I acknowledged the efforts of men and women of the past who fought hard to ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands was able to have a ministerial form of Government in 1976 resulting in the formation of two major political parties in the Turks and Caicos Islands namely the PDM and the PNP (previously referred to as the PNO).
However, based on my independent observation, the current two party system is not healthy and suited for these small Turks and Caicos Islands. This two party system has destroyed us a people by creating extensive division among us. If the truth be told, many of us are so blinded by our allegiance to our parties so much in that we are able to justify the actions of the politicians even if it means their actions are affecting us adversely. In the past, we were divided between the Turks Islands and Caicos Islands primarily because the economies of Turks Islands and South Caicos were better than those of North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Providenciales. Providenciales is now the main economic hub of TCI and so we have seen relations improve among the islands but of course we still have a way to go.
I am convinced now that our division in our country is based on the political machinery in TCI and not which island you are from. Almost everything we do in our country centers around blue and yellow. The majority of people we associate with is due to their political affiliation. Families are divided over politics. Families were killed over politics. Friendships are being destroyed. Lies are being told. There is an increase in hatred and jealousy.
Supporters of each party think their party is better than the other. They think they have the best idea and if the truth be told, most of us know what is needed for our country but we need to have the right people with a plan to enact what is needed. There are some capable men and women on the PDM ticket and there are some capable men and women on the PNP ticket. They are not better than each other. In fact there is no philosophical difference between the political parties. This was confirmed recently by leadership of both parties. So why is it that we cannot get a group of men and women together to lead this country without associating themselves with a political party. In the United States, however, there is a fundamental difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats advocate for more government regulations and intervention while the Republicans advocate for a lesser role of Government in the society as the republicans believe government intervention hinders free market.
In the Business world, corporations have objectives to achieve in order to satisfy the shareholders. A lot of the corporations are headed by a Board who appoints a CEO to run the organization. The CEO is given the objectives and must have a plan to meet the objectives of the Board. However, the CEO needs a team that consists sometimes of a Financial Controller, Human Resources Manager, an Operations Manager and a Sales Manager. These jobs are advertised and the CEO recruits his or her master team to work with him or her to achieve the objectives of the corporation. Their performance and the ability to retain their jobs are based on achieving those objectives.
Why can’t we apply the same principles in the administration of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government? Abolish the political parties completely. Yes as human beings there will be friction but the team knows its purpose and will not be making decisions because of political affiliation but rather based on a national policy plan.
We need to develop a national policy plan with a timeframe of completion for the various areas. We will review it and update it every 2 or 3 years or as necessary. This national policy will become our objectives like that of a corporation.
Have candidates run individually to become the leader of the Turks and Caicos Islands. These candidates must meet a specific criteria to become a leader similar to the criteria that a corporation needs for a CEO. The candidate cannot put himself forward unless he meets the minimum criteria. Next let us have individuals run for ministerial positions namely Minister of Tourism, Minister of Education, Minister of Health, Minister of Works etc. However, in order to run for these ministerial positions, one must meet the specific minimum criteria as well. Once the persons put their names together then the people of TCI will vote for whom they think the best candidates are. Alternatively we can have the leader appoint the ministers based on the criteria established. Yes initially we will still be caught up with PNP or PDM but eventually it will fade away. Yes there will still be a little division due to the fact that we are humans but if we are mature enough and realize we can only run if we fulfill the timeliness established in the policy, I think it will unite us overall and the division among us will be alleviated. If the individuals do not achieve the objectives in the national policy plan, they should not be allowed to put their names forward to run in the subsequent election. Of course, the objectives must be measurable and an independent body should assess the fulfillment of the objections prior to any elections.
I further think we should eliminate the constituency representatives. I know the purpose is to ensure the electorate gets representation for their area but the electorate get can get representation in many other ways. In place of a constituency representative, each island or constituency should have a Board of Directors or a National Council and budget allocation should be made for each island to meet the financial needs based on a needs assessment for that constituency or island. The Island council can either be appointed or elected. These island councils should replace the posts of the district commissioners in the islands. The island councils should be empowered to make decisions for the constituencies as long as it complies with the needs assessment of the constituency.
