Independent Ja failing 'capability test' - Ashley
While arguing that National Hero Norman Manley was not "pre-mature" in stating that the mission of his generation was to gain self-government for Jamaica, outspoken attorney and social advocate Dr Paul Ashley says the island's leaders have failed the "capability test".
Ashley was speaking against the background of the corruption-plagued governance structure of administrations that have led Jamaica since Independence 56 years ago.
The latest scandal to rock an administration, involving the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology, has led to the resignations of a Cabinet minister and several other state officials.
According to Ashley, the failure of governments to act decisively in the interest of the country has proven that Independence was, for the most part, a symbolic change, with accountability thrown out the window.
"In terms of capability, we have failed that miserably," he stated flatly.
Continuing, he said: "The only difference is that Jamaicans were now overseeing their affairs instead of Britain. It was a default position, but Britain was still in charge. You have your elections, your commissioner of police, a governor general that was still white, a Constitution, a head of the Judiciary. It was mostly a superstructure," argued Ashley.
He said it was a symbolic handover and that all the persons to whom power was given were provided a guarantee that the pre-independence system would be continued.
"We have failed the economic test, seriously. There is no argument with that. Can you imagine the humiliation a Jamaican must feel to know that your dollar is not worth one cent to the United States dollar?" he said in disappointment.
Dr Christopher Charles, senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, supported Ashley's view that the country has faced dismal economic failure.
"The economy gets the lowest grade for me. The poor management speaks for itself. Just ask the people in the streets," said Charles.
While stressing that he was proud to be Jamaican, he said that he demanded and expected much more from those who lead.
Charles said that the nation was just above average in relation to the operation of the political system, noting that the elimination of political violence and voter fraud are to be celebrated.
"But political tribalism, arrogance, and corruption are some of the key drivers of political governance, and these have led to serious declining policy solutions," he suggested.
Charles said that the country was only average with respect to the provisions of education, housing, and healthcare for the people, while Ashley said that Jamaica has made some advances with social legislation.