Time for concrete action The Coalition would not and cannot expect to enjoy a long period of honeymoon as the Gambia public, particularly the youth, down trodden and ignored or deceived for too long are eager for the jobs and empowerment promised by both the erstwhile and incoming governments. Barrow’s administration has to address, and fast enough, the issue of jobs and the creation of a level playing field in the private and para-public sector that would smooth the path to jobs and opportunities creation for the youth and jobless. To fully appreciate the magnitude of the activities to be undertaken by the new government it should be understood that whatever the case, the machinery of government should be kept in motion, at least in the interim, to provide needed public services, without which society will be chaotic. In addition, there are the results of the Jammeh administration’s mismanagement of the affairs of the state that must be addressed to ensure rule of law and democratic governance. Institutional and Socio-economic Reforms Needed For the new administration to function efficiently and effectively, the following actions must be taken immediately or as soon as possible: · Reforming the civil and public services to ensure a transparent and corruption-free administration of public affairs without political influence in the discharge of official functions. · Reforming the Constitution to ensure that a better constitution befitting the status of The Gambia as a sovereign, democratic republic is crafted. · Reforming the Electoral Laws to create a level playing field for all who aspire to elective political office. · Expunging from our Laws provisions that have stifled decent, such as the Public Order Act which prohibits the gathering without permit of more than five persons, a draconian colonial relic that has no place in a democracy. · Reforming Press Laws to allow the existence of a free press which will hold the present, and any other Government, accountable to the Gambian public. · Reforming the Judiciary to make it robust and efficient, and composed of Gambian legal luminaries as judges, especially in the Supreme Court, to guarantee that what obtained under the Jammeh regime is never experienced again in this land. · Reforming of the Public Enterprises Sector to make it more efficient, viable and accountable and not posing a threat to either private enterprise or creating any distortions in the allocation of resources within the economy. · Working out social and economic reform programs, preparing policy papers and sensitizing potential donors for a Donors’ Conference before the end of the three year transition, to mobilize the needed resources for the nation’s economic and social transformation. Managing the Transition The diverse motivations and aspirations of the coalition parties give rise to inbuilt fragility in the organic structure of the Coalition, which if not carefully managed could lead to its break up as the component parts compete for dominance and control. Identifying the problem is a lot easier task than proffering solutions. The suggestions proffered are intended to trigger insightful thoughts and discussions such that we can arrive at a consensus which will enable the paving of the way to a peaceful and stable nation. How we navigate our way out of this seemingly intractable and untenable situation would be a determinant of results that serve to guarantee the best chances for success during the three years transition period. Our best strategy lies in organization structure and management. The type of organization that is put in place to ensure the completion of required reforms (of which there would be many) would determine the efficiency with which targeted activities are executed and objectives attained, given the constraint imposed by the three years transition already set by the Coalition leadership. Managing the transition requires time and expertise which are not likely to be combined in the same personalities. Therefore, if Coalition leadership decide to take cabinet level appointments, it is unlikely they will have time enough to supervise and adequately participate in the reform processes that should form a major component of the reforms to be undertaken during the transition as a matter of necessity. To reduce the pecuniary urge by Coalition members to take cabinet level appointments, the President may, under provisions in the 1997 Constitution, create a Reform Council and various other Special Committees headed by key members of the Coalition to be remunerated (salary and benefits) at levels not inferior to those given cabinet level appointees. Granting this arrangement, the day-to-day administration of Government ministries during the three years transition may be devolved to technocrats with relevant expertise and track record to ensure that the social and economic programs elaborated are efficiently executed with periodic monitoring and vetting by an oversight body made up of selected Coalition members. Once the management structure of the transition program is agreed, there would need to be developed a matrix of implementation outlining, among other things, the tasks to be carried out; the time frame by which target activities have to be completed and by whom; reporting requirements and when reports should be submitted to Cabinet for consideration; a scheduled date for a referendum on the new constitution; and a projected date for the Donors’ Conference and which donors to be invited. Conclusion With these tasks properly programmed and executed, the transition would stand a better chance of success than any other ad hoc arrangement tossed around in the guise of a reform policy. “Team Barrow” should allow itself reasonable time to reflect on the issues raised and map out a considered approach that would best address the challenges that lie ahead. No one expects the journey to be easy but with commitment and transparency, The Gambia would have a second chance of creating a democratic society that would be the envy of all. Bearing in mind that one never has a second chance of making a first impression, any time taken to effectively plan and launch a program of reforms and development would be time well spent. It is hoped that the activities and findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission President Barrow plans to constitute would make it possible for Gambians to fully reconcile their society in order to forge ahead with the task of rebuilding our nation. Alhagi T. S. Alieun Njie]]>
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By Aisha Tamba A former CID officer at Barra police station during the detention of the West African migrants in 2005 has told the TRRC...
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