Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Letter of the Day | Vote-buying a political scandal

Published:Friday | February 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Office of the Political Ombudsman continues to receive verbal reports alleging partisan allocation of public resources in breach of the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct (the Code) from politicians and members of the public in and out of election time. (The Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct is found at http://psoj.org/information-center/library-books/2005-09-george-william-...

Complaints received since February 2016 include public utterances, the politicised distribution of resources, fertiliser, road repairs, bushing, the installation of street lights and the buying of votes. Sometimes these reports have substance, other times not.

The Office of the Political Ombudsman investigates these claims in light of the Seventh Standard of the Code, which is a commitment to eschew the cultural practice of political tribalism, including the use of political power and influence to gain a political edge.

Strong, effective campaigning and good governance are encouraged in our democracy. The political ombudsman must support the health of our political system as the watchdog, facilitator, enforcer and advocate for the Standards 24/7 /365.

Section 12 of The Political Ombudsman (Interim) Act, 2002 (A PDF version of the Political Ombudsman (Interim) Act, 2002 can be downloaded at http://moj.gov.jm/laws/political-ombudsman-interim-act) outlines the function of political ombudsman as follows:

"The political ombudsman shall investigate any action taken by a political party, its members or supporters, where (s)he is of the opinion that such action -

(a) Constitutes or is likely to constitute a breach of any agreement, code or arrangement for the time being in force between or among political parties in Jamaica; or

(b) Is likely to prejudice good relations between the supporters of various political parties."

Furthermore, Section 15(2) states:

"The political ombudsman may adopt whatever procedure (s)he considers appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case and, subject to the provisions of this act, may obtain information from such persons and in such manner, and make such enquiries as (s)he thinks fit."

The political ombudsman does not have oversight of the agencies of the State, but there are questions seeking clarity from public bodies that will help reduce political conflict, promote good governance, and respect for our leaders.

The real question is, what kind of Jamaica do we want to live in? We must continue to support and implement systems that encourage positive politics and good governance practices.

DONNA PARCHMENT BROWN

Political Ombudsman

politicalombudsman@yahoo.com