PNP should use ZOSO hotline wisely

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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The decision by the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) to establish a hotline for people to report problems with the implementation of the zones of special operations (ZOSO) is not a bad idea in and of itself.

What would be bad is if the hotline was used to encourage undermining of the ZOSO even before it has had a chance to work.

For that matter, the Government needs not overreact to the hotline. It is the duty of an Opposition to monitor any programme that a Government implements and to alert the country if and when best practice is not being followed or the programme is being corrupted.

The country is entering uncharted waters with ZOSO, which will require only the most careful monitoring of its implementation. The entire nation has a vested interest in the success of the programme and no section of the country should want to see it fail.

The bipartisan approval of the ZOSO law in both the House and the Senate was very encouraging to the nation and brought hope that at last our politicians would, at least on the matter of crime, find common cause and stop the political football game.

We will quickly know whether the motive of the PNP for setting up the hotline is good or honourable, if all we see is the usual partisan whining and fault-finding in which the party can see no good, hear no good, and speak no good of the ZOSO.

The PNP should use its hotline to encourage residents in the zones of special operations to embrace the programme, support the joint forces, report criminals, and work with the development programmes to uplift their communities.

We do well to remind ourselves that Jamaica is split down the middle where support for political parties is concerned. We are still a very politically polarised country. ZOSO does not bring an end to that.

In this context, there are bound to be people who would feel more comfortable passing information about criminal activities through their political or party representatives. We see nothing wrong with that.

The governing Jamaica Labour Party might wish to consider establishing its own hotline in the event supporters of the party would prefer to get information to the authorities through their representatives.

In fact, the human rights organisations, which are no doubt watching with great interest how the ZOSO will unfold, might also wish to set up their own hotlines for those individuals who don't want to interact with political representatives or police authorities.

In short, what we are saying is that for the ZOSO to work the entire nation needs to be mobilised to one end — get rid of the criminals and reduce the murder rate to tolerable levels, if not completely.

One thing is sure, if ZOSO becomes a political football it will fail as sure as night follows day. The loser will only be this battered and bruised land we call home. Our politicians must bring their worst instincts under restraint.




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