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Advocating a power-sharing model

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What of a post-election, 2020, association in government between the United National Congress and the People’s National Movement to counter the politics of race, partisanship, nepotism and to ensure that the two major ethnic groups are represented in power at the same time? 

I can hear the voices: What unworkable heresy is this; but why not? Almost all else has been attempted with little success. So far, none of the coalitions has contained the representative political institutions and individuals of the two major political parties and ethnicities. Such a post-election power-sharing arrangement will ensure against having a party outside with little to do but oppose for the sake of it, and stand on its political head doing tricks for its ethnic support base to shoot racial discrimination charges at the government in power. 

Most importantly, with the two in power the ethnic supporters on both sides will not feel marginalised, stripped of power; will have confidence that its culture, religion and way of life will be given an equitable place in the state apparatus. 

Along with such a coalition of interests in government, there must be constitutional change to accommodate the “Big Maco Senate” of Lloyd Best to keep watch over the parties in government. Fitted-out with the relevant constitutional powers, the Senate, representative of a wide array of institutions and significant individuals, will keep vigil, and with the constitutional powers of veto to prevent any usurpation of power by a combined party. There will be no one-party state in complete control of the state apparatus. 

As vital to the balancing of power and interests, will be a well-equipped and powerful public opinion, adequately informed and mobilised by a free media to raise alarms at the slightest indication of indiscretion, poor governance, and any perceived imbalance and inequity in the economy, society, culture and polity. 

This proposal, of sorts, is one element of my response to those who said “yes” to last week’s column which noted that ethno-racial instincts take over whichever one of the two major parties is in power. As analysed, polarisation leads to distortion in the allocation of resources, tribal control and antagonisms, and corruption. 

These phenomena have restricted a country with so much potential, such large quantities of resources and finance to underachievement. “Yes, but how do we fell this ox called tribalism,” is the question? Find a power-sharing model which can contain the impulses and instincts of the tribe, guard against the tendency to corruption, and “manners” the political directors if and when they attempt to ignite racial conflict to foster self-interests and ambitions. 

Vital to the successful sharing of power will be the achievement of equity in the distribution of resources, in the opportunities for human development and advancement by all, and in the establishment and cultivation of non-discriminatory institutions. 

Critical though is that while there is recognition of ethnic group identity, there must be constant and structured inculcation of that vital sense of nationhood—we are different, but we are one. 

One contention against such a model of governance will be that it will entrench cleavages. The fact is that cleavages exist in the cultures, in the religions, in the schools created for the education and acculturation of the next generation, in the festivals, in the differing aspirations of the peoples of the country. Sure there are public spaces co-occupied by the ethnicities; but as Valentino sang more than two decades ago: “when Carnival come and pass de people does go back to dey race and class….” 

Of great concern, however, would be the seeming incapacity of the present generation of politicians who have not only failed at evolving the politics; but have contributed significantly to the widening of the cleavages to grab hold of power and/or keep it. 

Almost every one of the present major political figures is seen by the other side as a symbol of antagonism, and an opponent of advance of the other major ethnicity. The anti-Rowley campaign is the classic example. From the other perspective, Kamla, the “queen” of 2010 was depicted as the she devil of 2015, and was held personally responsible by the other side for the mis-governance of the period. 

Other political figures from the UNC were kept hidden from the cameras. Prakash Ramadhar was seen as a spineless opportunist who sold his party for a secure seat and to be close to the source of power. Over on the other side, Hinds was identified as an antagonist of the Indo-Community, and Imbert an arrogant little imp, and worse. 

Do we have to wait for and or instigate a new political directorate into being to be able to make the shift? That could be a long wait as the existing system nourishes the soil for new sprouts of the same kind to push out. 

I do not consider any of what I have advocated and or revamped to be sacred text. What I do hope is for the population, that is not so mired in retaining the present political culture to perceive the present leading to convulsion, continuing backwardness and eventual explosion, to be prepared to do something out of the ordinary. 

Governments can oppose positive change or seek to initiate it in the interest of the larger good. Prime Minister Rowley can script a positive legacy by initiating a meaningful constitutional transformation exercise. He must, however, resist any impulse to rig the exercise like his predecessor sought to do.


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