Why We Should Focus on Our Political Parties

How come The Gambia Ports Authority would have the audacity to spend one butut of our money to build a police station? GPA has no mandate to provide public goods and services directly. They are supposed to focus on their business according to its act and then pay dividend to the Government.

If that Government wants to use that dividend it must first report it to the National Assembly as part of its budget estimates so that the National Assembly could now approve an appropriation bill to allow the Government to use that money to provide public goods and services to citizens!

How therefore could a state enterprise like GPA have the temerity to directly build a police station? The fault is not with the Government and GPA but with our political parties and their representatives in the National Assembly!

Why? How? Let me explain!

The simple answer is that just as a political party runs the Government so also a political party is the major accountability tool to monitor and discipline that ruling party as Government. How?

Ultimately political parties run a democratic country because political parties produce the president, NAMs, mayors, councillors and chairpersons. These are the people who run our institutions of governance and development. Therefore, it is political parties who run our country.

If we ignore our political parties as we always do, then we are undermining national development. Since Independence the Gambia has been failing simply because our political parties have been failing to take up their rightful place in the governing and development of the country. They are only good at speaking about what their intentions are and what is not going right but they do not go further to take action to do what they should do to right things.

Our parties don’t speak to each other and the ordinary citizen does not consider political parties when we discuss the fundamental issues of the county. We only focus on and blame the President and his Government. Period. It appears we just hold that the parties don’t either exist or they are not important or necessary when in fact the alpha and omega of our governance and development rests with none other than with our political parties.

We are so partisan that we all fail to see the limitations of our parties much less hold them accountable. We are good at only praising our political leaders even when they make no sense at all! We see only the good things they do and not what they are not doing right!

So long as we remove political parties from the discussion about the state of affairs in the country then we are not going to get any progress. The Gambia has been a poor country and on top of that became a dictatorship thanks to our political parties who also helped by default to maintain that dictatorship for a generation!

For example, what prevented our parties from forming a coalition in 1996 or 2001 or 2006 or 2011? We can put the blame on one party or the other depending on which party we belong to since no one will be bold enough to scrutinize your party. But the fact remains our parties just failed to unite such that it created a fertile ground for tyranny to grow!

Just as our parties – as ruling and opposition parties – allowed the Jawara Government and then the Jammeh Regime to continue to rule or misrule for so long it is the same way today that our parties are also allowing the Barrow Government to continue to rule or misrule. This is because our parties pose no political threats or risks to the ruling Government.

Our parties don’t use their NAMs to put forward bills to change laws. Our parties don’t ask their NAMs to use their powers in the Constitution to impeach the President or pass a motion of no confidence in the Government. They do not ask their NAMs to pass a motion of censure against ministers for underperforming or misconduct or violations of the Constitution. These are all powers in the Constitution that NAMs have to discipline the Executive. But they don’t use them. Why?

Instead what we see is political parties and their NAMs waiting patiently for the Executive to bring bills, so they just pass them conveniently. Which means if the Executive did not bring any bill such law will not be created or amended or repealed. Even when the NAMs request information from Executive institutions in many cases these institutions fail to comply on time or in full or both without any consequences.

For example, we have seen how the Barrow Government have flatly refused to bring any bills to amend our Constitution or other laws in order to bring about system change! Barrow made only one constitutional change to suit his own political objective for which the NAMs supported him by passing it.

But then what prevented these political parties and their NAMs to bring those bills forward? We saw only one private member’s bill brought by NRP NAM to amend the provision that guarantees the tenure of NAMs if they are sacked by their parties and the NAMs quickly passed that for their selfish interest!

But then what about other provisions of the Constitution that the Coalition manifesto in fact listed as laws that must change. Just as Barrow failed to put forward bill to amend those provisions all of our political parties and their NAMs also failed to do so. But anytime Barrow brings any ridiculous bill intended to take more money or to impose more loans on us what we see is our National Assembly approves it!

There have been numerous unconstitutional and unlawful hence undemocratic decisions by the Barrow Government, yet it faced no consequences because our parties allowed it. Look at this GPA misconduct! One would imagine our parties to summon the Minister of Finance and the MD of GPA to a public hearing to smash them for such misconduct and get them sacked.

What about the 57 vehicles given to NAMs. While UDP and other NAMs shamelessly accepted it the PDOIS NAMs did well to refuse the vehicle. But both positions are not good enough. Clearly, we don’t expect anything better from UDP and other parties who already accepted the illegitimate and illegal gift.

But PDOIS also should have gone further to call on Gambians to protest and then as a party to go to court to seek an injunction to order to President to reveal the source or even seek an impeachment of the President for such act of corruption. This is what is called imposing political risks on the government hence tame them.

Apart from these unlawful acts we also saw many other Executive misconduct such as the unconstitutional sacking of nominated member Ya Kumba Jaiteh or the incidence of anonymous donors or the uncontrolled plundering of public resources through foreign travels and ceremonies and blatant violations of citizens right to protest among others. In all of these our political parties only stay mute or issue a delayed statement while their NAMs do nothing at all.

This means our political parties are aiding and abetting yet another bad government as they have always done since Independence. In every democracy in this world especially in Senegal or Ghana you will find their parties fighting with the government every day. The governments in those countries know that they face risks from their opposition parties if they misconduct.

The political parties in Senegal or Ghana do bring their supporters to protest on the streets. They take the government to court and they join civil society groups to support various causes such environment or disability or transparency. Do our parties do these things here? No way!

Even when civil society groups invite them to events or meetings hardly party leaders turn up unless if they are to sit on the high table to make statements. Otherwise these leaders do not solidarize with ordinary citizens to fight their causes! They just want to be honoured and applauded just like that. Why?

Don’t be obsessed with your party or your leaders until you undermine your country’s progress. Parties are tools of governance and development and not pictures to hang in your sitting room to adore! Political parties are the primary accountability mechanisms in a multiparty democratic society. This is what we see political parties do in every democracy except in The Gambia!

This is why I don’t belong to any political party! I have listened to and heard all these political parties and leaders over the years, and I have no doubts that they have good intentions for The Gambia. But they are not showing leadership and strategy to bring those good intentions into practice in order to salvage Mother Gambia! I hope they review their leadership system and strategies to bring about a final solution to our national malaise!

It is not enough to hold congresses or hold rallies or restructure your party and spread good talk and get new members or open new bureaus. This is what is expected of a political party anyway. Political Parties are expected to build themselves, of course.

But that is not what defines a political party as an instrument of national governance and development! What defines a political party is when you impact directly, effectively and visibly on the existing government and the entire governance and development process!

Political parties are watchdogs that scare a government from drifting into misconduct. In the Gambia our political parties do not pose any such threat to our Government unfortunately which is why our Government can decide to misbehave as it likes without any fear or shame! Therefore, our political parties have become liabilities instead of national assets!

For The Gambia 🇬🇲 Our Homeland

………………………… …………………..

Madi Jobarteh


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