Last Thursday was Election Day and I voted. First time voter and I am glad I did. Now, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won the Jamaican General Elections. It was a small margin of victory of 33-30, yep just three seats made the difference and will shift the tide. The electorate’s decision was made by less than half of the 1.8 million Jamaicans who were eligible to vote. And so regardless of how swiftly things change or if they remain the same, with just new names and faces at the helm, Jamaicans are frustrated.
The situation I saw last Thursday in my home community (I had not been home since May 2015) there was next to nothing done in infrastructure re-development, for decades the roads and public buildings have been deteriorating. The minor roads have become tracks and the main roadways are littered by cater potholes. These issues are compounded by lack of water, which unlike the rest of Jamaica is not a seasonal inconvenience to be tackled in the dry months of June, July and August. No. In St. Mary, where I grew up most of 2014 and 2015 there was little access to piped water. Therefore, on election, while I walked through my community on my way to polling station six, I heard echoes of frustrated curses at the pointlessness of voting. There were pockets of individuals in high spirits clad in green and orange but among them, in far higher numbers were persons simply standing by observing. They did not vote.
In general the low voter turn-out, is as a result of people’s indifference to the democratic processes. Many Jamaicans believe that those who seek public office, only do so to advance themselves ― the fact is that a Member of Parliament salary is one of the top paying jobs in the island. And so the matter comes down further to mistrust. People do not trust those who operate within the political spheres, individuals do not believe that the politicians will truly represent their communities’ interests and address the needs.
Persons elected to represent the people of Jamaica must work to address this mistrust. They must seek rebuild relationships with their constituents. In order to do so, the elected officials must being to act as servants of the people, be visible in community, listen to the issues that face persons daily and work to address these matters in an open and equitable manner that is also a sustainable solution to the issues.
I hope that the promises made during election the campaigns are kept. Additionally, I really wish that in the midst of implementing new programmes, that the systems already in place that do in deed work are left as they are in service of the people of Jamaica. In the past, changes in Government has meant a reset in all things, that is, an uprooting of everything, the good, bad, broken, ineffective and the perfectly functional. This is my hope, that those elected, will see that there needs to be a different approach in the way the business of the country is handled. I believe it is possible to have, the JLP-led prosperity initiatives being built on the progress made by the past People National Party (PNP) administration.