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Needed: a change in the mindset of our politicians

Published:Thursday | October 29, 2015 | 10:01 AMJaevion Nelson, Contributor

Many of our leaders seem to have begun their political life prematurely, while others are tenured but performing at the level of a first-term parliamentarian. Our leaders seem to spend more of our (and their) time and resources in squabbles and scoring political points that do nothing but mobilise their respective bases. It's a pity there are no mandatory courses to develop one's ability to act maturely and in the best interest of the people who elected them to serve, and not the party they are affiliated with.

The banter on either side of the political divide around the death of 19 babies, 26 per cent increase in murders, acceding to the Caribbean Court of Justice, and the hardship being faced by many of us is appalling, to say the least. It's as if the cadre of largely very intelligent people who we have put our trust in to pursue national development are just heartless and morally bankrupt. Can you imagine not even the death of babies can cause us to put aside politics to focus on what's really important?

Our politicians leave us wanting. Why is everything politicised? Do our leaders not understand their roles and responsibilities as parliamentarians? Do they realise that we require much more of them than handouts, repairing of roads, sponsoring sports competitions, and/or attending funerals and graduations? We are waiting with bated breaths for bold and transformative leadership that will inspire us and build our confidence that we have a meaningful and purposeful Parliament.

 

PARADIGM SHIFT NEEDED

Jamaica is ripe with possibilities, but our political leaders have been inept at capitalising on the opportunities we've had to be more than just a well-known country. Bruce Golding was absolutely right: "We are too rich to be so poor, and too blessed to be stressed." We need a change in the mindset of our political leaders and citizenry; a paradigm shift for us to be empowered to achieve our fullest potential; the economy to be prosperous and the society to be safe, cohesive and just.

While I am very ecstatic about some of the legislative changes that have taken place in recent times, it shouldn't have taken an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for this to happen. Why are we so dependent on foreign entities to get anything done? It is rather unfortunate that decisiveness and action are so sparse among the chosen 63 members of parliament (MP).

We are overwhelmed with the divisive nature of and way in which we practise politics in this country. Seemingly, this attitude has frighteningly seeped little by little into the Senate, which is where we normally look for hope and political maturity. MPs and senators are distracted, senselessly opposing each other - even on matters that one would think shouldn't be so controversial. The more they carry on this charade of acting in our best interest and for nation building, the more difficult it is to believe there is any difference on either side of the House.

 

THE NEXT ELECTION

Is it any wonder that 53 per cent of young Jamaicans, 18-24 years old, believe it doesn't matter which party forms the next Government, and 47 per cent would not vote in the next general election? The actions of our leaders have left our young people despondent. Their future and their hope are invested in a strategy to get the hell out of Jamaica. What does this mean for development when the return on our investment is a mere couple million US dollars in remittances? Why doesn't the loss of our human capital - our most valuable asset - seem to be of much concern to us?

It is time we take ownership of our future and capitalise on the opportunities we have to make Jamaica a better place to live, work, raise families, and do business. We cannot be resigned in hopelessness and complacency about our future. We cannot afford to continue on this trajectory. We need to purge ourselves and nation of the pandering to populism, politicking and myopic ways of being and doing.

Let us put Vision 2030 - The National Development Plan - into action regardless of which political party forms the next Government. Stop paying lip service to the plight of the poor and the needs of our young people. Put the people first.

- Jaevion Nelson is a youth development, HIV and human-rights advocate. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com.