DNA Leader McCartney on “Campaign Contribution & Voting Prostitution”

Branville McCartney

Nassau, Bahamas – It has been a little more than one month since the elections and both the PLP and the FNM are talking about how the other party was financed or what was done financially to get votes. The PLP has said that the FNM bought votes or, simply put, gave people money to vote for them. If this is indeed the case, this would be tantamount to bribery, with the persons accepting the “bribe” an accomplice to the crime. In this regard, I would encourage Minister Keith Bell to take the necessary legal steps, if he has the evidence, to bring this matter before the courts and prosecute accordingly, not only the person or persons “bribing”, but those alleged voters who accepted the bribe. Commissioner of Police Greenslade ought to ensure that examples be made so that we can now start getting the electorate cognisant of consequences of accepting payments for votes. Your vote is significant. It should not be prostituted away!!  Many persons around the world do not have that right but for some in the Bahamas it would seem that for a few pieces of silver the integrity of the vote can be compromised! I say prosecute!

The FNM said that the PLP accepted financial contributions from allegedly unsavoury characters.  It is said in the community today that persons who supported the PLP are now “cashing in” and “want their fair share”. One month is long enough, they say, to do what they (the PLP) had to do and now it is time to rock and roll!!!  The chickens have come home to roost, in other words, and now the PLP must make good on their promises to them. But they, those contributors, should remember that a promise is a comfort to a fool!! Ah…when you dance with the devil!!! Can this now be the reason for so much security for the new government??

If the two scenarios mentioned above are correct, then you have the case of the pot calling the kettle black. Both parties are wrong and certainly this lends to the Bahamian people insisting that there be campaign finance reform.  If you look at history, for the most part, the same arguments regarding party finances from both parties appear after each election. This is nothing new.  It is the same ole, same ole, just a different election. And we, as a people accept it. I think we deserve better because a party can become a government not because they are the best for the country, but because they had the money to give out ‘at the right time” (as a voter told me a few weeks ago).  That is a shame. We, as a people deserve better and must move beyond this type of scenario occurring in the future.  We ought to learn from our mistakes…”fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me”.

The Democratic National Alliance is calling on the governing party, the party where the Prime Minister said that he is the bridge to the future, to bring legislation forthwith for electoral finance reform. This would ensure that in the future the scenarios discussed above would not repeat itself or at least not to this extent.  No doubt, there can be undue influence on the political system by unregulated donations from private sources, foreign investors and/or large companies. When parties receive secret donations to get elected, the question of returning the favour must inevitably be in their minds on taking office. Consequently, the interest of those who are less fortunate is not taken into account.

Indeed, the process of contributions to political parties should be more transparent and the amount of monies parties are allowed to spend ought to be determined. Disclosure of donors should be made mandatory and penalties ought to be enforced should parties not comply.

As seen by the PLP in 2007 and the FNM in 2012, there should be a prohibition on the use of the country’s resources by incumbent governments during political campaigns.  The giving of contracts right before the election seems to be the way things are done by the PLP and the FNM. The proof is there and the PLP and the FNM are guilty of this!!!  In this regard, we, as a people, moving forward, should have a fixed date for elections and we in the DNA are insisting that the governing party make good on their promise during the election campaign to establish a fixed election date as soon as possible.  If this is not done, I could almost guarantee you that what the PLP is complaining of regarding the FNM issuing of contracts right before the election…they will be doing the same thing…issuing contracts for votes.  Let’s move beyond the same ole…same ole.  As Bahamians, let’s demand more of our government.  We have the power to do that.  Remember… “That the power of the people is greater than the people in power”.