I resisted the desire to write about Jamaican politics and issues of governance this week; until I read the Sunday Gleaner headline – “Trafigura Matter Back In Court” [Sunday, November 13, 2011].
As I read through the article, my spirit slumped … and I kept wondering – is there any hope for political transparency and sheer honesty in this country?
You can read the article at your leisure; but from where I sit, it is woefully inadequate that “The Gleaner was also shown a letter which [Robert] Pickersgill wrote to Trafigura Beheer explaining that it was in the best interest [for] both organisations to return the donation.”
While I am aware that there are no laws in Jamaica which prohibit a political party from accepting donations; the whole matter concerning Trafigura Beheer and its donation of approximately JMD30M to the then People’s National Party (PNP) administration smacks of ‘lack of transparency’ – to say the least.
My simple question – where is the proof that the monies were returned?
The PNP chides the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) on the unresolved issues of Manatt: who paid the law firm and where did the money come from? Yet, it has yet to furnish ‘adequate’ proof that the monies were returned!
There are fundamental differences between the two matters; and I would not seek to give the same political weight to both. However, what is paramount is that both issues bring into question the veracity of the leaders of the two main political parties. The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, leader of the opposition and prime minister at the time of the Trafigura matter, is being called upon to provide evidence in the case to be heard tomorrow. Former prime minister, Bruce Golding, demitted office without providing the answers to those questions which are still being sought. And, the current prime minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, has not addressed the Manatt affair since taking up the mantle.
On what moral authority do these two main political parties – through their leaders and candidates – presume to present themselves to the people of Jamaica as worthy of our trust and ‘fit and proper’ to represent us in the ‘honourable’ house – with these two matters (if nothing else) still hanging like a shroud over them?
A general election is almost upon us – here is a perfect opportunity for us (the people of Jamaica) to demand a better standard of leadership and transparency from those who would offer themselves for service to us.
Madam PNP – give us proof that the money was returned to Trafigura!
Mr. JLP – who paid Manatt and where did the money come from?
Walk good, ‘til next time …
* Sunday Gleaner Article: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20111113/lead/lead4.html
* Robert Pickersgill, at the time of writing, is the Chairman of the PNP