in late 2015 preparing for an election; only to find out it has been postponed pending a “touch from the master” speaks volumes about the integrity of our politicians.

Frankly speaking, their behavior thus far has been unacceptable and disappointing to me as a young person looking on to see these people set an example for me to follow. I am not energized at all to get involved in this dolly house of a government; and this being a sentiment shared by the majority of young people should be worrisome for the future of Jamaica.

To the government to be, If you really care about capturing the youth interest in politics then I would say start acting like a government worthy of our participation. Start by setting a fixed election date to remove this autonomy you have over the process; and put the power back into the hands of the people. Implement a right to recall to keep Ministers like Dr Ferguson and others on their best behavior; knowing fully that if they slip, they will slide. I would like to also see greater powers conferred upon the Integrity Commission of Jamaica to be able to punish poor performance in a way that it ought to be; and not through reassignment. Lastly and most importantly, I want to see a government that finally introduces term limits for politicians. A part of why I think politicians blunder so frequently is because they get complacent after a time; and know that once they have a certain number of party loyalists behind them their future in parliament is safe. Totally Unacceptable. I believe our governance would be so much more efficient if the helms of power were not held by any one man or woman for too long. The renewal of ideas, approaches and personalities can be very healthy for our leadership and also more inclusive as it gives way for more young leaders to make their contributions to nation building.

 

Standard
Politics, Leadership and Governance

Will Juliet get Slam Dunc’d? or will Romeo come to her rescue?

BeFunky-Collage-735x400Who would have thought that fairytales had a place in Jamaican Politics? Just when you think you have seen or read it all, something like this happens that reminds us we haven’t. I reckon that this race for East Rural St Andrew between Senator Imani Duncan-Price and wife of the Opposition Leader, Juliet Holness will be one for the history books. I think both women are poised to do extremely well in their bids, win or lose.

I must applaud Mrs Holness for her courage, as it must take some serious grit to want to contend for one of the biggest constituencies in Jamaica; and traditionally one of the hardest for either party to get a hold of. Being a first timer to the arena of representational politics, this must be a lot for her to digest in one gulp I’d imagine. Imani has something of an advantage one would imagine, having served in the Senate for over three years now, and having a political stalwart like Dr D.K Duncan as her daddy, mentor and manager in this process.

But I caution you not to see Mrs Holness’s seemingly empty track record as any indication that she’s unfit to win, or let alone lead the constituency. One thing  I’ve realized about our politics (and it’s probably the same anywhere else in the world) is that we have a lot of geniuses working behind the scenes of these big political parties. I’m talking the brains and tacticians behind these fancy candidate campaigns, and my research has led me to conclude that Juliet Holness is one of these people. Look at Andrew Holness, and how quickly he climbed the ranks of the Jamaica Labour Party, to become second in line to the then Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Not even Audley Shaw stood a chance against him, being the more seasoned politician that he is.

But it wasn’t Andrew’s doing alone. No, he must have had someone close in his corner that kept him in check, believed in his bold pursuit of power and invested in his holistic development to get there. He had his Juliet, and together they climbed up the ladder boldly; with she behind him in the background ensuring he doesn’t fall to his demise. This will undoubtedly be Mrs. Holness’s biggest marketing strategy; that “behind every strong man there’s an even stronger woman” card that will have all of East Rural St Andrew fall in love with her magic. If she plays her cards just right, she could give Mrs. Duncan-Price a serious run for her money.

 julietholness20111114c

But don’t expect her Romeo to be of much a help to her now that the tables have turned. If he could give himself completely, I am sure he would but not while trying to get Jamaicans to buy into his Poverty to Prosperity campaign. He will need to give his all the next of couple months if he is to stand a chance against ‘Mama P’, and Juliet understands this. With Mommy and Daddy so busy, I just hope their sons have a good nanny to play substitute parents in these coming months.

 

But what about Stephen Price? The Husband to Imani whom I hope is preparing to be involuntarily lunged into the spotlight very soon. Will he be of much help to his wife in her bid for power? Or has he decided to hold down the fort while wifey’s out fighting a war? Will the birth of baby Selah Price in July 2015 be a hindrance or support to Duncan-Price’s chances at victory? Only time will tell.

download

Regardless of the support each has, and will be getting, this constituency is guaranteed to be a marginal win. I mean here are two beautiful, strong, successful mothers and wives whom will be fighting to convince the East Rural St. Andrew electorate that each is different from the other in a better way. People might say Mrs. Duncan-Price already has it in the bag because of her support system in the PNP (inclusive of the incumbent Damion Crawford), her flashy international resume in advocacy and business or the Miss Jamaica World title she copped some 20 years ago. But Mrs. Holness is a wealthy woman, having made her fortune being a realtor on the international housing market and many would say prosperity is definitely on her side (and embodied in a 300 million dollar mansion). It begs the question therefore, will the people of East rural St Andrew choose to prosper with Juliet? or stay the course with Imani?

