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Don't watch the messenger, watch the message

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It did not receive anywhere near the level of media attention that it should, but the recent call by the National Democratic Movement (NDM) for a united, non-partisan front on crime is no less trenchant.

Perhaps it is because of the messenger that the statement by the Peter Townsend-led NDM, admittedly still a distant third party, was given so little press. But we better understand that what matters most is the message and not necessarily the messenger.

Said the NDM in its statement last week: “It is an established fact that crime is Jamaica's number one problem and that our murder rate is way above what is considered the standard threshold for a country engulfed in civil war.

“We are doing the Jamaican people a disservice by not fixing the crime problem now. It can no longer be business as usual.

“Despite what may be perceived as best efforts by both parties, crime still remains untenable. It is time to put party politics aside; it is certainly time to put egos aside; it is now time to put the people of Jamaica first.”

The point being made has been made a trillion times before. But until it happens we have to keep at it. It is clear that anything that is good and right and uplifting does not happen overnight, and certainly not without strenuous effort, determination, and a fixity of purpose.

The politicians themselves say it all the time, But don't watch what they say, watch what they do. The garrisons in which crime flourishes and criminals are bred like flies remain intact; they never hand over criminals to the police and their imbecilic one-upmanship game is as cherished as ever.

If they were ever serious about taking crime out of the mindless political football game then the zones of special operations (ZOSO) law would be so structured that the responsibility to so declare a community would be the joint responsibility of both the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition.

What a difference it would have made to see Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Dr Peter Phillips standing side by side as Mount Salem in St James was declared the first ZOSO, and the two touring the community together.

It might seem surreal — and to the unbeliever impossible — but it can happen if we continue to dream and to fight for this beloved country.

Let's not wait on the politicians, who are slaves to their lust for power and can only see every opportunity, such as a ZOSO, for its vote-getting potential. The stench and corruption, once it sets in, is hard to shake.

Under ZOSO, the National Security Council is to convene to receive and consider the written report of the joint command that must be submitted every 10 days. We suggest that at the end of these meetings the nation should be briefed on the progress made or challenges encountered.

In addition, communities should be empowered to request that they be considered a ZOSO, with such requests going before the National Security Council. There are many which desire to give up the killers and monstrous beasts living within but are sore afraid.