Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Apryl July: Second term promised to no party

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Apryl July
Ninety-nine-year-old Agatha White being assisted to the polling station to cast her vote on February 25.
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In our 53rd year of Independence, it seems as though Jamaica is finally growing up. By this, I'm making no reference to our economy, but rather to our people. The electorate is wising up.

The message sent election night was: DO THE JOB OR LOSE THE WORK. There is nothing special about either party. You are replaceable. We do not particularly care about the colour. Even with the low voter turnout, this message was resoundingly clear.

Even when the PNP, confident in its position, decided to focus on tangential issues, the JLP focused on the real issues, and that is what people want to hear about.

The commitments that our politicians make today will affect us for years to come, and people are showing that they want to be part of the decision-making process. People want more than rallies and DJs and 'throw wud' and excitement. Like a child that is moving past wanting only milk, we want solid food. The people of Jamaica do not want to be dismissed or treated as though they are to be seen but not heard.

We are not just for loading up on to buses and making a show of the 'acres of people' that you've got to turn up at your rally. We do not consist only of an articulate minority that use our smartphones to express our views. We are not children to be 'whipped'. We are not children waiting merely to be told the decision of mamma and her Master. We are Jamaicans; we want the best for Jamaica and we will use our vote to get it.

In my short lifetime, I've seen the PNP for 18 years, JLP for four years, PNP for four years, and now the JLP again.

Whether Mr Holness can make good on his promises or not is yet to be seen. One thing is certain, though he must do the job or lose the work. This extends to his ministers and MPs.

Cabinet appointments should not be based on rewarding the long-serving, but rather on who will get the job done and done well. Roads and other critical infrastructure should not be fixed on the cusp of an election so that it is fresh in our memory and as though it can wash over a multitude of errors and omissions. The electorate has grown past the tribalism, and we are moving to a new age in our political system.

The days of talking, winning, and not following through are at their end. People - young, old and in-between - are at their wits' end and want better for Jamaica.

 

NO MORE THREE TERMS

Cliff Hughes said on JNN on election night that the three-term era is gone. I am of the view that on election day, the people of Jamaica said: Here's your one term. Use it well. A second term is promised to no one.

Following naturally from having one term to prove itself is that each party should be less at liberty to go off on a frolic of its own and detract from what the previous government was doing. The one-step-forward, two-steps-backward dance that our politicians do in trying to chart their own specific course will have to be altered.

Pulling the house apart to put it back together in the way you specifically want it won't work, and when the time is up, complaining that the other party was not doing the right thing so you had to undo it won't work either.

It is time for our politicians to put aside their selfish goals and ideals and move Jamaica forward. People aren't interested in whether the JLP or PNP can do better for Jamaica. We're interested in what is best for Jamaica being done. Finally, we can begin to move steadily towards goals that are in place such as Vision 2030.

Mr Holness should seek not only to make good on his campaign promises, but also to resolve issues highlighted in the course of the election period, including giving the political ombudsman teeth to bite and not just the ability to bark; to ensure that the election day is set in stone so that no one need wait for a touch from the Master; the need for election-day machinery to be resolved; and the process of moving casting your vote towards being automated.

There were some Jamaicans who felt they saw nothing to vote for, and as such, they refrained from voting. Also, many voted for what they considered the lesser of the two evils. Many measures have been suggested, including mandatory voting and automatic enumeration.

 

NO CONFIDENCE

I am of the view that voter turnout would be significantly heightened if the electorate had the ability to indicate a vote of no confidence on the ballot. This way, there could be a measure of those who are actually disenchanted with the political process instead of continually making inferences based on the percentage that does not show up to vote. Also, there are many Jamaicans living outside of the constituency in which they are to vote, or even outside of Jamaica, who would wish to cast their vote. Consideration must be given to those who wish to be included in this process.

The election day process is incredibly costly and it would be great value for money if more persons contributed to the process. It must be assessed and determined how the voting process can be made more all-inclusive.

Votes are the language politicians understand. Rather than complaining about what is or what is not, we have to realise that we are the policemen of politicians and voting is our first line of defence. Accountability is what we are seeking to achieve.

We are not Labourites. We are not Comrades. We are Jamaicans.

Jamaica really won on election night. I hope that Jamaica will not lose our momentum or become afraid of the sound of our own voices. We must continue and hold our politicians accountable as we go.

• Apryl July is a second-year student at the Norman Manley Law School and a real-estate agent. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and apryljuly@gmail.com.