When sorry isn’t enough

Hon Folks, I learnt much earlier in my career that in life mistakes are bound to happen but principled people avoid at all costs making reckless errors by being meticulous—crossing all the “Ts” and dotting all the “Is”—of their decisions and actions.

When the rationale and thought-process leading to inadvertent mistakes are explained, the person making them may not be absolved of the consequences but the damage to integrity is minimised.

Which is why I have a very low opinion of MPs on the back benches who simply said “sorry” when their constituents demanded to know why they helped shoot down bills on electoral reforms in the last sitting of Parliament.

The least they could have done is defend their action, explaining what larger good will, in their opinion, come out of the decision to ensure the status quo is maintained.

While there is no denying that the governing DPP acted in bad faith and bad taste by shooting down its own bills, at least we know the reforms were a threat to the very system that enabled them to easily get the trophy with a meager 36 percent of the vote in 2014.

They know APM, who is at the center of the enormous political and economic power associated with the governing party, could easily lose in the runoff if the 50+1 were to be used in electing the President.

Their fears were aggravated by the fact that the bills were tables hardly two months after DPP’s spectacular loss in the October 17, 2017 by-elections in which the governing party won only one ward out of the three wards and three parliamentary seats that were contested for. MCP scooped all the remaining five positions!

Dazed by such a huge and humiliating loss, it’s not surprising that DPP showed irrational behavior when national duty required it to table and own the bills on electoral reforms.

If the truth be told, the bills, particularly the one on the 50+1 system which requiring that the winner in the presidential race gets the mandate of the absolute majority of the people voting, diminished prospects for APM of “executive arrogance” fame to win 2019.

It would’ve been a cliff-climb for such an introverted and reclusive character to compete with the runner up who’d already have, to his/ her advantage, glaring failures and disappointments of incumbency to capitalise on.

While there are signs of the economy getting back on track, the fact remains that we’ve been reduced to the poorest country in the world by GDP per capita measure. Our human development index is also among the lowest.

On the other hand, corruption is rampant with no clear anti-graft policy and nearly half the population of 17 million is food insecure. In addition, for the first time ever, we’ve been subjected to a 25-hour electricity load shedding programme and yet nothing being done to contain deforestation, the root cause of our woes.

What a good soft-underbelly to kick APM has!

Back to the “I’m sorry” opposition MPs: they betrayed the people’s cause and their action could have a negative bearing on the outcome of the 2019 presidential election.

Do such people deserve to continue representing the people they let down in the august House? Is it fair to subject the electorate to a painful period of waiting for another round of parliamentary elections in 2019 before they can crack the whip?

Once-upon-a-time, there was in our Constitution Section 64 which empowered the electorate to recall their elected representatives in Parliament. The Judases deserve to be recalled.

Interestingly, the MPs repealed the Recall provision by Act No. 6 of 1995, barely months after the new Constitution was rolled out. They also consolidated they grip on power by again repealing a provision for the Senate, effectively making Parliament answerable to no-one.

Henceforth, we’ve seen bad laws being enacted without consultation. We’ve also MPs crossing the floor at will, totally ignoring section 65.

Ironically, while rigorously shielding themselves against the recall provision and the oversight role of the Senate, the MPs have laid down procedures for impeaching the President.

While hemming the hedges for the Executive authority is unquestionably good for democracy, I believe members of the Legislature too ought to be held accountable for the decisions and actions they make in our name and on our behalf.

Otherwise these folks will continue to mess us up and only say sorry when we demand to know why?

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