Bottom Line: What will really matter now is how well each candidate connects with the constituents between now and Election Day. There’s a large cohort of objective, smart, YOUNG people registered to vote in this constituency that are just waiting to be wowed so the candidates must exercise serious caution in the promises they make to them. These people, if encouraged properly, will represent the swing vote; so getting their endorsement will mean making a strong and effective first impression and setting ambitious, realistic and inclusive objectives for the constituency. Take it from me, I’m one of them.

 

– G.B

Standard
Politics, Leadership and Governance

Big Up David Cameron

david-cameron_3457897b

David Cameron’s visit to Jamaica on Tuesday September 29, 2015 came right on the eve of a constitutionally due election season in 2016. However, the fact that his visit appears to be a political play by the ruling People’s National Party to score some points in the preliminary, this was not the headlines of our news. What sparked the interest of most Jamaicans was Cameron’s intention to grant 25 million pounds towards the construction of a new prison facility in Jamaica to transfer Jamaican prisoners currently in the UK prison system. Apparently, the situation in UK is that 1/3 of their prison system cumulatively is populated with Jamaicans, who were allowed to serve their sentences in the UK because Jamaica lacks the holding capacity to receive them. But what about the 300 million pounds that Mr Cameron is also giving us? not to mention the share of 9 billion pounds that we are to get from his investment in the Caribbean? He comes here with 300 million pounds (which will partly be used for infrastructural and social development) and 9 billion pounds, but all we seem to be focused on is the 25 million pounds to build the prison.

First of all, I think the Jamaicans that go to the UK and commit crimes should be our responsibility to penalize. To offer some perspective, why should a Jamaican be able to kill a British citizen, then benefit from the care of the UK’s prison system because we lack the capacity to receive them? Why should the taxes of the same British citizen murdered by a Jamaican be used to take care of him/her in THEIR prison? I think the proposal for a new prison will be mutually beneficial for both Jamaica and the UK as it bears the potential of offering some amount of economic relief to the UK’s economy with the saved tax payer pounds, while expanding our capacity to properly house our criminals. Furthermore, the UK and Jamaica has enjoyed a long standing partnership on Criminal Justice reform in both countries, and a new prison is only an indication of more value to come from this partnership. Our bad economy and inefficient educational system is predominantly OUR fault, and I don’t believe the UK ought to have seen this as priority over the prison. Remember that Cameron too has to be responsible with how he spends his citizens taxes, and they are entitled to a return on every investment he makes on their behalf.

It seems so convenient to me that NOW when Cameron DECIDES to visit is when WE (being the majority of Jamaicans) remember he “owes” us for slavery. Where were the protests, petitions, marches and blocked roads for Reparation before his visit was even contemplated? Our most notable demonstrations thus far have been for Vybz Kartel’s Freedom in 2014 and the Buggery Law in 2015; but nothing major for Reparation. Emancipation Day happened recently and I didn’t see the conversation heighten on Reparation; and even before that during Black History month in February, when we are most reminded about slavery, we were still nonchalant on the issue. Yes, I agree that Slavery happened, and yes it set us back socially and economically as a country; but I think the time has passed now for this to still be our focus. Jamaica wasn’t the only colonized country in the Caribbean, but for some reason we believe we  are ENTITLED to billions of pounds and dollars from the Developed countries for this crime to our great great great great grandparents. I do, however, agree that Reparations should be offered to some degree, and this discussion ought to happen in a fair and constructive way. But when we are going to use it as a reason to almost extort money from these developed countries; there is where I step aside.

Why should the sons and daughters of the UK pay for the crimes committed by their forefathers?? And Why aren’t we putting the same pressure on Spain for enslaving our indigenous Tainos and then subsequently committing a mass murder of them all?? That part of our culture that has been lost almost absolutely, is there no price for that? And since we’re on the subject of countries “paying” for their crimes, Do you believe Jamaica should pay the USA for the murders committed by the Jamaican Shower Posse gang from 1980 to present? Or the American lives lost to the sniper gun of Jamaican Lee Boyd Malvo in the 2002 DC sniper massacre?? Food for thought my friends.

-G.B

Standard