The legacy of National Heroes Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley, founders of Jamaica’s two major political parties and who both led the struggle for Independence has been completely betrayed.
Former Jamaica Labour Party Senator and present chairman of SuperClubs, John Issa, expressed this view at the “Eight Annual Bustamante Lecture” at The Courtleigh hotel on Tuesday night.
His son, Joe, delivered the lecture entitled “The Cousins’ Legacy Betrayed?” on his father’s behalf as Mr. Issa is off the island and was unable to make it back in time for Tuesday night’s function.
“Both major parties have contributed to the state which exists today,” Mr. Issa declared. “In fact, I am certain that they have because no other party has ever been in power.”
He said it is widely accepted that there has been political interference in the Constabulary Force. “We can all be pleased with the announced changes which should move us towards an independent police force that serves the people and not the ruling party,”
Declaring that 1993 is a significant anniversary year and one of decision for the Jamaican people, Mr. Issa noted that it is the 50th anniversary of the Jamaica Labour Party; the 55th year of the People’s National Party and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union and the 49th anniversary of the country’s first General Election held under Universal Adult Suffrage.
He said many consider Sir Alexander Bustamante the father of modern Jamaica who led the nation into Independence and raised the labour movement from childhood to adulthood and while doing so empowered the mass of Jamaica people with the authority to choose their government.
“As in so many other cases of paternity in our fertile land, the paternity of modern self-governing Jamaica is a subject of some dispute,” Mr. Issa said. However, he added, the other father in the paternity dispute was a first cousin of Sir Alexander Bustamante, National Hero, Norman Manley.
According to Mr. Issa, if Sir Alexander was alive today, there is a question which he would have liked to put to the National Hero. It is “Chief, are you proud of your child – independent Jamaica?”
As he proceeded with his lecture, Mr. Issa expanded on his question. “Are you proud of what we the people of Jamaica through our chosen leaders both the public and private sectors, have done with your legacy?”
He said Sir Alexander would not have minded the question being posed not only to him, but also to the man whom he regularly affectionately called, “my cousin Norman.”
Mr. Issa said the question would then become: “Have out political parties betrayed the dreams, trust and legacies of Busta and his cousin Norman?” This, he said, “is a question we have to ask ourselves and this is a question we have to answer with honesty.” He added that there were three accompanying questions that must be posed.
- “Did we win independence?”
- “Are we independent?”
- “Are we mature enough to govern ourselves?”
Mr. Issa said that both National Heroes worked in their own way to implant in Jamaica a democratic system based on Universal Adult Suffrage and a system of justice based on equality before the law. Not only that, Mr. Issa said, but the two worked tirelessly to develop an economic system which would create opportunity for upward mobility within a peaceful and just democratic state.
“With regard to how we have nurtured and developed our system of justice we can only conclude that our political parties have betrayed the dreams, trust and legacy of Busta and Manley.”
“We see democracy being practiced in a most imperfect manner. The trend in the ever-growing practice of election fraud has at an amazing rate accelerated in the last two decades. We have tolerated abuse and excused our lack of effective corrective action by saying that the overall result would have been the same anyway.”
“We have permitted areas to be developed in Jamaica where the democratic pre-requites of one man one vote and free and fair, free from fear, have become an impossibility.” He said it was only after the last election, when not only did the quantity of the abuse reach new record levels, but the quality of the abuse grew more extreme, that the Jamaican community began to be more concerned about the damage it was doing to itself.
“Those actions and the blatant disregard about being seen carrying out such an assault on one of the foundations of our democracy, without…giving a damn, make a very important statement – who has the most brute force will rule.”
Mr. Issa observed that only six months after the elections the incidents seem to have been forgotten. He issued a warning that “this absentmindedness will continue to destroy our economy as well as our democracy.”
Source: The Gleaner