Part 6: Our Presidential System Is A Perversity:
This presidential system will kill us:
Alagi Yorro Jallow
The Gambia is a country of bestriding giants and cowering ants. That poverty and unemployment of the youth folks is killing Gambian children of anyone else. This is the country our leaders gave us since independence and has since been sustained by former president Jammeh’s autocratic rule and the kleptocratic rule of President Barrow. The Gambia: It is a country of winner takes all in everything. A country of extremes in riches and poverty; a nation of extremes in power and powerlessness. A cold-blooded nation of the well-fed not knowing that anyone else lacks.
Whether under autocracy or in Kleptocratic rule, the architecture of the Republic of the Gambia has remained largely exclusionary and, even, reactionary. Those who reign rule for themselves and themselves alone. The system which created it further waters it with torrents of impunity. The system suffocates patriotism and elevates triumphal, parochial sentiments. It has unapologetically been serving the interest of, only, the (economic and political) landlords of the moment. And, because it does not care who dies or who is dying, there is perpetual tension in the land.
If it was like that with the founding fathers of this country, would we be looking back at their era with so much nostalgia today? If that wasn’t what birthed this country, why do we think we can grow on it?
We have seen the millions in the corruption scandals and in the other corruption scandals unfolding across the country, and we all continue to shout in pretentious shock. We all know the system we run drinks money and monies were spent provided by the donor community. We also know the kind of money this system demands are not what can be legitimately earned. The system constructs corruptions everywhere, including in the sanctimonious previous regimes. If Adama Barrow is opened too, are we sure of how many millions of us would faint in utter shock? We cannot blame the politicians. We should blame the political system that made Adama Barrow to campaign and spend money in Mankamang Kunda. We should condemn the system that compelled Yahya Jammeh to developed Kanilai at the expense of the voters. You cannot run under this presidential system and say you want to successfully fight corruption. It will be a contradiction, an act of hypocrisy.
It is the same system that makes presidents trust and appoint key government officials from only their places of birth. Because presidentialism is a “Mansayaa or Burr” system, presidents can lock out any part of the country from the power center and rationalize it. He cannot be safely questioned by anyone on the actions and inactions of his presidency. And no matter the depth of the low they sink in governance, they sit tight. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigned because he lost the Brexit vote — an ordinary referendum. Why is it that we have not had any leader in the Gambia offering to quit because they lost the economic power to meet their obligations to their people? Why is it that when we elect people under our presidential system, they start campaigning for the next election almost immediately? Why is it that the forces of the Gambia’s politics are so remote from the people and do not appear to know or appreciate the extent of the people’s suffering everywhere?
We have transited from a “conservative” party to a “progressive” party. That appears to have been the only thing that has changed in the ecology of governance in this country. Those whose populist mantra in the years of struggle was reform of the structure of the country have since pressed the mute button the moment they hopped on the high horse of power.
Can we survive this money-sucking presidential system which feeds only the powerful? The clear way out is a fundamental change in the way we structure and run our country. The presidential system that gives all resources to persons in power can only lead to where it has led us. It has not worked for the ordinary person and will never work.
Fela sang about “suffering and smiling.” That was decades ago. Today, the town is no longer smiling. Life frowns upon the people’s very existence. At every level of government, what has been on the burner is pure politics. But it is not strictly the problem of the persons running the system. It is a deeper, systemic problem. If we change our ruling parties a million times, we will likely get the same results. This presidential system is unworkable for us and it is not working for us. It kills and so must yield for something less expensive, more accountable, more flexible.