By Musa Bah
The report of the Gambia Radio and Television Service on the recently concluded election results carried an innuendo that the United Democratic Party (UDP) lost the chairpersonship in Kuntaur to the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) due to the Kerr Fatou Show. It could be recalled that the Kerr Fatou recorded an episode in Kuntaur following the floods that caused a lot of harm in that region. It was observed that the government did not react early enough after the floods. Thus, this was blamed for the UDP’s loss in that region.
There are three erroneous assumptions in this postulation. The first assumption is that because President Adama Barrow was hitherto a member of the United Democratic Party, the government is a UDP government and thus the UDP should be blamed for any failure of the government. This is erroneous because Adama Barrow had to resign from the UDP prior to contesting as an independent candidate under the Coalition.
The second erroneous assumption is that it was the Kerr Fatou show that swayed the people to vote for the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) instead of the UDP. This is also not factual as the people of Kuntaur and surroundings voted for the GDC in response to the benefits they gained from that party. The party campaigned hard and sold their manifesto to the people. The people bought into those ideas and that is why they voted for them.
The third erroneous assumption is that the GDC winning the chairperson seat in a region is a bad thing for the country. The GDC is a registered political party in the Gambia and thus people have the right to vote for them if their ideas resonate with them. In a democracy, every citizen has a right to vote and to be voted for provided s/he is not barred by the law due to an action or inaction s/he is convicted of. Thus, insinuating that the UDP should win all the eight seats is a misnomer.
Now, the right of the Kerr Fatou Show to hold a divergent view in a democracy is sacrosanct. Kerr Fatou is an excellent platform to hold divergent view which is vital for the development of our democracy. It is never right for a country to be such that there is no divergent view. In fact, divergent views should be promoted at all cost. The Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia in fact makes it a duty of the Government – through public media – to promote and protect the right of people to differ. This is what makes a democracy strong.
On whether it is right for GRTS to have such a statement on their page is a black and white issue.
They should not have such statements as they should be promoting equality when it comes to the political parties. Of course, it could always be said that it is not their official stance but that will not take away their responsibility to own up and investigate who put it there and why. If anyone is found wanting, punitive measures must be taken by the GRTS management so that it will serve as a deterrent for anyone in the future.
We must begin to act in democratic ways. Let us promote diversity which in truth speaks of our greatness. The Gambia is not – should not be – a one party state. We have a multiparty democracy which we must endeavor to protect and nurture. That is where our progress will come from.