Eyewitness: Changing…


…the Constitution

“Constitutionalism” declares there must be explicit rules governing the distribution of power in a society and these become the supreme law of the land. The democratic imperative of the “rule of law” is about EVERYONE being governed under the constitution. Now it should be obvious that no constitution can cover all the contingencies that’ll confront a nation as it evolves historically. Even after creative Judges eke out decisions by bending and stretching extant rules!! And that’s where “constitutional amendments” come into play: the constitution itself describes how it may be altered.

After 200+ years, the USA’s first written constitution is still going strong…but their amendments have become more famous than the original! Who hasn’t heard about their “First Amendment right to free speech”? Anyhow, after the rigmarole the PNC put us through following the NCM and the March 2020 elections by stomping all over the constitution, lots of folks are insisting on a new round of “Constitutional Change”. Who can forget the prior round between 1999-2000 after the PNC rioted in the streets and brought the PPP government to its knees?

And THAT should be an object lesson to us. At that time, the PNC kvetched that the powers of the President were “too extensive” and they, the Opposition, didn’t have enough. This was quite rich seeing that the said powers were created specifically by and for Burnham in the entirely NEW 1980 constitution!! But we must ask one question: did those dozens of constitutional changes in 2000 help our political situation? And the answer is a resounding NO!! The violence continued till 2008 and is being threatened again!

And the point, dear reader, is you can have all the rules in the world – including constitutional rules – but if the leaders who’re expected to obey those rules refuse to do so – here the PNC – then why keep changing the rules? The constitution isn’t necessarily the problem – it’s the PNC leaders! The proof is playing out even as we write. PNC leader David Granger’s being accused of violating the rules of his PARTY’s constitution and he in turn is accusing his Executive of doing the same!! If the PNC won’t even obey rules, they made for themselves, can we expect them to obey rules made by a committee including their bete noir, the PPP?

Who’s kidding whom?? Now don’t get your Eyewitness wrong. He’s all for constitutional changes, per se. As he said, things change and rules have to be changed to deal with new dispensations. But we can’t be changing those rules every time the PNC stamps its feet. They must first demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law.
Like accepting the elections results, unless it’s overturned by the Courts!

…the energy mix

When your Eyewitness saw the notice in the papers that the Govt is calling for bids to go ahead with the Amalia Falls Hydro Project (AFHEP) he remembered that old ditty which advised, “You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.” Way back in the day, then President Jagdeo had made AFHEP the centerpiece of his revolutionary Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). He’d arranged the funding – with a still extant Norwegian chunk – a world class contractor, a road to the site and a Power Purchase Agreement with GPL.

So what happened to this 165MW a project that was both green and necessary for our development? The PNC and AFC, that’s what! Having obtained a parliamentary majority at the 2011 elections, they threatened that if they were to get into office, they would cancel the project!! And, of course, the developer Sithe explained that this stance increased the political risks to the project to an insurmountable level and they quit.
Let’s get it on!!

…the narrative

The GTU’s now saying that Pres Ali announced schools will reopen in September come hell or high water (or a COVID 19 explosion). And they now say they won’t agree until “safety protocols” are agreed to?
Holding the Ministry hostage?