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The third tribe will not be silenced – Dawes

Published:Wednesday | November 25, 2015 | 11:00 AMAnastasia Cunningham

Describing Jamaica as a "failed nation, not a failed state", Dr Alfred Dawes, immediate past president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), said the time was long overdue for Jamaica to break the back of tribal politics, which has turned Jamaicans into their own enemies, leading the country down a destructive path.

"Jamaica is not a failed state, as once was said, but instead, a failed nation. The State still provides law and order and maintains the social and economic constructs that make us a liveable country. However, it is the people working together for the common good of all that defines nationhood," he said yesterday while speaking at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's (PSOJ) President's Forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

"But instead of uniting for the development of our country, we have created divisions and engaged in subversions that have resulted in our nation being torn apart. And for that, we have failed as a people; we have failed as a nation."

He continued: "We are the reason why we have economic stagnation. We are the reason we have high crime rates and failing schools. We are the reason why we have dead babies. We, through our divisive politics, have destroyed the dream of what could have been a greater Jamaica. We have created our own tribes based on political allegiances."

 

THE THIRD TRIBE

 

Going further, Dawes pointed out that outside of the two ruling political tribes - the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party - Jamaica had a third tribe, which the powers that be would be forced to reckon with.

"I speak of the tribe that has been repeatedly spat upon, abused, disrespected, and exploited by the two ruling tribes. I speak of the tribe comprising those whose votes cannot be bought and who do not contribute significantly to the ruling tribes. These are the people who will never see the benefits of handouts come election time or be rewarded with top jobs and lucrative contracts by whichever party is in power," he declared.

"They stand to get nothing because of their shifting loyalties and refusal to vote consistently along party lines. They do not vote, so governments are not determined by their favour."

He said it was because of Jamaica's tribal culture that the country would continue to have boards and committees stacked with political appointees and promotions "not based on merit, but on those who are more devout Comrades or Labourites".

 

THE WINDS OF CHANGE

 

Dawes declared that because Jamaicans were now fed up with the state of affairs, "we, the oppressed tribe, will not be intimidated into cowering in fear and not speak up less we be persecuted. It is up to us who see without a green or orange tint to save Jamaica - the Jamaica that at her birth, was a shining example of what self-governance should be. And we have already begun. The winds of change are blowing and the old order is crumbling. The times are changing. Those who have been silent are now finding their voices. Hope is once again alive - the hope that divisions created by one generation will be torn down by a new generation of patriots."

He said that the checks and balances of democracy no longer lay only with the opposition party of the Westminster system, but with a new mass movement for change, a movement, he said, that was aligned with the media, the private sector, and civil society groups.

"The deferred dream of one generation is being fulfilled by the sustained advocacy for better governance by another," he said.

Dawes charged: "Whether you realise it or not, we are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of our country. The battle lines have been drawn, and you must choose your allegiance. Years from now, when the story of this struggle has been told, which side of history will you be on? Will you be a defender of a corrupt system, or will you be on the side of those who fought for better governance, transparency, and accountability? The moment to decide is now. And the choice you make will determine whether we continue down this path to destruction or we unite to create a greater Jamaica."

Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica president, William Mahfood, told The Gleaner that it was both refreshing and heartening to hear the dialogue taking place across the country and seeing more bright, young persons stepping forward to lead the charge.

He noted that through social media and other means, he was seeing many more calls to action for good governance and accountability.

Describing Dawes' views as quite frank and open about the state of affairs and the history behind how Jamaica's health sector got to this stage, Mahfood said he was encouraged by the fact that not all was lost and that Dawes had rightly pointed to that wind of change towards a better Jamaica that he himself had seen in a short period.

"What we need to do is continue to press and advocate that those changes continue to be more and more in the best interest of the country and the people of Jamaica," Mahfood said.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com