Sunday, 22 May 2011

Coalition For Change: Contradictory or Complimentary

Our guys in the press are pushing on to direct participation in politics. The new outfit grouping, spearheaded by Ndey Tapha is a bit baffling. If Ndey Tapha is still the exile head of GPU Gambia, isn't it a contradiction, she is also the head of the Coalition For Change?
I am only wondering. It is not wrong for journalist to dabble in politics, can they practice their trade independently and fairly whilst involve in affirmative action?
Or is it my misunderstanding of the purpose of the group? Could it be that, a practising journalist can also be a politician (like Foroyaa staffers, i mean the senior editors)?
This issue require thorough analysis..
Can Ndey Tapha head two different organisations and not be bias towards one? GPU respective bodies are doing a good job. However, our difficult struggle is opening many windows...
My thoughts

Omar Joof’s response:
You have made some very pertinent observations, which have bearings on some of the old fashioned contradictions in formal strictures that have restricted public participation in Gambian politics. Though I cannot even pretend to speak on behalf of The Coalition for Change, I am motivated by the pertinence of some of your observations to respond.
During the colonial era civil servants were prevented from participating in politics because national politics was in contravention of their employer's ( colonial government's) agenda. The only option available to them if they wanted to participate in national politics was to resign from their positions in the civil service. At independence this practice was carried on without some radical review. Somehow it barred some of our best brains from directly participating in national politics leading to the anecdotal that " those with "E" grades in class", take part in national politics. This to a considerable extend was responsible for some of the below standard performances we recorded in our national development endeavours.
The policy should have been eradicated on Independence Day way back in 1965, but it still obtains in The Gambia. Its eradication would allow more high calibre individuals to at least periodically join the political fray, and later perhaps go back to their professional activities. Their individual professional expertise can only improve the quality of the national debate and make more professional skills directly available in solving political issues. The sum total would have been an absolute enhancement of representative government and good governance.
In The 1970s, Authorities in The Gambia started to make debilitating attacks on organized labour with intent to undermine its bargaining power, in line with the wishes of the capitalist estate. This prepared the grounds for mass workers retrenchment exercises in the 1980s, thanks to the horrors of the so called Economic Recovery Programme.
In modern times however, civil society organizations in the right environments have become the harbingers of relatively more democratic regimes. In the case of The Gambia, and in terms of our present needs, we have an almost empty space to fill. We need more civil society organizations like The Coalition for Change, which will radically pursue the interests of their respective memberships, as part of our overall struggle for national emancipation and development. Their roles shall become even more crucial in A New Gambia, where there are term limits for key political offices.
Thus depending on how The Coalition for Change defines itself and acts in pursuance of its agenda, there should be no contradictions or conflicts of interests. We need more such civil society organizations.
Best of regards,
Omar Joof.

My Response to Omar Joof Canada
You have widened the scope I intended to convey in the initial analysis. You are right, Still now, if one wish to contest for a member of Parliament, he/she must take an unpaid leave, in many cases, if you intend to contest for an opposition, the leave will not be approve, therefore, the best option is to resign. This unjust and unfair system is what made the Likes of Lamin R Darboe, a qualified teacher to resign and contest for the Kombo East seat. In failing to secure the seat, one has to look for alternative source of employment or travel abroad.

The main gist of bringing up the subject is to alert the media practitioners that, the expression of dissatisfaction against the crops of politicians we have, should Jammeh continue to hijack the system and remain in power, will bite them as well in the future.
I have the feeling that, the many commentators who are regularly analytical of our politics, be they journalist or critics of Jammeh or the opposition in the Diaspora will be direct competitors for power in days to come. Therefore, is the 'Coalition for Change', a preparatory network for such eventuality?
If so, then keen readers and stakeholders in Gambian public live issues should take note. We have seen journalist like MK Jallow called for a day of Rage, is such call sanctioned by Journalistic ethics?
Say for instance, the constitution eventually is amended to allow for Diaspora Gambians to contest for Presidency tomorrow, many working towards Uniting the opposition may eventually become leadership contenders themselves..
And also, within the media fraternity, there will be no doubt a face off for leadership, in short a power struggle between the notable ladies and men...Your call for a more civil society involvement in politics is dynamic and I too encourage it. However, we all realise that, each of our political opposition leaders want to eventually become the President of the Gambian Republic. There is no ifs and buts about that. Therefore, I was looking at the men and women of the Press as the only avenue where independent analysis of issues affecting Gambians will be appreciated and achieve without fearing their neutrality.
Me and other partisans have no problem recognising where each commentator of Gambian opposition politics stand. Ndey Tapha leading the GPU Gambia, and the Coalition For Change to me raises serious complex issues. I am not saying she cannot become a politician or actually take part in politics, since we are all politicians in many ways than we would accept. Journalist groups in the GPUs, and other offshoot organisation are raising the stake higher.
At the end of the day, it will become who is more well known, who is more experience, who has sacrificed more, who commands more respect than the rest of the Journalist community etc etc.
Where will all that leave the Gambia Press Independence in reporting on our public matters?
Thanks Joof for your intelligent response.

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