Gleaner Editors’ Forum | 'Willie Lynch phenomenon' holding back Jamaica, says PSOJ president
The permeation of the 'Willie Lynch phenomenon' is one of the main reasons why good governance is lacking in Jamaica, insisted Howard Mitchell, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), during a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday at the newspaper's Kingston office.
The name Willie Lynch was made famous through its link to a letter believed to be written in the 1700s by William Lynch, a slave owner. In the letter, Lynch enlightened other slave owners about his secret method of controlling Negros, which was to influence blacks to fight against other blacks. He also explained that they were to be kept psychologically dependent on slave masters.
"Arising out of the slavery- Willie Lynch-colonialist experience, which was very pervasive in Jamaica, we built our political structure on that experience of client-patron relationship that says, 'I keep you and take care of you if you are a good boy. If you are a bad boy, you get strikes'. That is why some of us have played that role. I think that needs to change because it underpins our lack of independence and sovereignty," said Mitchell.
He continued, "Until we get rid of the notion of client-patron relationship, where you come and promise free education and free health if you vote for me, we won't have proper growth and development. We need to change those notions because that is what is holding us back. We have thrown the good out the window and have taken up the bad. What we have to do with our cultural experiences is keep them in front of us and understand why we behave how we behave so we can modify our behaviour to achieve objectives."
Alvin Wint, lead independent director with the National Commercial Bank Financial Group, told the group of journalists and editors that "Jamaica's economy has performed very, very poorly, and this is largely a result of poor governance across several sectors, led by poor governance at the political system level."
However, Wint added, "I think that that is improving because in the last five years, although we have the client-patron issues, we have seen a situation where both political parties have said that we are trying to break with the tradition of simply saying we are doing whatever will result in short-term benefits."