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JAM | Jun 25, 2023

Makhulu | Big distrust of politicians: What can be done?

/ Our Today

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Politician in Jamaica have generally not been looked upon favourably but that seems to be more so these days.

Corrupt, self-serving, oblivious to the needs of the people is all to often heard when describing them.

There are a few who enjoy a good favourability rating, Dr Christopher Tufton, Lisa Hanna… but in the main Jamaican politicians seem to be frowned upon.

Even the Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s popularity seems to be waning although that might have something to do with his duration in office and the lack of progress made with Jamaica having the second lowest income per capita in the Caribbean.

What has brought Jamaican politicians under disdain recently is the decision to increase their salaries in some instances close to 200 per cent.

Some say that only happens in a banana republic.

Recovering from the COVID pandemic with rising global inflation and higher interest rates, this seemed ill-advised.

Jamaicans now are assessing the productivity and character of their politicians and are finding them coming up wanting. Voter turnout continues to fall and apathy is most disturbing. Young people should very little interest in going into representative politics choosing instead to take comfort in Instagram, Netflix, KFC and Krispy Kreme.

Something must be done to raise the favourability of and trust in Jamaican politicians

At a time when teachers, nurses, police personnel and other civil servants are rightfully demanding pay increases not exceeding 20 per cent, the Government decides to pay politicians triple digit increases. The consequences of this lack of vision is now manifesting itself.

The Government may have calculated that it has over a year to ride out the blow back before it goes to the polls and with the 24-hour news cycle this will all go away. Fair enough.

Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen (right), delivers the 2019/20 Throne Speech under the theme ‘In Partnership towards the New Prosperous Jamaica’, at the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament on February 14, 2019. (Photo: JIS/File)

But it is worrying when citizens have little faith and confidence in their leaders.

People say how come politicians in Jamaica live such lavish lifestyles with an abundance of assets which are not commensurate with their salaries.

With the current salaries rises, a lot more people will be entering politics. They now have an incentive. Particular attention must be paid to the calibre of the entrants.

There is a trend now of calling out politicians for corruption and levelling accusations at them. Senator Aubyn Hill has noticed it and made mention of its at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing.

He is right when he says the citizenry and the media cannot cast stones if it is not justified and there is no evidence to substantiate accusations.

But it also means both the Government and Opposition can ill afford any scandals and revelations of dastardly deeds. That would inflame an already incendiary situation where people are only too ready to hang politicians high.

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