A struggling democracy

The democracy struggles if it is not allowed to breathe. It suffocates if the quest for renewal is stunted. Renewal of the democracy occurs when elected and selected representatives understand their roles and act honorably when there are foul ups under their watch.

An example of acting honorably in the democracy of which we are a part is a simple act of resignation. Resignation is important. It is a recognition by the elected individual that he has a duty to the electorate and if things fail under his watch, there is interpreted to be a concomitant failure on the part of the elected official sufficient to necessitate resignation.

Resignation is important as well as it serves as a marker to the next person assuming office that if he cannot reach a particular high water mark then he too must make way for someone who can, someone who must – if there is to be change and betterment for all.

Jamaica appears to struggle with this concept of renewal and accountability. Watching the debate unravel in social media following the non-resignation of Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health following the #DeadBabiesScandal has left me concerned again about Jamaica.

Here we have a Minister under whose watch one of the most damning audits on the health care service in Jamaica- is ordered by him and kept from the public by him. The Prime Minister to whom the concept of accountability is alien, foreign, and strange – reassigns Minister Ferguson to another ministry! He remains a member of the cabinet.

Some seemingly young people on social media have asked in the wake of Dr. Ferguson’s reassignment whether people are on a witch hunt!!!! These young people in whose hands the future of the country rests do not appear to grasp one of the cornerstone principles of any democracy – accountability. For them it is a JLP witch hunt and the PNP has fallen victim.

In some ways they perhaps should not be blamed for their politically immature and shallow views. On the other hand the expectation is that having access to social media and watching healthy democracies thrive, renew and refresh themselves, they would understand that even if a Minister does not know of an act, should it mean that he is not individually responsible for any failing as a result.

We should accept it and practice it. Perhaps it can and will take us to a new place in Jamaica’s infantile and struggling political democracy.


About emilyshields

Attorney-at-Law, Partner -Gifford Thompson & Shields; Broadcast Journalist; Host of RJR's Hotline - www.rjr94fm.com; Gunner Twitter- @emilymshields
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