Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, President of the PNP, delivered a vigorous or confrontational, depending on which side of the political divide you reside, speech at the 69th Annual Conference of her party on Sunday, September 16, 2007. Her comments/observations were the main topic for discussion, the following Monday, over the airwaves and also on the street by the ordinary and extraordinary man. She received her usual fair share of commendation and condemnation from her “constituents” and “counterparts”.
What apparently eluded many, we believe, in the atmosphere of noise and excitement that is conference and public discourse, was the cry of a disempowered leader. We endorse a statement embedded in Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s speech at his swearing in ceremony: “We must ensure that those who may think that they did not win are reassured that they have not lost”. We agree entirely that the elections of September 3, 2007, “threw-up” only one winner- Jamaica . Not JLP or PNP. While many may interpret the foregoing as purely figurative, the outcome of Magisterial and Constitutional challenges within the next few weeks will cause the statement to be seen as also literal. A 30/30 seat allocation is looking more and more likely; because many people expect Mr. Harry Douglas to “upset the apple cart” after the ballots in the two previously missing boxes are counted and the cases against Mrs. Shanine Robinson and Mr. Daryl Vaz seems very strong, some would go as far as to say “water tight”.
With all these “illusions of grandeur” swirling in Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller’s head, one can forgive her for still speaking as if the elections are undecided. But for the sake of her continued sanity, she needs to as the saying goes “wake-up and smell the coffee”, that is, accept the reality that Mr. Orrette Bruce Golding is now Prime Minister.
The evening of September 3, 2007 ushered in a new paradigm shift/dispensation- Portia no longer has the authority to initiate dialogue and/or call a meeting with Mr. Golding. That power was handed over to him, by the electorate. The ball is therefore in Mr. Golding’s court; the decision on whether their two pairs of hands will “engage in hand-to-hand combat, or we can join those hands together to build a nation that is strong, just, peaceful and prosperous” will be determined to a great extent by the continued positive words, overtures and actions of Mr. Golding. This was exemplified at King’s house where he “offering the olive branch”. This nicely contradicts our customary elections with its “first past the post” feature that rewards the winner with everything including the spoils and the loser with ignominy- scorn and shame.
The “final” results of the election and the clearly defined mandate and direction of the electorate has in our view “thrown a wrench in the spokes of the wheels” of government. This is so because none of our previous fourteen (14) elections have resulted in such a narrow margin of victory both in terms of the seat count and the share of the popular vote. Mr. Golding therefore has no decisive mandate and consequently, humility in victory is a must; bearing in mind that in order for his government to operate efficiently and effectively they of necessity much work in partnership with the opposition; any other road will lead to gridlock, deadlock and instability.
We therefore call on Mr. Bruce Golding to live up to his promise of working with Mr. Portia Simpson-Miller for a better Jamaica . We expect to hear in short order when the “Vale Royal Summits” will resume. If this announcement is not made soon and the opposition leader re-empowered based on her party’s showing in the elections, Jamaica will continue to remain unstable. If Mr. Bruce Golding refuses to not only “talk the talk but walk the walk” as it relates to meeting with Portia for a better Jamaica , he will lose the goodwill which he earned on the night of September 3, 2007 and subsequently. It is therefore not only Mrs. Simpson-Miller who be watching “ever move they make, every step they take” etc. etc. etc. but the entire Jamaican electorate. The difference is that while some will only watch to criticise others more enlightened, patriots, will “watch and pray”. May God bless Jamaica land we love.
Carlos.R.King is the Founder and Executive Chairman of The Jamaican Empowered Voter Association- (TJEVA) a Think Tank and Voter Advocates, based in St. Catherine, dedicated to Jamaica ’s development.
TJEVA- a non-partisan, non-denominational, non-sectarian- NGO