Patronage has long been associated with politicians and political parties. It appears that this is certainly holding up, especially regarding the recent appointments of the loyalists, surrogates, cyber-warriors, and militants of the Tactical Alliance Government of President Adama Barrow in anticipation of and preparation for the next Presidential and General Elections in either 2019 or 2021 respectively.
Political patronage or spoils system jobs are used by certain politicians who, after winning an election, give government jobs within the civil service and diplomatic service, award mega contracts, and issue diplomatic and service passports to supporters, friends, and relatives as a reward for working toward victory and as an incentive to keep working for these politicians to retain their office.
The appointment of political party militants, surrogates, and supporters of the Tactical Alliance Government of President Barrow, including those who are specialists in social political blotting, media fundamentalism, and political propaganda, is the unstated declaration of the opening of the 2019 or 2021 Presidential and General Elections. Since most Gambians do not pay attention to the political trends, they are easily startled and surprised by these things, including those that have done nothing to unfollow their ‘fixed’ laws and timing.
Political patronage rewards party loyalists and militants with attractive, high paying jobs in both the civil service and the diplomatic service. However, most of these appointees are recruited for an exercise or job they know nothing about or have any competency or experience in. Ordinarily, they will not be told what they are being recruited to do and most will not discern this at all but overall job description, job specification and terms of employment will be centered around political propaganda and reward.
These political party loyalists or militants are recruited under a contract of MADR (mutually assured destructive ‘reaction’), for 2019 or 2021 electoral and political scheming! Similarly, because of NCFA (no clear future ambition) and PFAA (possible future appointment as an aide), they will (in anticipation and aspiring anticipation for those who do not enjoy patronage yet) work round the clock – dig, fight, and drag anyone into the mud – to receive similar ‘rewards’.
In the next few weeks and months, these appointees will be handed down scripts that are not really in consonance with their designations. For instance, they will rove social media platforms to mob and unleash cyber militancy or act as bullies against those who dare take to ‘contrarian escapades’.
It will be a big show. Other opposition politicians and activists will suffer rebukes and literary mortal combat. The sudden surge in the temperature of social media weather recently is a signal of the new vigor.
But this is not the concern. The most important note to take out of it is that it marks, officially or unofficially, the opening of the 2019 or 2021 political campaign in preparation for the Presidential and General Elections.
African politics, elections for the next General Elections, starts right after the victory speech: the transition committee, first appointments, and setting up of cabinets. Aides, surrogates, foot-soldiers, and political pit bulls are ‘remembered’ as deserving ‘reward’, which ordinarily comes around this time.
Because these natural developments are not stated or written down, incumbents always beat their opposition in terms of preparation. By the time the opposition gets its senses and starts, incumbents have already dominated the political machinery to the exclusion of almost everyone.
Most Gambian politicians do not play politics according to the rules of the game. Political space is narrowed to those who have no business in politics. Politicians across party affiliations and divides are appealing to the other party in power. Most do not play principled politics in the struggle to control, dominate, and exploit public office. Then, it is beyond speculation that the rewards after victory are usually based on political loyalty, commitment, and patronage! It goes without saying that those that made heavy sacrifices are left out.