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Thursday, June 13, 2024

CA owes the public transparency

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By Madi Jobarteh

The people of The Gambia did not ask anyone to form a political party. It is individual citizens on their own volition in exercise of their rights in the Constitution decided to form a political party to seek power and mandate from the people at both national and local levels. Therefore no one asked for a party called CA to be created. Rather it came about by sovereign citizens who created it in exercise of their right under Section 26 of the Constitution. The emergence of Citizens’ Alliance was well received by many including myself simply because their manner of formation of the party meets the most democratic standards than any other party since 1994 as far as I am concerned. 

In its purpose, it claims,

“Citizens’ Alliance strives for inclusive economic growth, upholding democracy, rule of law, good governance with checks and balances for accountability, transparency, and probity through fair, decisive and inspirational leadership.”

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People like me were not only encouraged by its bold expression of these sacred values but were also further encouraged when we saw the caliber of individuals who were members such as Dominic Mendy, Ismaila Ceesay, Raffie Diab, Nenneh Freda Gomez, and William Njie as well as several well-meaning young men and women. Indeed, CA must be credited for truly modernizing politicking in the Gambia with their amazing use of modern tools and technology to reach out to the masses of the people.

As a political party CA is not special and it is not beyond public scrutiny. Hence when a person at the level of the chair of the party resigns there is need for total transparency. Dominic Mendy was no ordinary CA member. Dominic is not even an ordinary person, for in my interactions with him, I find him to be a highly educated, responsible, and principled person. Hence when he decides to join or resign from any endeavour, I have no doubts that he must have thought about it quite well without any emotions, favour or ill-will.

In his resignation, Dominic went straight to charge CA of lack of integrity, trust, and sincerity after having deviated from its values. These are indeed very serious charges against any party coming from a founding member and the first chair of that party.

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Mr. Mendy submitted his resignation on July 6. It took 10 days for CA to inform the public of this major development as its press statement was dated July 16. Why did the CA wait for so long? In its press statement, CA acknowledged the role Dominic played in the formation of the party and described him as “a key pillar of guidance and voice of reason” and thanked him profusely for his services to the party. But in its press statement, CA downplayed the issue between them and Dominic as only a matter of “difference in judgment and perception”. Clearly, what Dominic said is far more than and different from “judgment and perception”.

Dominic is talking about the lack of values, integrity, trust and concludes by asking the party to do an “honest rethink of the sense of honesty in this party”. Look, the fundamental challenge the Gambia has since Independence is the disregard of values. This country has all the material and financial resources it needs. It has all the knowledgeable and skillful people as well as all the tools that it needs to develop and grow as one of the most advanced countries in the world. But what has been hampering the progress of this country is the total disregard of values by our politicians and political parties as well as public officials. This is why poverty, oppression, exploitation, injustice, discrimination, and bad governance continue to be widespread in this country.

Therefore, citizens cannot afford yet again to have another party, especially CA on whom we had huge expectations and hope to exhibit the same disgusting attitude of dishonesty and lack of integrity. It is unacceptable and CA owes Gambians the truth. What is happening in the party such that its founding Chair was compelled to resign? Is Dominic making a false allegation against CA? If so, what is the false allegation? If Dominic is right, then who are those leaders and members betraying the ideals and values of CA? They should be named and sanctioned, and not to cover them up. CA and the Gambia cannot afford another corrupt and dishonest political party and politicians. We have enough of that already to our detriment.

As citizens let us demand transparency, accountability, and probity in our political parties. This is precisely because our lives and futures are in the hands of political parties because they produce the elected leaders who manage public affairs and public wealth. Political parties produce the president, NAMs, mayors, chairpersons and local councils who are the individuals who occupy national and local institutions of governance and development. Therefore, a political party runs a democratic republic. This is why the Constitution has recognized the political party and its right to put up candidates for public elections in Section 60.

Hence if a political party is saturated with dishonesty and calumny then the life and destiny of the country is at risk because they will plunder our wealth and violate our rights and destroy our lives with impunity as we saw under PPP, APRC and now NPP governments. The hard fact is that political parties both in power and in opposition have messed up this country since Independence. Let us put a stop to this obnoxious reality. A political party is not a club of friends. A political party is the highest political expression and governance tool of a civilized people in a democratic republic.

I hereby submit to the entire membership and leadership of CA to respect the Gambian people by being honest and transparent about what is happening in the party without excuse or rationalization. Until then, let us appreciate and celebrate Dominic Mendy for being one politician who has put up values as his guidance. Our salvation and development as a nation lie not in money or infrastructure, but in political parties and politicians and elected and appointed public officials who recognize, accept, and live by values of integrity, honesty, and truth. I hope CA will respond in humility, civility, and maturity.

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