To note that Jamaican politics is sick doesn’t take deep thought. Economists are supposed to be able to spot trends. Two events don’t mark a trend but you can start to following the line. If corruption is a downward trend in social development, then this line is pointed steeply downward. Why? Corruption and criminality.
Lloyd Smith (MP for Central St James) want straight there: he had made clear, in June, that corruption at all levels of society, including the government, made his position untenable.(Listen to his interview on Nationwide Radio.) More recently, he talked about “…several anomalies, skullduggery, and acts of corruption that took place…” in the local selection process. “What is happening here is scandalous, and I will make my overall objections.” He noted that, should the executive of the PNP fail to listen to and address his concerns, he would be prepared to go public, possibly to the detriment of the party: “If the party does not act swiftly to address this situation, then I am prepared to go public … I am prepared to go public and some of what I will go public with might be earth-shattering … because what happened here today was a travesty of democracy … . What happened here today was not democratic … The democratic process was hijacked.”
Why make it conditional, Lloyd? Surely, that’s a corrupt stance. We may get to know more, soon, because Mr. Smith decided to withdraw from the process. Who’s worried and quivering at the knees? He’s reportedly had death threats, since his statements. Police are supposedly investigating those. But, I’ve not heard of anyone investigating his corruption claims. Mr. Smith’s actions do smack of crying wolf. At best, he wanted to leverage what he claimed to know for a better personal outcome. At worst, he’s already been captured by the process.Then, we have the case of Lydia Richards, eventually not contesting the nomination for South East St. Ann, with sitting MP and Cabinet minister, Lisa Hanna. Ms. Richards claimed that the delegates list was corrupted, including dead people (some deceased more than five years ago) and people who had no idea they were on the delegates list. In a letter she sent to Paul Burke, she blamed him as PNP General Secretary for ‘facilitating the criminal actions that have resulted in the fraudulent voters list sent out from your office for the selection conference in our constituency’. She also alleged various forms of fraudulent practices, including removing the names of people or groups critical of the sitting MP.
Nevertheless, the selection process went ahead at the weekend, and the single candidate standing was ‘nominated’. Interestingly, the turnout was less than 50% (468 delegates out of 1000), which suggests several things: the support for the one candidate standing wasn’t that strong, or in fact the dead or ignorant couldn’t be present, for obvious reasons.
At least in this case, it seems that the allegations of corruption may be investigated, following reports that the Office of the Contractor General is probing several councillors, as well as possible misuse of public funds.
Most ordinary people in Jamaica believe that politicians work with a modified dictionary; it contains the opposite meanings of common words. So, ‘integrity’, for instance, means being devious and crooked; ‘truthfulness’ means ability to lie through one’s teeth.
If these instances are not to be proven to be vindication of such views, then business as usual, and sweeping things under the carpet, or smoothing it over in closed rooms, can’t be the order of the day. Then again, it just may be.