How Halifa Misses The Point

This justifies our fear about the intention that some of the advocates of independent candidates may have. Halifa certainly has little comprehension of Parliamentary democracy. His explanation of what is meant by separation of powers under presidential systems is simply out of place. To have majority of MPs on the side of the ruling government does not in anyway affect the separation of powers in our case. It has no impact on independent judicial system. It has no impact on the ability of the MPs to debate and make laws as part of their legislative responsibility neither does it affect the executive from exercising its powers of making policies and strategies as per their political manifesto. Probably Halifa is not also following the USA where the Congress and the Senate are controlled by the GOP.

Has that artificially undermined the separation of powers in the USA?

Does he want to work with a lame President where nothing will be delivered in five years in tangible terms?

What does separation of powers mean in a nutshell?

1. The executive makes policies and strategies but they cannot vote to make laws based on those strategies and policies. The assembly has to do that. The executive has to design policies and implementation strategies for those policies as per their political manifesto. They have to work hard to deliver their election manifesto which is translated into policies. We assess them by that!

2. The Assembly makes laws but they cannot formulate laws and pass them at the same time. The assembly scrutinizes the spending of the executive in the appropriation expenditure line by line but they cannot make budget as that would mean no separation of powers.

3. The Judiciary is not supposed to be controlled and dictated by the executive arm of the government. When there is dispute between the executive and the assembly, the judiciary mediates and explains the law.

Those carrying out governance reforms at national and sub-national levels internationally would surely agree with me and they would see my argument from the same perspective in practical terms. If Halifa means what he says, then he is definitely living in a different World and catastrophically misleading the public, which is unfortunate.

I do not have enough space otherwise I can explain more but I hope eloquent people like Alhagi Suntu can explain well in local languages if he has time.
Thanks for giving me space!!

Momodou Lamin Sawaneh
Governance and Public Finance Advisor
To the Government of Solomon Islands


One Comment

  1. Quote : “If Halifa means what he says, then he is definitely living in a different World and catastrophically misleading the public, which is unfortunate. ”

    Observation : There is so much being bandied around about what Hon. Halifa is alleged to have done or said, that it is difficult to know which of these elicited your statement, as quoted above. It would have been helpful if you had indicated which of Hon. Halifa’s supposed sayings you are referring to.

    I do not think many will argue with your simple, but all encompassing summary, of the substance of the “Separation of powers”. It is beautiful. And I do not doubt your understanding of parliamentary democracy, but I have to say that your choice of country to make this point, (Congress & Senate in USA) is perhaps, the worst possible example. Only those who close their eyes to the truth of the USA system of government, can fail to see the subordination of the USA Chief Executive (President) to Congress, which is itself, subordinate to lobbyists influence, often representing both internal and external interests. That’s why it (USA) has now been labelled an OLIGARCHY by many observers and reputable social research institutions, including Universities and prominent individuals, like former President Jimmy Carter. You certainly shouldn’t be talking about separation of powers in an Oligarchy.

    Anyway, I have a few questions for you:

    (1) Has Halifa ever said anything that contradicts your (THREE points) summary of the substance of “Separation of powers” ? If “Yes”, can you share with the audience where that was done please ?

    (2) Has the practice of the “separation of powers” in The Gambia ever agreed with your summary ?
    – In other words, “Does the Executive restrict itself to only presenting its policies and programmes to parliament/NA, to be scrutinised by members, without any degree of control and influence exerted over them by the executive ?
    – If “Yes”, then tell me why Parliamentarians were allowed, and even encouraged in the first republic, to “CROSS CARPET” with their seats to the government (PPP) ? Was that just for the fun of it ?
    – Tell me also, why NAMs lose their seats, under the last dispensation, if they are dismissed from the party under whose ticket they contested and won ? Can’t you see why National Assembly Members should not feel intimidated by, indebted to, or enticed by the Executive (President & Ministers) ? How could you have true separation of powers, in a political situation, where members of one institution feel intimidated by, indebted to or enticed by members of another ? Would you advise the Government of the Solomon Islands that this is good practice in governance ?

    Finally, Hon. Halifa Sallah may have “little comprehension of Parliamentary democracy”, as you claimed above, but if there is any living person in The Gambia today, who has consistently educated and sensitized the people, over a long period of time, about democracy, good governance and separation of powers than him, then I would like you to name that person for this audience please.