Sat | Sep 30, 2023

Letter of the Day | We need action, not a bag ah mouth

Published:Friday | June 9, 2023 | 12:40 AM


There has been renewed interest in the integrity and accountability of our political directorate, especially since Minister Nigel Clarke announced an exorbitant increase in the salaries of politicians. The call echoes much louder for an accountability framework to be put in place to assess the performance of our politicians, so that their remuneration can be so aligned.

It is very disheartening to listen to our political directorate as they make a big issue of signing the Leadership Code of Conduct. The justice minister has come out firing from all cylinders, questioning the jurisdiction of the Integrity Commission, insisting that they are not the agency responsible for good governance and accountability. The Government, through the utterances of Cabinet ministers Delroy Chuck, Robert Morgan and Marlene Malahoo Forte, are not focusing on the real issue. If you are for good governance and accountability, you owe it to the country you swore to serve, to state why you have not signed the Leadership Code of Conduct.

I fully endorse the statement by the Integrity Commission that “a failure on the part of any political leader, or representative to formally commit to the code, for whatever reason, will also signal to Jamaicans, the type of leadership and accountability that they should not expect from him/her”.

This code is recognised throughout the Commonwealth as the Seven Principles of Public Life. It guides ministers of government and parliamentarians in the United Kingdom, and in other countries which have adopted it, as to the standards by which political leaders should be measured and held accountable. Among other things, these principles speak to the ideals of leadership, honesty, transparency, accountability, and integrity.

The members who have not signed need to state which of the principle of governance they have a challenge with, and why. Instead of attacking those who are calling for accountability, our political directorate should demonstrate to us that they are about action and not just talk. They need to use the same sense of urgency that they use to get the public-sector unions to sign the new wage agreement to sign this Leadership Code of Conduct.

We welcome the naming of the committee by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to review the proposed job description of political leaders. What would show us good faith is if these leaders formally commit to the Leadership Code of Conduct, especially since they have been provided with the requisite training. Here is the code, what hinders thee from signing? We need action, not a bag ah mouth.