The people voted for hope!

The people voted for hope!

Al Miller

Thursday, September 17, 2020

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We have come through another general election with a resounding victory and mandate from the people being given to both major parties. “Keep your train chugging on the track!” the people shouted to one. “Repair your train and come back!” the people said to the other.

Both leaders, in campaigning, spoke of wanting to build the new Jamaica. Both must now unite to remove the debris and rebuild stronger as priority number one for Jamaica, land we love.

With this second chance to lead the nation being given to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and its new-era prime minister this certainly has raised the stakes and our expectations of them. They must now recognise the awesome privilege granted to them by the people to lead in building the new Jamaica. The responsibility is entrusted at a most challenging time in the history of our nation and the world.

They are going to need the wisdom of God and a pristine commitment of heart, mind, and a bold and courageous spirit the likes of which has not been seen since Independence. I have heard it said that the party was re-elected because of their performance and the manifesto. That is much, much less than half of the story.

If the party believes that is the full story then it is prone to failure before it starts this second leg and will soon find itself sidelined and heading for oblivion. It was re-elected because of performance! Manifesto never count! It came too late. It's the performance, especially the evident infrastructure building that gave our citizens a glimmer of hope in the possibility of the building of a new Jamaica.

The people have long lost faith in the old-styled manifesto rhetoric. The massive humbling loss by the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is an indication and repudiation of all that the politics of the last 40 years represents and the negatives it has brought on the society. Our people want no more of it in any colour! They neither want socialism, capitalism, nor any 'ism'.

What we are crying for is a Jamaica of peace, love, unity, justice, and prosperity with opportunities abounding in a Jamaica that works for all.

The new-era prime minister, Andrew “Brogad” Holness, represented that hope in the minds of the people. The majority of citizens never heard of or saw the manifestos of either party. Let's not deceive ourselves. Jamaicans voted for hope. If the new-era prime minister begins to show a hint that he cannot deliver a new Jamaica he will be rejected faster than butter against sun.

The PNP's double defeat is also part of a prophetic fulfilment that I declared to the two parties 27 years ago. I stated that, on account of the division, wickedness, bloodshed, and other social ills that they both brought upon the nation, their actions caused their own judgement. This was written in a letter published in the then Jamaica Herald of Sunday, May 23 1993, and in the book Divine Verdict and Purpose for Jamaica. This was around the time the JLP suffered the humiliating defeat of March 1993:

“The JLP is mistaken if they believe that the defeat was simply a rejection by the people and corruption of the electoral system, supposedly by the PNP, who outdid them this time. Be it known to them that their defeat was rejection by Almighty God of their evil and corrupt practices. He will not allow them another opportunity to lead this nation until they have cleansed themselves by acknowledging their wrongs and practically removing from their ranks those 'fish and bread' politicians who have demonstrated a commitment to violence and corruption. Their only hope of being elected to again serve the nation lies with the rise of some fresh minds and hearts who are committed to serving the people with integrity.“

In keeping with the above word, the JLP was out of office for 18 years. I further stated then that only with a leadership change would the JLP return to form Government, and when they do the PNP would suffer a similar fate as judgement on their own past. It would be their time to go renew themselves. Failure to do so will see them out for an extended period.

So all the nonsense of the blame game on Dr Peter Phillips, and thinking that “Peter 2” would have given a better chance, is empty. It would only have been a worst defeat. I really am sorry that the axe had to fall on Dr Phillips, because he had much to contribute.

Then there are some politicians who are making accusations about vote-buying as the reason for the PNP loss. This is disappointing, especially coming from a particularly seasoned veteran. Vote-buying, as it is called, or some prefer to see it as encouragement of their supporters to come out, has been part of the corrupt practice by both parties for decades. This is another aspect of our politics that must change in the new Jamaica

Building

Our new-era prime minister and his party cannot afford the error of making their manifesto the primary guide at this time. It has its place, and they must work with it, but of greater importance is wrestling with what is necessary to build the new Jamaica and effectively communicating that vision around which to unite our nation. We need to inspire and mobilise our citizens to engage the hard work and discipline it will take to build that preferred prosperity future we all want.

Building the new Jamaica will demand first a demolishing of the negative elements and systems of the old, and re-lay the foundations to reset the course. Tough, honest and bold leadership is what it will need.

Holness has a nation filled with hope, quite like a former prime minister, Michael Manley, did over four decades ago. It may not be to the same degree, but not dissimilar to how Manley had it in 1972. The people were ready to build, but Manley, through wrong counsellors and an economic policy that could not keep pace with his social policies, soon destroyed the hope of the people.

Holness cannot afford the same mistake, nor can the nation circle this mountain of defeat any more. It is time to defeat the giants in the land and develop our amazing potential. Our people have been living for decades in a pressure cooker and need more than sports and music to feel real joy and real pride to be Jamaican.

They need social justice, visible community transformational upliftment, economic opportunities, and the hope of being able to leave an inheritance for their children should be the primary focus and attainable goal of any 'people first' Government in a smalls, island State with a small population size like ours. It is very doable. Working to make Jamaica paradise for all ought to be the underlying concept within this new “build back stronger” theme.

These times ahead are going to call for bold and decisive leadership with a sharper clarity of vision to shape the kind of Jamaica we want. A Jamaica in which justice will reign, where health and social services are more than adequate for all and where we can overcome the ills which contribute to the issue of poverty and its attendant social problems; not least of which, of course, is crime and violence. No matter how you slice and dice it, our failure to curb crime and violence is a leadership issue. Failure of family leadership, failure of community or village leadership, failure of educational leadership, failure of church leadership, failure of police leadership, failure of constituency leadership, and failure of government leadership.

This reminds me of another related area of disappointing failure, which I am sure is on the mind and priority agenda of the new-era prime minister: Seeing the many constituencies held by some non-performing politicians who boast how many decades they have held seats and, worse, for those whose party has been the Government for a long time. Some of these Members of Parliament have facilitated little or no development under their watch; not even the basics of running water and halfway decent roads available after 58 years of Independence.

A society pressing at a speed to change to the benefit or convenience of the few at the top, faster than the majority can adjust, will court disaster. The hope of our people cannot afford to be dashed.

Exciting times, tremendous opportunities

But while these are challenging times, they are also exciting times with tremendous opportunities. This is why it is going to be important that we are prepared to build new and stronger foundations for the new Jamaica that we all want and need. We know the potential that we have; we currently have resources (bauxite, coffee, water) and new niche market resource potential (REE's, herbs, high end agro), which if properly harnessed can make us the wealthiest little nation in the world. I also believe there are minerals deposits to be found.

But our potential will not be achieved without a new moral outlook, radical positive action, a willingness to acknowledge the errors of the past, and the wisdom to go back to where 'the train fell off the rails', so that we can put it back on track. This vital latter action must be done at the point of exit, because without clearing and cleaning the crash-causing problems at the point of exit we will not be effectively able to go forward.

We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that we can try to get the train back on track miles down the road from where it fell off without dealing with what caused the derailment. If the cause of the derailment is not fixed, then it is only a matter of time before it will repeat itself. So, leadership has to be prepared to take the responsibility and get back to where the derailment took place and fix it so the future train rides can be safe for all. Most of us know that life operates in cycles and what goes around will come back around.

With this unwritten socioeconomic train law in view, I warn that if the cause of the derailment where the line broke is not fixed, our national train cannot properly move forward. Even if we show a bit of progress toward prosperity because of some strong leadership, we will still be setting up ourselves for problems in our tomorrows.

Rev Al Miller is senior pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or pastormilleroffice@gmail.com.


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