By Nyang Njie
To whom much is given, much is expected. This is an age-old African idiom that describes the new Gambian political landscape. Based on our electoral code and our simple majority of winner takes all, the Gambian electorate have decided to be overwhelmingly yellow (UDP) and this mandate comes with responsibilities and societal expectations based on the campaign promises made during the intense campaign period. A diverse array of political value propositions was advanced by different candidates hence creating a market place of political ideas. The consumers of political thought (Gambian voters) have made their choices known.
The city of Banjul and Kanifing Municipality are in dire need of infrastructural transformation and the work must begin NOW. The victors (UDP) must reach out both in Banjul and Kanifing Municipality to all the stakeholders to kick start a difficult process of rebuilding our derelict public infrastructure. Democracy is a messy arrangement but it is still the best dispensation that brings about and fosters equitable societies. The recently-concluded local government elections (ward, council and mayoral) have brought to light certain things that need our attention and key among those are;
1. The Gambia needs to embark on an electoral reform process that will eradicate the simple majority of winner take all and legislate a majority system (50+1%) which will bring about a second round if candidates fail to meet the 50+1 threshold. Politics is all about deal making and this will foster consensus and compromise thereby reducing the field of candidates vying for office in a given election.
2. Political plurality has taken root in The Gambia as every citizen/ interest group can contest elections. This is a great achievement for our budding democracy. I do hope that the intellectual class of The Gambia will venture into politics to deliver the much-needed direction and value for our societal sociopolitical deliverables.
3. The political enthusiasm of our youth folk is promising considering the size of the youth cluster in our demography. Therefore, the political succession planning is on course for the next generation of leadership crop to emerge. The recently concluded election is a clear testament to the fact that a dawn of a new day has emerged in our political landscape. The youth folk who are the future leaders are not only venturing in politics but are seeking political offices.
4. The virtual political constituency called social media is a distortion factor as a yardstick to measure political viability of candidates on the ground. The real politicking is on the ground and real politicians will not rely on likes and comments from social media to test their effectiveness. Notwithstanding, social media is an important tool in furtherance of our political goals and objectives as it relates to information dissemination.
5. Politics always has consolation and the outgoing Mayor of Banjul has now gotten the message that an overwhelming number of Banjul voters voted against him despite the fact that he is the runner-up in the polls. What is clear is that any vote for any other candidate is a vote against his mandate so the verdict is out – Banjul was done with the incumbent. Next chapter for the city is serious transformation work.
6. APRC though unpopular, remains to have die-hard supporters especially in the Kanifing Municipality. This is not a surprise but they too must either denounce the brutal brute of Kanilai if they want national acceptance or else they will forever be marginalised in our political dispensation. Candidate Rambo Jatta’s strong showing in Kanifing Municipality illustrated a heavy concentration of APRC sympathisers within the municipality and that is not an anomaly considering the demographic mix in some of the areas he polled those votes from.
7. Kudos are in order to the IEC for executing a hitch-free election. Note to the chairman of the IEC: Please do not mess with our pebble/marble. The Gambian voters are happy with it and will love them to remain not the proposed paper balloting system with a higher margin of voter irregularity compared to the marble/pebble.
8. The Government of The Gambia must redraw the constituency boundaries to ensure that the principle of “Proportional Representation” is respected in order to ensure equitable representation at parliament. The logic of five constituencies in the Foni defeats the purpose of proportional representation and therefore supports the gerrymandering tactics advanced by the former government.
It is therefore time to rebuild our communities and the mandate is clear; so let the work begin and as clearly stated in our national song “Ligaye jott naa Gambia am naa bopaam”. No time for politicking as the season of politics has since passed.
Congratulations to all the winners and I do hope they will all reach out to other candidates who lost but are interested in building their communities. God bless The Gambia and her diverse peoples. Out of many, we are one people with a common destiny and ambition. Therefore, communal harmony and brotherhood/sisterhood MUST prevail for the building of a socially cohesive society.
Nyang Njie is an economist by training and an ardent blogger.