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Parliament, whose power house?


by Oscar Allen 23.OCT.09

In the SVG Constitution Bill 2009, Chapter 2 section 5 on page 8 of the newspaper edition begins thus: “The people are the true political sovereign of the state; power belongs to the people.” Note that the “people” has a small p. The section goes on to explain that: “The people exercise their sovereignty by the process of democracy through their Representatives and Senators in the National Assembly.”{{more}}

This section 5 of the proposed Constitution suggests that power belongs to the people who then put it in the hands of the elected Representatives and selected Senators for them to use. As we examine “Parliament” we are bound to ask the Constitution this question, How far does Parliament take away power from the people and how far does Parliament empower the People? Whose power rules the house of Parliament?

By definition, Parliament includes the house of / member of the National Assembly, along with the President (Governor General) who completes the making of law by notifying or stamping bills passed in the assembly. I will tend to use the term “Parliament” in the common way to mean the assembly with and without the head of State. I want now to check on two ways that parliament takes power further away from the people.

First of all, Parliament chooses its own heads without giving the people the right to elect them. When a person becomes Prime Minister, it is members of the assembly / Parliament who support him/her enables him/her to become Prime Minister and head of Government. In an even more hurtful way, the new President, like the present Governor General, is not elected by the people to his/her position as formal head of State. It is members of Parliament who choose the President. (At present, one Member of Parliament, the Prime Minister, chooses the Governor General). I want to make a general point here. Many changes proposed in the Constitution bill are changes in form only, not in substance, but they are presented as momentous and path breaking. From the point of view of the power of the people, if one Parliamentarian chooses the Governor General, and 27 parliamentarians choose the President, the substances of the matter is this, the people have no voice in choosing their Head of State. The form changes from one to twenty seven, but the substance remains the same, the power is taken from the People. A parliament chooses the boss; the people nod and say “Yes, Boss”.

One other way by which Parliament takes power away from the People is through capturing and enslaving the people and parliament in political party compartments. In many cases, in West Africa, during the developed period of transatlantic slavery, the Europeans bought African captives to be slaves, using guns, houses, cheap jewelry and other trinkets. These they exchanged for Africans who became slaves. I see political parties kidnapping people, too, with modern guns, houses and trinkets and enslaving them politically. Charisma, projects, policies become not the expected output, the normal performance of a government, but rather, a political party’s currency, presented in exchange for souls, for vote, for uncritical love and adulation. If we examine the ongoing “Referendum campaign”, our people critical minds are muzzled by a barrage of party proposals. In fact, there is so widespread a stifling and a dumping of the real intellectual resource and leadership of the people that an uneven burden is placed on a small community of thought outside the prison camps. The party dominated Parliament and Executive become an effective institution for mental enslavement and disempowerment.