THOSE WHO CAST VOTES DETERMINE NOTHING; THOSE WHO COUNT VOTES DETERMINE EVERYTHING
By Ousainou Mbenga
On June 25 2015, the desperate despot, Jammeh yet again unleashed another of his trademark amendments to assure himself “president for life”. The despotic one million Dalasis ($25,000) fee imposed on presidential candidates and the insult upon injury fee of half a million Dalasis ($12,500) to contest for a National Assembly seat clearly paves the way to hell for our beloved Gambia. But Gambia and her sons and daughters will never go to hell. “If there is a hell below”, Jammeh and his APRC will be the ones to go.
JAMMEH ACTS ON HIS ELECTORAL THREATS
On August 19, 2015, the not so Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of the Gambia wrote to all the legally registered political parties in the Gambia with the caption: REGULARIZATION OF EXISTING POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE GAMBIA.
The letter pointedly referred to the “recent amendment to the Elections Act (2009)”, in particular the “amendments made to section 105 of the principal act to ensure that all political party executives are resident in the Gambia; the political party has a secretariat in each administrative region; and the constitution of the political party requires it to hold a biennial congress”.
The letter continued its imposition by stating: “Furthermore, in accordance with the said laws, each political party write an undertaking that it shall submit its yearly audited account to the commission”.
“This above criteria and any other as enshrined in the electoral law of The Gambia shall be met by all political parties latest March 31st 2016, failure of which will course the” Independent Electoral Commission” to apply the law as to cancel the registration of any defaulting party”.
And on February 9, 2016, a “sequel to the Amendment Act, 2015” letter was dispatched to the political parties as a reminder to conform or risk de-registration. Both letters signed by none other than infamous Chairman of the IEC, Alhagie Mustapha Carayol.
IN PURSUIT OF ABSOLUTE POWER
In the history of electioneering in the Gambia; there will be none like the impending 2016 presidential elections, Jammeh’s fifth “contest” for absolute power. All the instruments required to rig the “elections” are systematically being put in place to intimidate all opposition to APRC tyranny.
Prior to Jammeh’s “ascension to power”, the electoral process in the Gambia was indeed not without questionable transparency, accountability and probity; the three legged – stool the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) said it came to replace. TAP (transparency, accountability and probity) almost replaced the “national anthem” of the Gambia during the euphoric days following the coup.
After its entrenchment as AFPRC and ultimately civilianized into APRC (Association of Pigs, Rats and Coach Roaches), the electoral process in the Gambia degenerated into the most lawless institution ever witnessed in our life time.
ILLUSIONS OF “LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD”
The playing field will never get level under the neocolonial state. Leveling the political playing field is a privilege and a “right” for European states, where the ruling classes generally engage in a peaceful contest for power; an attempt to validate the sham electoral system every four years. This peaceful contest among the imperialist countries; unheard of under neocolonialism, represents the level playing field that “opposition” parties in Africa and other oppressed countries wishfully ask of the incumbent tyrants. Really, why would Jammeh, aspiring to become a monarch under an Islamic Republic level the playing field?
The illusion that “elections and voting” are the highest manifestations of democracy turns on its head every election or selection year since Jammeh “ascension to power”. In the oppressed “nations”, elections are conducted under the most repressive and senseless violence against the masses.
Elections and voting have become the most meaningless democratic exercise for Gambians under the APRC tyranny. Voter apathy hit rock bottom when Jammeh and his spineless IEC imposed a D100 (Dalasis) fee for a voting card. This despicable act of paying for a voting card brings back memories of the poll tax during the colonial era. Jammeh is nothing but a colonialist in black face.
FLIPPING THE NARRATIVE
If Jammeh can challenge and defy the “authority” of the African Union (the hand) and ECOWAS (the glove), why in the hell can’t we challenge his despotic laws? We must shape and control the narrative of electioneering and voting against the APRC as it continues to disrupt our existence.
We cannot vote ourselves out this misery; neither will prayers alone rescue us from the APRC’s impending doom. We must be willing to trust the people’s fighting capacity to uproot Jammeh and the rotten social system that breeds neocolonialism. As an advocate of “by any means necessary” action; elections and voting can be a component but only if we are present to COUNT THE VOTES.
JAMMEH MUST GO! VICTORY IS CERTAIN!
Too much outlandish factual exaggeration Mr. Mbenga;
1. Presidential candidates are not required to pay D1Million for nomination but D500, 000
2. Voter cards are generally fee. It is the replacement of a defaced or tore ones that costs D100
3. Candidates for the National Assembly elections are only required to pay D50, 000, not D500, 00
Voter cards are generally free; only replacements attract a fee of D100.
‘Voters cards are generally free;’ only attracts what………………….??????
‘Candidates for the national assembly elections are ONLY required to pay D50, 000…..?????
