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Monday, September 25, 2023

Letters: New Gambia must not be too top heavy!


Dear editor,
New Gambia is the face of Gambian society evolved from a long political process of deconditioning, endured from a sustained era of a presidential dictatorship and autocracy, into an era of democracy and open society only 3 years ago.

An open and genuine democracy in all its models will install the conditions to protect the growth and entrenchment of democratic practices especially in public governance at all levels and sectors of society.

In a democratic regime national policy in particular must dictate a mechanism with a continuous process of consultation and engagement of citizens at all levels and sectors in the decision-making process of society.

Under the special circumstances of the Gambia now, flexing out of the grip of an entrenched dictatorship into a new phase of democracy, we must always try to enforce the law of the land but in many cases NAMS and law enforcement authorities must do so on the basis of conscience and commitment to the ideals and values of the change we scripted in New Gambia.

Change is a process but it takes leadership to lead the process. And any NAM can see him/herself in that position of leadership in the process of legislative reform in New Gambia.

I think this is best way forward into a genuinely reconditioned society in which all the conditions exist for the growth of a balanced model of democracy, with little opportunities for the growth of nuances of a dictatorship of elites lurking in the system.

We must not have another form of social construct that exists for the continued control and direction of society, with the tactical disengagement of the much broader, lower end of society, living in deprived and depressed local communities, by the upper end of the political and professional classes of society, which constitute less than 10% of the population, living in comparative affluence and privilege.

If we can take the recently announced revenue and expenditure of local government authorities across the country as a proxy for the GRA, this barely 10% of the total population is what consumes over 70% of total tax revenue from all sorts of income sources available, or sometimes not even available to them.

The NA must do the needful. They must put aside that obnoxious law that puts party over Member in the local governance system of the Gambia.

With their collective conscience for a better and more durable New Gambia, they must insert the needed clauses in our laws that protect directly, and strengthen the voices of local communities and their structures of development and poverty alleviation, over the voices of political party ranks with their dictatorial and self-perpetuating tendencies.

The purpose of decentralisation, the prescribed local government system in New Gambia is less, to strengthen national politics and more, to strengthen local empowerment and participation in the structure and process of Gambian politics.

The intention is to promote and protect local democracy, local service deliver, local development and local initiatives in poverty alleviation.
Kemo Conteh

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