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On PDOIS agenda 2016 publication launch

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PDOIS agenda 2016 publication launch was graced by thousands of residents of Wuli Barrow Kunda, URR, and its environs, on Sunday, 11th May 2014. 

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The strategic objective of 

PDOIS agenda 2016

The strategic objective of PDOIS Agenda 2016 is to build a Third Republic ushering in the era of the sovereignty of the people commencing in 2016. PDOIS is of the view that the highest political expression of the right to self-determination and independence is the founding of a sovereign republic on the basis of the consent of the people, which legitimises their equality in citizenship and sovereignty.  

Hence before 2016 PDOIS has the aim to conduct sensitisation sessions nationwide to ensure that all Gambians are cognisant of the fact that citizenship under a republic guarantees the sovereignty of the person.

The first goal is to put a definitive end to voter apathy by ensuring that upon completion of the exercise each Gambian would recognise that the voter’s card is an attestation of one’s sovereignty and equality in citizenship with all other Gambians without which one is deprived of the power and voice to say how the country is governed .One is thus transformed into an alien in one’s own country.

All Gambians should then feel a self-motivated urge to possess and preserve one’s citizenship card as a manifestation of one’s national identity and a voter’s card as a symbol of one’s sovereignty. 

The second goal is to put a definitive end to sectarian politics which relies  on the perpetuation of prejudices or loyalties based on faith, gender, caste and ethno–linguistic origins and ensure that it is engrained in the consciousness of every Gambian that a sovereign republic is a community of sovereign citizens who enjoy equal rights and freedoms   and are  entitled to equal benefit from public services, irrespective of  place of birth, ethno-linguistic origin, religion, physical features, philosophy,  gender and other demographic characteristics,  in whom the sovereignty of the country resides, from whom  the authority to manage the affairs of the community must be drawn and for whose liberty and prosperity authority to govern is exercised.

 

 A case for electoral reform

PDOIS recognises that since 1965 The Gambia had never had a democratic transfer of power from one party or person to another. In the same vein, the coup d’état and the politics of transition have given rise to a peculiar political situation in The Gambia characterised by the inadequate development of republican and democratic instruments, institutions, values and culture which are requisite to the building of a genuine multi-party system.

This reality begs for appropriate strategies and tactics to bring about democratic change which would usher in the ideal sovereign republic which could put in place a genuine multi-party system.

PDOIS Agenda 2016 proposes two practical tactics to address the political situation.

The first arose out of the initiative of the joint opposition prior to the 2012 National Assembly elections. To combat the abuse of incumbency through the use of state resources and personnel for party political objectives 7 opposition parties petitioned the IEC to convene a stakeholders’ meeting for all to give commitment to upholding the election laws under the watchful eyes of the press and electronic media. The failure of the IEC to meet this minimum achievable step as a start for effecting electoral reform led to the non-participation of 6 opposition parties in the National Assembly elections. The end result was reduced confidence in the electoral system.

In short out of 48 constituencies with 796,929 registered voters only 304,000 voters in 23 constituencies were supposed to have taken part. However, only 154,950 voters finally voted in the 23 constituencies.

The APRC which contested in 23 constituencies had 80,249 of the popular vote. The independent candidates had 60,085 votes out of 18 constituencies.  NRP had 14, 606 votes. 

The Group of 6 continued to call for electoral reform which was further legitimised by the results. Hence when Jesse Jackson visited The Gambia after the executions and asked the opposition what more he could do after the release of some prisoners, seven opposition parties and some independent members of the National Assembly gave him a mediating role for electoral reform. The group of six was transformed in Gambia opposition for electoral reform comprising all the seven opposition parties and some independent MPs.

 In the council elections which followed this initiative, 45 seats out of 114 were contested. The independent candidates won 10 of the seats. NRP did not win a seat. In the mayoral elections in Banjul, out of 21,178 registered voters only 9,733 voted and the independent candidate won.

In the KMC mayoral elections, out of 187,757 voters only 36,755 voters participated. The APRC had 25,773 votes.

Therefore PDOIS maintains that the 2016 electoral cycle opens with a clean slate. Its outcome will depend on how the hearts and minds of the people are to be shaped in these coming two years.

 

The first tactic 

The first tactic is to work for electoral reform so that the second round of voting is restored and upper age limits barring candidature   are eradicated to enable interested parties to test their popularity and leave the electorate to decide the fate of political leaders.

 

The second tactic 

The results of the Mayoral election in   Banjul confirm that even if there is no electoral reform change would come if the people are resolved to support one candidate. Hence PDOIS proposes that, if no reform takes place up to the middle of 2015, opposition parties could meet to decide on how to select one candidate to contest the Presidential elections in 2016.

Electoral reform or not the political parties must be strong on the ground. Hence PDOIS’ plan is to work and consolidate its forces on the ground pending electoral reform or electoral Alliance. This is why Agenda 2016 proceeds to explain how PDOIS intends to address the challenges facing the country.

 

Economic transformation

PDOIS has the objective of   building a self-reliant economy aimed at eradicating poverty and ensuring prosperity   

 

Public sector investment 

In 2014 the estimated expenditure is 10.2 Billion dalasi. If the sum comes from taxes poverty will increase. Hence PDOIS calls for the accumulation of sovereign Nation wealth through mining minerals like illmenite, rutile and zircon which have been found in the coastal strip of Bato Kunku, Sanyang and Kartong as well as explore the oil resources of the country.

It will collect dividends from public enterprises, which as far back as 1998, had a turnover of 804 million dalasi and paid 68 million dalasi into government covers. In 1999 the turnover increased to 940 million and 82 million dalasi paid into government coffers.  

The private sector will be the engine of mobilising capital and foreign direct investment for productive private sector investment to complement the aim of promoting poverty eradication and general welfare through corporate responsibility. In recent years, approximately, 1.6 billion dollars, amounting to more than 64000 million dalasi, is exchanged annually in the foreign exchange market in The Gambia while exports in 2012 earned the country only 92.6 million dollars or 3,680 million dalasi. The investment of the private sector in the productive base of the economy falls far short of the volume of money that is currently in circulation.  PDOIS will ensure that private sector capital is linked to private sector investment 

The cooperative sector will be the engine of accumulation of cooperative finances for grassroots development. In 2007 alone rice import in The Gambia amounted to 557 million dalasis; tomato paste, 121 million dalasis; onions, 18 million dalasis; flour, 130 million dalasis; vegetable oil, 457 million dalasis; fruits and vegetables, 57 million dalasis; milk and  milk products, 149 million dalasis. If agriculture is linked to processing by cottage or light scale industries financed by cooperative financial institutions a sum of over 1,489 million dalasis would have been put in the hands of Gambian producers in one year.

 The Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation invested over 400 million dalasis to purchase and refurbish Ocean Bay Hotel. Such sums of money should have been deposited in a bank serving as shareholder since only a sum of 200 million dalasi is required to establish a bank.  

Hence, the cooperative banking system would be linked to a cooperative marketing system and the family farms organised as cooperatives for family members so that they could be given farming inputs to produce on a large scale and be given fair income as a result of jointly determined prices for their produce.

The informal sector will be the means for promoting a multiplier effect of development down to all sectors which are not reached by the formal sector.

All land will be properly delineated into agricultural, industrial, residential, commercial, recreational, conservational and infrastructural use and all property rights would be determined to put a definitive end to demolitions. 

 

By Halifa Sallah

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