On the brink of what will no doubt be a great celebration next week Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of this regime in office, I openly call for all law-abiding and discerning citizens to spare some time for critical analysis of the subject of good governance. I do so because it is clear that we are maturing politically, perhaps at a rate not fast enough for those who wish to see the day when votes of conscience and not blind party loyalty will be the order of the day. The European Commission has defined good governance as "the transparent and accountable management of all a country's resources for its equitable and sustainable economic and social development."
A number of indicators of good governance are listed including equity, primacy of law in the management and allocation of resources, an independent and accessible judicial system and transparency. The commission recognises that corruption is the main obstacle to good governance.
And so as I write I feel confident that this regime will not interpret my request for a review of its first year of operation as incitement for adverse comment about its performance in government but rather encouragement to those who are truly patriotic and civic minded to assess whether we are firmly on the road of good governance.
Way we were
Based on the utterances of several of its members, the Government has rightly acknowledged that there is room for improvement and so should be anxious to hear the views from those who are not required or simply refuse to sing for their supper. In no way am I suggesting that the country is worse off than before because in my previous articles written at a time when the former government was in office , I lamented that we were going down a rocky road that seemed to be leading to despotism. There was a feeling that a dark cloud permanently hung over us and that that regime had acquired an acute and chronic case of arrogance that was difficult if not impossible to cure.
Foolish and absurd explanations were given for legitimate concerns raised by the population and the escalating criminal activity only made the situation more untenable. Many interpreted the surprise announcement of a snap general election and the overwhelming victory of the current regime as divine intervention and, certainly, it was a wake-up call for those who allowed indifference, ignorance, greed and corruption to brand the type of governance that was being meted out to the people. And while I appreciate that a performance appraisal of this government would involve a comparison of those who governed before, I am convinced that many citizens are frustrated with the frequent use of the transgressions of the past regime to distract the population from focusing on the conduct of this Government that calls for full transparency and accountability.
More than opposing
The discussion about good governance must not be limited to an evaluation of the Government's management of all the country's resources and affairs of the nation. It is crucial that the assessment be extended to include the functioning of the Opposition and whether it has been holding the Government accountable and, when necessary, working together with the Government, for the good of the nation.
It is obviously a challenge for the Opposition that it only has 12 of the 41 seats in the Lower House and such a small number means that there is greater responsibility on Opposition members to be competent and alert in the execution of their duties.
As it stands, the Government has the 3/5 special majority and so it can pass important and far-reaching legislation without the support of the Opposition. While there are some good debaters on the Opposition bench with the leader Dr Rowley being rated as one in the category of best in the House, the work of the Opposition has to be shared by all and there are some who clearly are not up to the task. In the Upper House there are members who have displayed the academic acumen to take on the might of the Government but there must be sustained pressure to question the Government and hold it accountable to the public. That having been said, there have been instances in the recent past when the Opposition has proven that it is up to the challenge of meaningful debate and incisive questioning of the Government on matters of state.
If asked one book that every politician should read, I would say Animal Farm by George Orwell. The novel addresses the struggle of a revolution and the lost benefit of change because of corrupt leadership, gullible followers, cynic bystanders, and naive idealists. The characters depicted could be aligned to political personalities that transcend time, thereby making the novel relevant for eras past and those to come. It is an emotional story that proves that silence instead of challenge and indifference instead of genuine interest could facilitate the destruction of the benefits of a noble revolution. The risk is that instead of striving to get it right and refraining from becoming the monsters in the story, many politicians may actually justify their actions as they emulate the villain roles to the hilt.
Value of change
The value of a product, in this case the Government, should be based primarily on the proven merit of its substance and not the inherent flaws of its competition. To do otherwise would probably result in a mere exchange of product and eventually the recognition by the buyer that there has really been no significant upgrade or benefit conferred by the change. The Prime Minister has indicated that soon there will be a realignment of ministerial portfo- lios and by so doing it is expected that there will be better performance by ministers and greater accountability and transparency in governance. Although the outright removal of non-performing ministers is not a hallmark of the Westminster system of government, it is hoped that this partnership will do all within its power to make the right decisions so that there will be a reason for all to celebrate.