23 June 2011

Gambia : Jammeh’s Shortsighted Vision 2020

Original article by Sarjo Bayang
All inspiring leaders know how to create stirring dreams in the minds of their people. They know how to write speeches (or at least deliver them) and put together mission statements which, if made into reality, would revolutionise the lives of those whom they serve. Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has a curious ability to do just that. The problem is, Dictator Jammeh seems to have forgotten to deliver on his promises and goals.
Here’s his own special brand of nonsense, quoted from the State House website:
Mission Statement and overall orientation of Vision 2020 reads:
“To transform The Gambia into a financial centre, a tourist paradise, a trading, export-oriented agricultural and manufacturing nation, thriving on free market policies and a vibrant private sector, sustained by a well-educated, trained, skilled, healthy, self-reliant and enterprising population and guaranteeing a well-balanced eco- system and a decent standard of living for one and all under a system of government based on the consent of the citizenry.”
And here’s a brief look at what’s happening in reality:
Vision 2020 has absolutely no development plan to back it up. There are simply no measures put in place to implement these grand ideas.
Financial centre? The Gambia has, according to less in the state’s coffers than belongs to Yahya Jammeh himself. He is allowed complete freedom to claim development tenders and state financing. He owns many large business interests, and there is absolutely no good governance in place to hold him accountable for his wealth or business interests. Neither the Ministry of Trade nor the Ministry of Finance has any measures in place for accountability or the delivery of an improved economy- an economy which has been in steady decline.
Gambia is in decline- but Yahya Jammeh’s personal fortunes are increasing daily. His favourite publicity stunt is to “donate” resources back to the country he stole them from.
Tourist paradise? The World Tourism Council has released a report which is fairly damning: The Gambia is in the midst of a tourism decline. The industry, instead of becoming a mainstay for the country, is on the verge of collapse, and, with a depressed international market, is unlike to recover. Especially with absolutely no plans in place by Jammeh’s government to rescue this once key facet of the economy.
Trading? An Export-oriented economy? There has been no candidate remaining in the Department of Trade Industry, and Employment now renamed Ministry of Economic Planning and Industrial Development long enough to improve trade in any measurable way. Government interference has seen the cotton industry collapse, and Jammeh’s own personal farming interests have pretty much ruined agriculture- he’s still obsessed with stealing lands from Gambians in order to create “State farms”- farms worked on by his own soldiers and police force (for no pay), and farms from which he derives any profits. Even his mother runs farms. Essentially, his farms in every province represent Gambian agriculture- but that’s no national improvement.
Manufacturing nation? A short-lived development project at Kanifing Industrial Estate was, for the most part, a flop. So many people used their development grants to build residential units that fears of industrial pollution prevented any major industries from being established. Gambia imports pretty much everything, right down to basic commodities.
Free Market Policies and a vibrant private sector? Again, there are very few businesses which can cope with unfair competition in the country, and Jammeh’s personal interest in competing with almost every kind of business in the country has also left both sectors useless. Notably, however, the banking sector has grown- implying that there is plenty of money changing hands- just not through legal or formal business channels.
Well-educated, trained, skilled and enterprising population? Jammeh’s own children are educated by American tutors in a private classroom, and claims to be building schools- yet systematically targets intellectuals for arrest and torture.
Guaranteeing a well-balanced ecosystem? Gambia has extensively rich ecosystems, and, under previous regimes, there were measures in place to protect these. Jammeh is selling off land to Asian investors, and developing on land previously protected.
Decent standard of living for one and all? Poverty and hunger are rife in the Gambia. The entire country relies on the “generosity” of Jammeh for basics such as food.
Healthy nation? Jammeh claimed he could cure AIDS and other ailments. Despite his claims, there has been no medical proof, and civilians are left to hide their unhappiness at his failure to cure their relatives. There is no medical fraternity in the Gambia rejecting his claims. Jammeh himself uses foreign doctors for his family.
System of government based on the consent of the citizenry? There will be elections in November 2011- elections Jammeh expects to win. Of course, political opposition has been criminalized, so there is no viable opposition party. He insists that he must lead “for forty years”.
So it’s pretty obvious that according to his own standards, Dictator Jammeh has failed miserably to live up to his own vision. Of course, he has nine years left to do something about it, but by then he’ll have invented something else to parade as the next best thing.

Courtesy: africandictator.org

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