Of gatekeepers, watchdogs and ‘masters’

Is there ever a time when the solution is to ignore the gatekeepers, watchdogs and “masters”? My answer is a resounding yes. My homeland of Jamaica has been plagued by violent crime for the last few decades. Successive administrations have made attempts to curb the beast but to no avail.

Is there ever a time when the solution is to ignore the gatekeepers, watchdogs and “masters”? My answer is a resounding yes.

My homeland of Jamaica has been plagued by violent crime for the last few decades. Successive administrations have made attempts to curb the beast but to no avail.

Many a studies have been done, elite police squads have been formed and still my beautiful island home has lost some of her glory to criminality. Rwanda is a country that has rebuilt itself from the scourge of war.

A little over twenty years later and this relatively small African nation has paved streets, a growing economy, an increase in education levels and a stable government.

Why am I referring to these two nations to make my point other than the fact that one is my homeland and the other my current place of residence? Because these two countries have been moving in opposite directions since the 1990s but they have something in common: the gatekeepers, watchdogs and “masters” have missed the mark.

Jamaica is lauded for its five-year election cycle, its strong opposition and its wonderfully functioning parliament. Rwanda is criticised for its lack of a true opposition and its president getting an extension on his time in office albeit on the insistence of the population.

Rwandan academics lament that they cannot get published in many European journals or newspapers because of the “Kagame factor”.

That blacklisting because President Kagame has decided to run the country based on what himself and his team think is best, versus what the gatekeepers, watchdogs and “masters” have prescribed.

Jamaicans, people from a country with high crime rates, lowering academic levels and almost stagnant economic growth do not have these issues.

It may be because we have such big personalities or maybe because for years we have always said yes, we have almost bowed at the feet of the gatekeepers, watchdogs and “masters”.

In 2016, a new government was elected in Jamaica. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was swept into power over the People’s National Party (PNP). Since 1989, the JLP has only served as government for four years.

The new government is being led by a young man who has decided he’s going to do what needs to be done to halt the crime rate in Jamaica. To myself and many Jamaicans this is wonderful news.

We are tired of the news stories. For example the Jamaica Observer reported the following on January 11, 2016;

“The Jamaica Constabulary Force said the country had at least 1,192 slayings in 2015, a roughly 20 percent increase from the previous year. There were 1,005 killings in 2014, the lowest annual total since 2003 in this country that has long struggled with violent crime. Jamaica had about 45 slayings per 100,000 people in 2015, keeping it ranked among the most violent countries in the world. In recent years, the UN listed the island as having the world’s sixth-worst homicide rate. The World Bank ranked Jamaica in the top five in 2013.”

No analysis is needed to show how bad the crime situation in Jamaica has become over the last decade - the raw data speaks for itself.

Last week when Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, announced a new crime plan I felt hopeful. The plan seems to have a balance between halting the crime rates, while protecting the most vulnerable groups from mass human rights violations.

As a Jamaican I want nothing more than to feel as safe in Jamaica as I do in Rwanda.

But alas, the gatekeepers, watchdogs and “masters” are not happy. Once again there’s criticism about possible human rights violations for the criminals. There is more talk about what can go wrong than analysis of what can change for my homeland if crime is controlled.

How can the land of Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and Usain Bolt continue to be held hostage?

Will the Jamaican government do what is best for its people or allow the rules and agenda of others to take precedence? Should Rwanda make sure it has a strong opposition even if that means the slowing of its current progress? Me? I think not!

The writer is a development consultant as well as owner and operator of Forrest Jackson Relocation Services.

 

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