Holness, Golding vow to tackle crime together
In a rare show of unity on Wednesday, leaders of both major political parties pledged to work together to stamp out the bane of violence in Jamaica and achieve the peace citizens desire.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who leads the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and Mark Golding, president of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), used the fourth staging of the Annual National Day of Prayer, held under the theme ‘Heal the Family, Heal the Nation’, to demonstrate this new alliance.
Both men, who were slated to deliver scripture readings during the third session of the ceremony held at Power of Faith Ministries International headquarters in Portmore, St Catherine, spoke on the vexed issue of violence and drove home the need for a unified front to tackle the nagging problem.
Just before delving into his scripture reading, Golding pointed out that the ceremony itself serves as a means of encouraging unity among the leaders, which is required to effectively deal with the scourge.
“One of the beauties of this occasion is the fact that it is a non-political event where the prime minister and myself can come together, sit beside each other and feel the spirit of the Lord in this place, in this holy sanctuary. And this is what the people of Jamaica want to see, they want to see us coming together in unity so that we can collectively face all the challenges of the nation and overcome them for the benefit of this generation and generations to come,” he said.
Holness, after returning to the lectern to give extended remarks, said he was happy that Golding highlighted the unity the occasion affords between them “because sometimes it can appear as if we are divided and I firmly believe that in all our hearts, we want the same thing — we all want peace in our country. We all want to be able to live in some form of comfort.”
The prime minister stressed that the country’s leaders have to deal with the issue of reducing violence “in a deliberate way, in a non-political way. It is something that we have to join together to treat with, because society is in conflict”.
“We have personal conflicts, we have conflicts at the workplace, conflicts in the community. When we analyse the murder statistics you know what we find? Gang murders have gone down, [and] interpersonal crime resulting in murder is going up. It tells a story that personal conflict is resulting in the violent loss of life. So we have to, as a government, as a people — JLP and PNP, we’re going to have to join together to deal with this issue of violence,” he said, adding that this joint effort needs to involve the church.
Solidifying the leaders’ gesture of unity was an exercise in which they participated led by chair of the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, Rev Dr Elaine McCarthy, during which three generations of a family poured sand from small jars into a larger jar which was then presented to Holness and Golding. Both men then held the jar aloft together.
“In their hands are the responsibility of the nation. They are entrusted to be good stewards of his nation, to lead and to direct under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Rev Dr McCarthy said, explaining that the container symbolises the unity and the oneness required in Jamaica.
The event was staged by the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches in partnership with Power of Faith Ministries.