I hope by now you understand what I am suggesting and why I am suggesting it. I know many persons may say why write this article because it will never happen. In order for a change to take place, we must do things differently. If you continue to do things the same way, you get the same results. Therefore we must change the way we do things to get different results.
I will illustrate some examples below as to why The 2 party system is not working in our favour.
- For example a contract may be awarded fairly to a contractor for a capital expenditure or any other expenditure in TCI who happens to be a support of the sitting government. There was a change in the Government, and the new government now is stalling the start of this capital expenditure because of the political affiliation of the contractor. The new Govt will justify its actions by saying they need to ensure the contract was awarded fairly and to ensure they are getting value for money. At the end of the day, the people of the Turks and Caicos suffer because the capital expenditure never materialize, the contractor suffered also by encountering major financial setback because he or she went ahead and recruit individuals. We have now created further animosity among ourselves because a contract that was rightfully awarded to a local was denied or delayed because of political persuasion.
- Another example is our caliber of candidates. Because of our political system, anyone can put their names forward to run as candidates on a political party when we know some of them are not competent to carry out the role. However, because they in an area that is well known to be a stronghold of a party, they win, but in the end, our country suffers. After the election is won and because the choices for capable ministers are so limited we are forced to make persons ministers who cannot perform. This creates problems and setbacks in our country.
- Another example is the appointment of Board members, we appoint individuals to Boards based on political affiliation. I believe persons should be appointed to Boards who are knowledgeable and can make significant contribution in that area no matter which political party they support. Supporters should not be rewarded positions on Boards because they campaign for the party.
- Another example is the constant personal attacks on individuals because of their political affiliation. What is ironic is that as soon as the attacked individual decides to switch and join the next party, he or she is the best person ever but because he or she was with a particular party previously , he or she was the worst person ever. However, that individual is the same person no matter which party he or she joins. Jane Doe is Jane Doe. John Doe is John Doe. You cannot change Jane or John Doe DNA or personality because she/he joins a particular party. The parties do not have a DNA or certain characteristics. The parties are the same but yet we crucify each other so badly solely because candidates made the choice to join a particular party that we do not like.
- Another example of division is that some politicians of the political parties are double minded. They claim they care for all no matter what one’s political affiliation is but in reality the actions of the politicians indicate they are very much blatant with partisan politics. As a result, opportunities are denied, people are hurt and divided because progress appears to be one sided.
Let us get rid of the political parties and make an effort to unite us so that we can take this country forward. We cannot move forward if we are divided. The physical development of our islands will be in vain if our people are not united. While we are busy fighting with each other, the expatriates are moving forward because they have develop a united with other expatriates especially if they are from the same country.
Some say the solution is to change the constitution. Yes we need an improved constitution but you can have an improved constitution and still not be united. An improved constitution may just empower your decision making but it will not unite us as long as we have this current 2 party system.
At the end of the day politics should not be about catering only to the people that supported you. It should be about enacting policies and legislation to improve the lives for all. We need to transform our minds and stopped being caught up as PNP or PDM. We say one party is corrupt and the other is not. We say one is for the people and the other is not. We say one party is more intelligent than the other. We say one party is more godly than the other. At the end of the day, our labeling of parties and individuals are creating hatred, jealousy, bitterness, envy and division in these small Turks and Caicos Islands. Quite frankly the labeling of the parties is a myth. There is corruption on both, there are people that care for the locals on both parties, there is intelligent people on both parties. There are Christians on both parties. There are sinners on both parties. Some would then say let us vote for the better of two evils. If we choose to have that mentality, our problems will continue as stated above.
My wife and I have 5 children and each child is different , even our twins, so how can one say that all candidates in PDM are of the same nature and all candidates in PNP are of the same nature. They are not . They are all different on an individual basis so stop attacking and let us break up this PNP and PDM party and have a group of capable men and women united to make lives better for all us in the Turks and Caicos Islands.