Alagie Saidy-Barrow

Alagi Saidy-Barrow: How Useful Is Partisan Politics To Gambia?

It is only the African that continues to obediently march to a drumbeat that’s not meant for them and does not fit the character of their nations. Most other countries that have been colonized have adapted their governance to their realities. Not us. We simply accept the systems the colonialists FORCED on us and hardly ever bother to question the efficacy of any of these systems. One such system is what we call a “multiparty democracy”, where we have many political parties contesting elections every five years.

In The Gambia, we’ve had what we call “multiparty democracy” since 1965 but at no point have we ever stopped and asked how this so-called multiparty democracy has benefited us as a people.

What are the advantages of this multiparty system to our people considering our unique population size, geography and ethnic makeup? What are the disadvantages of multiparty politics considering the same factors? Given how our politics have been tribalized, how has partisan politics exacerbated enduring tribal and class chasms in The Gambia? More importantly, how has partisan politics contributed to the advancement of those of us immured within this colonial space?

When you tell a politically-affiliated Gambian that you don’t believe in partisan politics as it is conducted in The Gambia and that we should consider disbanding political parties or dismantling and reevaluating our way of politics, it comes across as some form of abomination!

Many of us have been conditioned to never contemplate alternatives. We mindlessly accept what we have and resist any questioning of what obtains. You would think our Singapore nightmare, I mean dream, has already been realized.

Some think if you’re against Barrow, then it is a must that you support one of the opposition parties. Talk about the binary fallacy. For such folks, the only alternative is party politics, and so you hear such simpleminded conclusions that “there are no independents” or that “everyone supports a party” that they’re somehow afraid of revealing. The gutsiness of self-projection!

Apparently, many of us have never heard of non-partisan democracies or nonpartisan elections. We think that all elections must be conducted through political parties.

Many of us have never heard of direct democracies where the people vote on issues directly. Because we think there’s only one way, we never consider dismantling any system to examine its efficacy. We never consider hybridizing any of our systems according to our unique needs as country.

I’m not saying a nonpartisan system is the answer to our myriad of unending political and ethnic chasms, all I’m saying is that since most of us profess to believe in a God, that God gave us brains to think for ourselves and solve our problems.

And one way of solving our problems is that we shouldn’t continue to rely on the brains of others in the hope that they’ll deliver us to nirvana. We must not continue to operate one way and never question if the way we are operating is benefiting us or not.

So I ask the question again, how useful is partisan politics to Gambia? Do we need political parties as they are? If so why?