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Rout corruption!

Let us promote the virtues of Emancipation and Independence

Kenneth
Richards

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Another Emancipation and Independence celebration, commemorating 186 years and 58 years, respectively: Happy Anniversary Celebration...really!

Indeed, there is much for which we must give thanks to God, and there are many achievements which every man, woman, and child of our nation can acknowledge with pride and satisfaction. However, there is an infection which we have become indifferent to that undermines and dishonours our freedom and right to self-governance.

Emancipation claimed our human dignity that slavery abused and attempted to ignore. Independence claimed our right to self-determination and self-governance from colonial power. Are we now blind to the fact that by our own actions we are perpetuating the vestige of slavery and colonialism by indifference to corruption and ineffective fragmented crime plans?

The economists tell us that corruption robs national advancement and development of $95 billion annually, and crime and violence another $68 billion.

When we speak about self-hate as a remnant of slavery, is it that we accept this as part of our DNA such that we perpetuate this self-hate by institutionalising corruption because “a suh di ting set”? Thus, those who operate according to merit and rights in accord with social justice are viewed as “ediat” because they refuse to accept the commonplace practice of “beating the system”. Radio show host and political commentator the late Wilmot “Motty” Perkins used to repeat: “The man who plays by the rules gets shafted.” Will we perpetuate man's inhumanity to man by living with fear and anxiety, rather than acknowledging that every citizen has a role to ensure a drastic reduction of crime?

With the prospect of the upcoming general election, both major political parties have the motivation to intentionally commit to emancipating our nation from corruption and crime. Will they take the necessary steps to indicate that our nation has leadership with the capacity for self-determination and self-governance to root out the culture of corruption and crime that undermines integrity, self-respect, and a just social order? Will civil society and every Jamaican insist that our politicians make this a mandate and take concrete steps?

It's hard not to be cynical as, in view of the current state of affairs, that hope for such commitment is very slim. The perennial incidents of corruption across various administrations, the recent poll evaluations by Don Anderson and Bill Johnson, and the related vox pop comments have expressed that the majority of Jamaicans believe “ah suh di ting set!” Thus, instances of corruption will not influence how most Jamaicans vote.

This commentary is an indictment on our people and nation!

Surely, we cannot continue with the cycle of partisan delight when credible instances of corruption are established followed by predictable counter-accusations that, “You have no moral authority to criticise!” This cycle leaves too many loyal partisan party supporters uncommitted to advocate for change in their political party.

Party loyalty must not mean that unethical standards go unchallenged without demands for better. The protest by those who withdraw participation in the electoral process has negligible impact. Reliance on the swing voters cannot change the system. Hence, the strengthening of a united position to change the unethical status quo is required.

Our nation's politicians must show intent to promote the virtues of Emancipation and Independence for our people and nation. Their manifestos must include bipartisan and multi-stakeholder strategies to enforce and strengthen current anti-corruption and ethical oversight provisions, and plans that will forge the needed partnership to restrict criminal activity.

In honour of our ancestors who fought and died to claim liberty and respect for our human dignity; in honour of the architects of our Independence who believed in our capacity for self-determination and self-governance; in honour of our nation and people, give us leadership equal to our renowned achievements that makes us proud to be Jamaican.

 

Kenneth Richards is the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kingston. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or chancery@kingstonarchdiocese.org.