Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Avoid Manatt report fiasco

Published:Sunday | December 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

As year end looms, it's normal for us who still make claims to being human to reflect on 2015 and employ the natural hope that springs eternal in the human psyche.

That, of course, causes us to recognise major errors in our lives and say it, even if not totally meaning it, that we will be better people.

It seems that of all the classically held virtues, it is not necessarily love or charity that brings us to tomorrow as it is hope, that undefined yet well-needed spark in our minds that causes us to make ourselves better.

I would like to engage you for a moment in one of the most shameful and tragic acts in this country. The killing of more than 70 people in a residential area (yes, those areas are downtown, too) at the hands of the State in a major conflict with gunmen inside Tivoli Gardens in May 2010.

We expect that the written report on the tragedy that was Jamaica's shame does not end up like that report on the Manatt matter. As one who was an ardent viewer of the Manatt enquiry, I was stunned that the report did not square with a lot of the information and testimony that came out in that enquiry.

The Manatt commissioners cleaned up financially, and moved on. So goes life.

One of the most important matters was the person or business entity that paid the more than US$50,000 to the lobbying firm of lawyers.

The very fact that the commissioners did not invoke more of their powers to utilise investigators who could easily map out a paper trail and let Jamaicans know if it was Dudus himself who used funds that were hung out on the line to dry, or a big business entity stepped in to pay over those monies, told me that 'truth' in such a report could only arise as a result of collateral damage.

As we head towards 2016, there are a few things that we know about the Tivoli enquiry, the most important of which is the quite attractive remuneration package. At the end, it will be a game-changer to the three commissioners, not only to them, but especially to us, looking on from the outside.

At the lowest end, one of the commissioners is set to earn just under US$500,000. Not bad for a few months' work. No one would want to deny the individuals their ability to pull in such a hefty payday, especially when we know that they are eminently qualified for the big job.

It is for that reason that I have to suggest belatedly that the terms of reference should have been extended to peer deeper inside the body that makes up garrison politics.

 

DUDUS WAS MORE

 

 

POWERFUL THAN PM

 

In making the attempt in 2016 to move on and grow as a country populated with a bright and highly innovative set of people, it is important that we accept certain truths. One of those was that by the time the PNP retook power in 2011, after its 2007-2011 recess, the 'President' in Tivoli Gardens was potentially the owner of the political structure in Jamaica.

Had the terms of reference been extended to include investigations into the real power of the man whose other aliases included 'Michael Clarke' and 'Short Man', it would have unearthed the fact that he could easily move his influence between areas that supported the party he had attached himself to (JLP) and the rulers and local despots in PNP garrisons.

The investigations would also have revealed that Dudus had so risen to the top of the criminal ladder in the Caribbean, Central America and South America that he had become a main arbitrator in conflicts in that region.

One source told me many years ago that he did it for a price. Just as long as the conflicting parties agreed to the results of the 'arbitration'.

My point is this: How can the report into the Tivoli enquiry be complete when the terms of reference were so narrow as to have created its own shrouding of what ought to be obvious.

Without probing deep inside of the psyche of the garrison germ and its political parent, how will we ever know what really led to the tragedy of the carnage in Tivoli in May 2010?

The public defender, at that time, Earl Witter, QC, had implied in his report that 'love' had long been underrated and that the society needed to be led by those who were prepared to practically portray love to a too-large set of our people who had long been denied it mostly because of state abuse.

In many quarters, that epilogue in his report was laughed at, especially among those who considered themselves legal luminaries. Most likely because their craft had hardened their hearts and their adoration of the purely material had transformed them into the robotic and mercenary.

 

VALUE FOR MONEY

 

Every few people in Jamaica are able to take on an assignment and, after completing it in much less than 12 months, would be able to purchase a new house, take a world trip, and still have considerable change left over going on a spending binge after that juicy cheque is encashed.

For that reason, I was both pleased and disappointed that the commission was seeking the views of the public in assisting it in ensuring that a tragedy like the Tivoli killings never happens again.

Pleased that the commissioners were reaching out to those who are here to assist them and disappointed that they have earned so much in doing an 'expert' job and still they need help.

It is the view of a majority of our people that those at the top of society are always meeting in secret cabals to direct the motions of money, economic power, political pursuits, big legal matters and the extent to which the poorest among us are placated.

As 2016 rolls in, not many of us will be in the mood to accept a flawed Tivoli enquiry report.

Earlier in the year, I had suggested that the details in the report would provide a body blow to the immediate electoral pursuits of the JLP, the party that had powdered, petted and slept with the sordid side of Tivoli Gardens and its 'President', Dudus.

Things have not quite worked out that way as, one, the enquiry had gone on longer than planned, plus the ruling PNP had messed up its own plan for an early election.

The enquiry would have deliberately missed the fact that Dudus' power grew under the regime of the PNP and, in fact, the don based in the JLP stronghold of Tivoli Gardens attained his zenith at the height of the PNP's political power. Was there not a lesson to be learned there?

That Dudus had also infiltrated the ranks of the PNP's street forces and had the potential to be a major player in deciding the outcomes of elections.

It seems to be in hindsight, but I believe that so much raw material has been missed (deliberately?) that the part of me that is purely cynical is telling me that the Tivoli report may not turn out to be value for money.

At that stage, it will be too late to place blame on the commissioners. They were given a job to do and, to the extent that they met all the terms of reference faithfully, we cannot fault them.

As we move into 2016, we would never wish to think that the penning of the report will have any sort of agenda with, or function of, another item expected in early year.

The hope is too high for that, and so are the expected results.

- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and observemark@gmail.com.