Njundu Drammeh

Dear Njundu,

Yesterday we could not agree on the motion “Politics has a season”. You vehemently argued that since it is not elections time, our political parties should down their political tools and allow the Government to work.

“We are done with elections. It is time to work now, to develop the country. Unfortunately, every day is a political rally, a campaign here and there. These rallies are distractions for the Government”, you vociferously argued.

For you politics has a season and it is out of place to do politics out of its seasons. You huffed and puffed about this and blamed the opposition parties for this state of affairs.

I disagreed with you, with your propositions and the very premise of your arguments. I reiterate them here again, so you clearly understand my position on this motion.

Firstly, you equate two things that are similar but not the same, the one merely a subset of the other, the set. You equate “Politics” (whether with the small “p” or capital “P”) with “elections” or “electioneerring; the former has no season, the latter has.

Electioneering is part of politics but politics is more than elections or electioneering. Certainly one way of knowing if a “polis” is democratic or not is to ask if it conducts periodic elections.

Secondly politics, the art of governing, of the relationships between the arms of government, of the role of the people in how they are governed, of the reconciliation of various interests in the society, cannot definitively be an “event”…. What concerns all of us, of how we are governed, of the laws and policies which affect our lives, of the rights we enjoy in the polity, of the powers the arms of government wield over our lives, of how conflicting interests are reconciled, of the relationships we have within and without the country, cannot be limited to a season. It is a process without an end, a constant struggle, a perpetual game of power and power struggle.

Thirdly, I asked you “who should stop politics and work?” You fumbled but managed to say “both the Government and the opposition parties”… I cannot understand why the Opposition parties should stop “politics” or even why the Government should. May be the Government should and concentrate on implementing its policies and programmes, the reasons why we voted it in power. If not to deliver services and better our lives. We cannot expect that to be the role of the Opposition parties.

I told you an opposition party is a “government in waiting” and its role as “chief critic” of the Government is to find fault with everything the Government is doing and provide alternatives to the people to secure their votes and confidence.

There can be no season for such a role. Daily, the Opposition must do everything to win our confidence, must politik to show the Government is inefficient and only it or they can “deliver” the people. It would be suicidal for any opposition party to wait until a month to elections to go to the win. Remember that it is the Government or the party in power that has the resources, powers and incumbency, and the stacks heavily in its favours.

Politics is a daily affairs, even if elections have seasons. In governing us, the Government engages in politics. In proferring saleable alternatives to the Government’s policies and programmes, the opposition engages in politics. In demanding for our rights and holding duty bearers accountable we engage in politics. So politics is a daily struggle.

What we must demand is for the Government to get to work; the opposition to give us credible alternatives; and us to hold both accountable. But we must not expect the opposition parties to keep mute until the next cycle of elections come.

And we must become more interested in politics than ever before. We cannot leave matters of life and death in the hands of politicians only. And since we live in a polity, matters of the polis must be everyone’s concern.

Yours Sparring Partner
Saffiyoungba