LETTER OF THE DAY - Jamaica politicians need to adopt Mandela's approach

Published: Thursday | December 12, 2013 Comments 0


It has been heartening to read and hear the tributes paid by world leaders to that great man, Nelson Mandela. Likewise, here in Jamaica the tributes have been filled with passion and admiration for what this hero stood for, and the examples he set as a leader.

Our leaders should now take this time to reflect on the examples they themselves set and to the legacies that they will leave behind. Both the People's National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leaders should be asking themselves whether the divisive politics they have practised for too long would have been condoned by this giant of a man, Mandela. Would he have smiled on political vindictiveness, victimisation, and discrimination?

I am sure the Sharpeville massacre, in which 69 South Africans were slaughtered by the then-apartheid South African police, filled Mr Mandela with pain and outrage, and similarly, many of us Jamaicans, including our present leaders, were equally sickened by that piece of savagery.

It is, therefore, distressing that the killing of 72 Jamaicans by our security forces during the Tivoli massacre of October 2010 has not enraged our leaders to the point where they can initiate an inquiry after all this time. Can our PNP and JLP leaders truly espouse that they admire the values of a Nelson Mandela, especially his respect for human rights, and not try to live by those values, or are they just being hypocritical in their pronouncements?

So as we lay to rest one of the world's greatest men, our leaders should now atone for their shortcomings in not enforcing the values that he stood for, and promise to do better in the future.

Probably, as a start, and as so many times previously recommended, a truth and reconciliation commission should be established whereby they can expose their misdeeds from Green Bay to Michael Gayle to the several Tivoli and other security forces' killings and abuses.

Shield against abuse

Is it too much, for instance, to ask our Hon Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition in their messages to the nation this Christmas and in honour of Nelson Mandela's memory to say to the families, friends, and relatives of those wrongfully killed or abused by the State over the years that they are outraged and sorry, and promise that they will in future be their shield against such abuses and to redress such wrongs expeditiously? More important, to sincerely mean it and respect such a commitment. Certainly, this would be the greatest single honour that could be paid to Nelson Mandela's legacy.



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