Are we not talking about Gambia and its crumpled economy and its citizens in daily turmoil…
Makes you wonder what @Lafia is up to at times in these important forums. Sometimes he goes asking for bail receipts…..! This gores!!
Lafia’s only interest in this matter is to put the records straight. People are entitled to accurate information no matter what.
Accurate information for this matter is questioning the contitutionality of those fees from start, in my opinion.
You may not believe this saying but I do; that, sprats are not more than bait when you are out fishing mackerels……
Is like when you said to me,’look!…don’t step on me’ and I said to you, ‘it was not your head, it was just your toe.
A very astute analysis Mr Mbenga, Jammeh has already rigged the election even before it starts. We all accept that Gambia is at the crossroads, and 2016 is a “make or break” year for the country.
Instead of challenging Jammeh for the undemocratic way he has maintained the IEC, and imposed unattainable conditions on the opposition, PDOIS and some other party leaders are eager and willing to play ball with Jammeh under his terms and conditions.
I think in a personal way, each member of the diaspora community must try to hatch a Plan B in dealing with the Gambian dilemma. Because come December 2016, the IEC will do for Jammeh what Ivorian election commission did for Laurent Gbagbo, declare him winner in spite of the overwhelming vote against him. Shamelessly, they reversed themselves when he was forcibly thrown out of power.
PDOIS, having no hope from the beginning, will gladly continue to write their long and extended letters to the president, NRP will congratulate Jammeh, claiming the vote to “free” but not “fair”, and UDP will be numbed for not knowing what to do next, litigation or demonstration?
Gambians in and out of the country will be left heart broken, because some of those who present themselves as leaders, carrying the hope of the nation, really have no interest in removing the evil that has ruled over our lives for twenty odd years. JAMMEH MUST GO! BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!!
The facts upon which his analysis is premised are inaccurate. Look up for my corrections above.
La Manju, though you correction of facts are welcomed, you must know in you heart that does not affect the gist of mr Mbenga’s article. That is Jammeh is about to rig the election. If you and your party are comfortable at throwing your meagre resources into a process flawed from the beginning to end, go ahead and keeping pretending otherwise.
Mr Mbenga’s analysis is not properly premised. That is my take on this.
Sometimes I wonder whether people are serious about seeing the end of dictatorship in Gambia, or just wanting to score personal points on trivial matters.
I agree that prayers alone which will not rescue us from impending APRC’s doom or military dictatorship . Gambians like to invoke God or Allah in every problem but they haven’t invoke Him in our political suffering or hardship despite the fact that some claimed that he is the very one responsible for our problems . This is evidenced by statements attributed to released prisoners , some of them claimed that their imprisonment was decision of their God.
I have noticed that it has become annual event in every village across the country to organize homecoming or what they would call a ” GAMO” , . Some villages will send The invitation to the chief oppressor to grace the occasion or even diaspora who I believe sponsored some of these homecomings despite the fact that some of them are on exile but they cannot attend. The question I have , since this tradition is in almost every village now , why is that their prayers is not answer to rescue the country from Oppression and hardship ? I do wonder about this question on so many times . Why can’t annual Gamo or religious gathering be used to simply ask God to Remove Jammeh from power If their prayers are truly answered and their God was responsible for our current problem . I hope some one will give good explanation .
Prayers in many yards mean inspiration with purpose. It should not always be seen as a sign of a people’s resort to desperation and fear. However, Mr. Mbenga and the likes are real good help to us laymen.
Thank for your article that also brings Gambia’s realities together.
We encourage Gambians in the diaspora to come and partake in the upcoming elections.
The timing is right. Jammeh’s power reached its peak in 2011 and has been dwindling since to its lowest ebb. APRC knows this and they are very worried for December 2016.
There are also two factors that will contribute to Jammeh’s free fall in 2016: 1- his own tribe in and out of the country has disown him for lack of trust and 2- the border closure which will last beyond the elections causing a hard hit on the people whose trade depended on it for survival.
At home “Let’s GO and VOTE” is taking momentum with youths and women in particular.
The world is not static and a lot of things are happening and taking shape against Jammeh, it is now a matter of capitalizing on the opportunity for the FINAL PUSH.
Deyda, I admire your optimism and commend you for it. I hope Jammeh can be humiliatingly voted out come December.
The majority of Gambians would be glad to see Jammeh behind bars. However, the history of dictators tell us they are generally oblivious to facts on the ground. That is because they have an army of sycophants who keep feeding them the wrong information, underestimating the size of the opposition against them.
By this, they keep hanging on till they destroy themselves, their sycophants , and very often the country. Jammeh i fear will be no different. Opposition therefore must prepare for that inevitable confrontation. I hope and pray that Gambia will prevail without much loss of life and property.