Politicians perpetuating slavery - Mitchell
One of the country's leading businessmen has accused the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and parliamentary Opposition, the People's National Party (PNP), which, together, have ruled the country since Independence in 1962, of conspiring to keep the Jamaican population trapped in economic slavery.
"The plantation system is still with us, and I think the political parties have perpetuated a system of hierarchy that replicates the plantation. The political parties have not engendered equality. They have not moved growth. They have spent their time, for the most part, encouraging division ... I think (the) political parties are a major part of our problem," Howard Mitchell, recently installed president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), told The Gleaner on Wednesday.
Search for the right party
Mitchell, who is also an attorney-at-law, was responding to queries about his disaffection with the country's political leadership over the past 55 years. In his address to the PSOJ's annual Christmas members' luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, Mitchell told his audience about how he had searched in vain to find a political party that really had the interest of Jamaicans at heart.
"I have been a member of every major political party established in this country since Independence. And I have tried to be involved because I've tried to find some political party, some group, with a philosophy that is national in its scope, which is forward-thinking in its reach. Sadly, to date, I have been unsuccessful," he admitted.
Despite this, the PSOJ president has not given up on local parliamentarians being brought to book.
"It's hard, but there are two aspects to it. One (is) the media, of course. Although the media in Jamaica have been disappointing in recent times, it's time we get information to the people and see what they do with it," he suggested, citing the controversy surrounding the procurement of used cars for the police as a good starting point.
"I would like the contract to be published. I would like the minutes of the meetings that were held to be published. I would like the NCC (National Contracts Committee) to be published so the people of Jamaica can make their own judgment as to whether the system works."