The recent war of words between supporters of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) in regard to the high profile scandal surrounding the alleged shenanigans at Petrojam and related government agencies that fall under the aegis of the then Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM) has inflamed much partisan anger. This fits into the tribal nature of our politics which since the country’s attainment of universal adult suffrage in 1944, Jamaicans have primarily been divided into two warring tribes forever either fighting to gain state power or holding onto it for dear life.
Historically, the PNP and the JLP have been described as two warring tribes that are consistently squabbling over scarce benefits and spoils. Indeed, it may well be said that in the final analysis it has been a case of no better herring no better barrel. Indeed, what has been unfolding of late could easily be dubbed “the pot cussing the kettle” as both of them are black. In this context, this high level of cynicism has led to a continuing decrease in the number of eligible voters who bother to put their X either beside the bell (JLP) or the head (PNP).
Increasingly, our democracy is being threatened by the tyranny of the minority as fewer voters go to the polls which in essence means that the party in power save for the “first past the post” system as espoused by the Westminster model as adopted by our founding fathers, who, incidentally, represented both the JLP and the PNP when the Jamaican Constitution was conceptualized, written and enacted in our bicameral House of Parliament. Because of this system, both parties have had a tendency to put their partisan desires above those of the nation. As a result, as the Jamaican saying goes, “finga never say look yah, it always say look deh.”
It is not surprising, therefore, that notwithstanding obvious actions by employees of the State including political representatives, the partisan lines have been drawn in the sand. Given certain pre-election campaign promises made by JLP Leader and Prime Minister Andrew Holness, many well-thinking Jamaicans were anxiously awaiting to see how he would treat these vexing issues in the public domain. Unfortunately, so far, the Prime Minister has seemingly decided to take the moral low ground, not wanting to throw anyone in high places under the bus, giving the impression that there are sacred cows in the hallowed halls of government. This is not a pretty picture.