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Peep in yo’ own bowl – Pt2

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And the beat goes on…

When I heard those lyrics in the 70s/80s, I had no idea that they would become applicable to what many of us believe is our most important political process, the holding of general elections.

Yet that is what it has turned out to be since 1998; every election since then has left us frustrated, divided, protesting, boycotting, and going to the courts.{{more}}

So, in 2015/16, no big deal; do the thing with which we are familiar. But when do we move on, lift ourselves out of the perennial cycle of partisan division, forget selfish interests and put country before our party, place the future of the young ones above whatever egos are driving us?

That is why I thought of the peep, only that the situation has become so intense that maybe we ought to take a good, long stare in our bowls. Whatever the outcome of the court cases, or the futile, and sometimes puerile protestations, both major parties have to deal with the critical question of healing. How are we to bring our country, and especially our people together again? Are we into the fabled Humpty Dumpty mode?

In all this, while the conduct/actions of both parties are fundamental to the solution, it behoves the victors to lead the way. A decade and a half ago, we had the slogan “Together now”. The proffered olive branch was rejected and the slogan conveniently laid aside in the hurly-burly of our politics. But after all these years of striving for ascendancy, with all-too-many casualties among the working people, should we not be revisiting the concept? Not necessarily in any high profile way, but trying to heal the divisions?

We have had a grandly-named Ministry of National Reconciliation, but where are we in reconciliation after all these years? How do we reconcile the unwilling and hostile with the reluctant?

We missed our golden opportunity during the Constitutional Reform process, a process which could have been extended to a whole political reworking of the old neo-colonial system. There were many other opportunities as well, the potential pivotal point being in the relationship between civil society and government. It is a grossly misunderstood area, which those with little foresight could not comprehend, and those with the political power could not take time to deal with the mechanics of power-sharing beyond narrow partisan confines.

The relationship with civil society, in all its multiple shapes and forms, lies at the root of any attempt at national reconciliation. Clearly, no government can be successful without economic regeneration being a priority, but no party will be able to do it alone. Job creation, the flourishing of entrepreneurship, rests a lot on the initiative of the people, young people in particular.

So too must be the role of the private sector, the innovative, creative risk-taking ones especially. But there has to be a genuine partnership, based on trust, confidence and courage to face the future if we are to succeed. Glib promises about whether one would institute a Ministry or a Department for the private sector will not suffice; deeds will speak for themselves.

Other important issues must be addressed too, our attitudes towards women and facilitating their greater involvement in politics at the decision-making level, being prominent among them. The lip-service, akin to the colloquial “one-eye man is king in blind-man land” will not do. We simply have to embark on a programme designed to facilitate the greater participation and presence of women in the decision-making process.

Finally, the “peeps”, must begin to give less encouragement to the ‘bandwagoners’ so prominent on both sides. Our politics has been plagued too much by those self-seeking individuals who are only interested in personal advancement and who profit by fomenting personal and social conflict.

Both sides can begin by distancing themselves from these political sharks and listening and dialoguing more with the genuine organizations of the working people.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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