D.A. Jawo Has a Point
Monday, February 07, 2011
Veteran Journalist, Demba Ali Jawo, has a point. The Gambian parliament needs not apologise to the president. Even if it has to, it should not be in the execution of its constitutionally guaranteed mandate, which it did in good faith.
The manner in which the apex lawmaking body capitulated to the executive is indeed, as Jawo rightly put it, another national embarrassment.
The path that we have chosen to take at independence and up until today is the presidential system of governance. No system of governance operates in a vacuum. There are laid-down principles some of which could be compromised. But others must be wholly kept. Few among those principles that must not be compromised under the presidential system are the principles of Checks and Balances and Separation of Powers. This is meant for the main organs of government, essentially, the executive, legislature and judiciary to be a watch-dog on each other’s actions or inactions. This way, no individual branch of government will possess absolute powers.
We need not go further with other obliging principles. And our National Assembly Members need not to be taught these fundamental principles. But to remind them could help.
If the National Assembly can receive excessive directives from the executive, an equally parallel body in governance, what is the essence in electing both the leader of the executive, in the person of the president and a majority leader of the National Assembly, as representatives of the people.
Our governance structure needs a complete overhaul as unlimited power is apparently vested in the hands of the executive. The masses do not vote assembly members to become rubber stamp of the executive, but rather, to defend their interests.
But Alas! The National Assembly is being beaten by its own stick. For, in addition to being a centre for promulgating repressive laws, the Assembly has turned itself into a musical house where every member, especially those of the ruling party, must sing the praises of the president even where and when not necessary.
The president on the other hand has been removing and appointing nominated officials, including the Speaker, in a manner, unhealthy to the democratic life of the country.
For all these years, the executive has become accustomed to having its way with the National Assembly.
Going back to the apology, it further underscores the weaknesses of the Assembly, as the representative body of the people.
Jawo is right that it has once again let down the whole nation by its so-called apology. “
Indeed in the letter, the Speaker indicated that “...we consider ourselves your greatest constituency in the Republic.,” which is a clear indication that instead of being a parallel arm of government as it is envisaged in every parliamentary democracy, what we have in The Gambia is a legislature subservient in every respect to the executive.
“Obviously, the National Assembly as a parallel institution of governance owes the president no apology for whatever action they take. If indeed there is any need for an apology, they should do so to the electorate who put them there and not to anyone else. We expect the Members to renew their allegiance to the Gambian people and not to the president …” Jawo said.