Mon | Aug 21, 2017

George Davis | Lie to me, Mama P

Published:Wednesday | November 16, 2016 | 11:00 AM

At the last local government elections on March 26, 2012, then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gave an interview in which she called on voters to give the People's National Party (PNP) a massive win at the polls.

According to Mama P, the PNP needed a huge mandate at the parochial level so it could undertake crucial local government reform. She said then that more PNP councillors would mean a greater number of persons who understood local government. By implication, she suggested that fewer Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors would mean fewer persons who would act as a deterrent to the progress of the local government agenda.

Politicians are at their optimistic best on the eve of every election. But perhaps not even Portia's optimism could accommodate the results of election day. The PNP took 149 of the 228 divisions, 12 of the 13 parish councils, reclaimed the Portmore municipality and got 327,000 more votes than a JLP which, throughout campaigning and on election day, resembled a dog in a horse race.

 

WHAT ACHIEVEMENTS?

 

Armed with this huge mandate and an almost blanket PNP presence throughout the local government tapestry, what has the PNP delivered since being sworn into office in April 2012? Has the PNP excelled in managing public facilities such as parochial roads, water-supply systems, drains/gullies, parks and recreational centres, markets, transportation centres, cemeteries and public sanitary conveniences?

Can you go to a park in any town centre and lounge without feeling as if your nasal passage and the lining of your lungs have been dipped into a vat of stale piss? Can you navigate your way, whether on foot or by motor car, through any bus park without severe delays and an almost crippling fear that you may scratch the 'vehicle' of the wrong handcart man who could retaliate by damaging you or your property?

Have you ever seen a brawl at a funeral when a family turns up to confront members of a mourning party after being told that the spot where they laid their loved one to rest is now the floor for the tomb of a new duppy? Has the PNP excelled in the provision of services such as street lighting and public cleansing?

 

CONTROLLING THE STREETS

 

Or have you ever been afraid to approach your own home after dark because the street lights on your lane or avenue supposedly paid for by your tax dollars have not been working?

Has your parish council excelled in regulating the granting of building and planning approvals, licensing of trades and businesses, street parking and the control of vending in the streets?

Or is the man who began selling juice and cigarettes on the street corner now running a restaurant offering three cooked meals daily with no running water or sanitary convenience available? How many more streetside kitchens must spring up in Kingston beside gas stations, banks and in residential areas for the KSAC to take action?

So forget for a minute the high-flown idea of local government reform. All that I've mentioned just now deals with bread-and-butter issues that define the reason for the existence of local government officials at the political and administrative levels.

So with the huge mandate asked for, and given, to the PNP in March 2012, how many of the day-to-day services and activities have they managed to address even semi-adequately? On the morning of the last parochial elections, Mama P told her interviewer that local government was not a joke. She said that then Opposition Leader Andrew Holness could tell her nothing about local government. She asserted that given her past experience as a councillor and minister of local government, she understood the thing.

Such talk only leaves her with nowhere to hide when contrasted with the PNP's record of service delivery over the past four years. As PNP president and someone who needs no counsel on how to run local government and cause it to yield positive results, Mama P must surely take the blame for her party's failure to deliver.

So after failing to deliver last time, Mama P returns to whisper in our ear, justifying her demand for another chance to get things done. Go ahead, Mama. Lie to me.

Selah.