bandera-de-gambia

Lafia Touray la Manju

Dear Readers,

In my previous article, I made a retraction of my earlier claim that Madam Ida Jallow-Sallah was a Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and issued an unreserved apology for this error after it was clarified to me by my sources That claim, which was retracted, was not even the gist of my statement but part of a demonstration of how as a wife of an opposition leader, Madam Ida Jallow-Sallah was able to pursue a top career at the Ministry despite the ever prevalent culture of political persecution at work place in the Gambia. The thrust of my statement remains unshaken despite a rejoinder from the PDOIS Secretariat.

PDOIS offered no disagreement with my statement that Madam Sallah was a high flyer at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. They actually confirmed it but wouldn’t explain how she managed to do that in the face of this very unpleasant and of course illegal but prevalent practice in The Gambia.

Their supporters claimed that Madam Sallah was able to defy the odds because she is a highly qualified person but when I cited the case of Dr Boro Suso who is also a very highly qualified person with the same level of academic qualification as Madam Sallah, they lost steam and ran into hibernation.

Now, if you think that was a bit cheeky, you probably haven’t met PDOIS’ Administrative Secretary. He is “Touray  Manding Morri” just like myself though. I guess that makes him my brother but that is a different issue.

Suwaibou Touray maintains that he was out to clarify things for me and to the readership and so when I did the decent thing by retracting the “permanent Secretary” claim, I thought PDOIS would be wisely enough to admit to things that we all know are inherently true, in the interest of clarity but hell no. Not only did they endeavour to make everybody believe that all Gambians can pursue a top career in the civil and public services of the country provided they got the right qualifications and regardless of their political views, association or nexus with key opposition figures. They also want everybody to believe that there are no victims of political persecution at workplace in the Gambia, and that the practice is just my own fantasy that never exists in the Gambia under this present regime.

We all know these claims are bonkers and a plethora of deception of the highest order. Therefore, I will not waste my time on them. However, I am concern by the kind of postulations PDOIS is making in support of their wild claims including the suggestion that the law on employment in the civil and public service in The Gambia is highly respected by the APRC government. If people are to believe these, I know no one does, there is no doubt that President Jammeh’s approval rating will shoot through the roof. Does PDOIS want to tell us this is why Jammeh had 72% in the last presidential elections?

PDOIS’ Propensity to Spin and Distort

When Halifa Sallah and PDOIS were accused of selling the draft constitution to the Gambian people in a referendum without telling them the down side of that document so that voters can make an informed decision, PDOIS did not have a defence but went on to scapegoat Ousainu Darboe for arguing the same constitution in court as if that was a culpable act of approval on Mr. Darboe’s part. Thus, I am not surprise that they are resorting to the same tactic to dampen criticism of how Halifa Sallah was indirectly rewarded through his wife for doing Yahya Jammeh a great favour by keeping the opposition divided and in a state of perpetual bricking.

Contrary to PDOIS’s claim, my information is that it is UDP’s national Congress that elects people to the party’s national executive and that Dr. Boro Suso is not one of the people elected to this body either at the UDP Brikama Congress of 1998 or in the Jarra Soma Congress of 2010. He is however, a strong member of the party and advises the executive and the party leader on policy. This is the first point.

Secondly, a university anywhere in this world is always independent of the government and should be governed by its own rules and policies. That is why the UTG has a council and a Senate whose role is to provide governance and academic policy for the UTG independent of the government. It was on this basis that Dr Boro Suso was abled to work for UTG and it is the same reason that made both Halifa Sallah and Sidia Jatta to be associated with the university at some point.

The UTG was not supposed to be an integral part of the government or under its control. However, what is clear is that Dr Suso sacking resulted from government interference into its affairs. He was kicked out after president Jammeh made pronouncements that he owns the university and that he was not going to allow any opposition member to remain a staff there. If this is not political persecution, then PDOIS must provide us their definition of political persecution at work place.

Dr Suso filed a case of unfair dismissal at the employment Tribunal but the magistrate refused to hear him despite a ruling from the High Court that he has the jurisdiction. Dr Suso’s file is still gathering dust at the Kanifing Magistrate Court and PDOIS is fully aware of this. Yet, they would  ask me to provide a list of victims of political persecution at work place in The Gambia as if the practice does not exist. This is insensitivity of the highest order.

Dr Suso’s consultancy work with the UNDP is not even a contract of service with The Gambia government. Thus, it makes me wonder why PDOIS continues to trade on the ignorance and the gullibility of its supporters like this.

Amadou Sanneh has a business to run and a workforce to maintain. He is a professional accountant who is in the market for anybody who can afford to pay for his services irrespective of their political leaning or affiliation. All the work he carries out for his clients including the government are based on a contract of service, not a contract of employment. That means he is a self-employed contractor. Thus, unlike Madam Ida Jallow-Sallah who was an employee at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and under a contract of employment, Mr. Sanneh cannot be taken to be an employee of the government of The Gambia by any stretch of imagination.

Mr. Sanneh is undoubtedly a well sought for and top class accountant whom anyone would love to have to edit your books. But if anyone gets carried away by his quality services to the extent of wanting to employ him as a staff, I think I know the answer he will give you. He is a self employed accountant whose wife lost her job in the public service because of his involvement with the UDP. This is the incontrovertible fact.

It makes me wonder how far PDOIS is ready to travel just to shrug-off legitimate criticisms of the reasons behind Madam Ida Jallow-Sallah’s out of odds high flying career at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. The truth thought is that no spouse of an opposition leader in The Gambia is able to keep a career in the civil or public service like she did, and there is no way she could have done that without her husband doing a great favour for Jammeh in the opposition front.

I find it grossly insensitive and profoundly shameful that PDOIS is using the disability of a particular woman’s child just to score cheap political point and to provide cover for Halifa Sallah’s complicity in entrenching the dictatorship. This woman stayed in the country for years after she lost her job to political persecution, and here we have PDOIS telling us cock and bull story. HELLOOOO!!!!, she is a victim of political persecution at work place and her disabled child is not a political football!!!!

PDOIS’ Waffling

My attitude has always been to ignore PDOIS’ propensity to blow their own trumpet for I always recognise that to be a trait of delusion. On this occasion, however, I could not resist the temptation of putting their comment on Kemeseng Jammeh in its rightful context.

Shortly after the 2002 parliamentary election which the UDP boycotted, all the opposition parties except the NCP were invited to the US to discuss the possibility of an alliance. At this meeting, there was an agreement in principle that an alliance should be formed and parties must begin working on the modalities as soon as they return to The Gambia. It took them a long time because they could produce a MOU that was acceptable to all. It was in this period that a Bye-election was announced in Jarra West and the opposition parties were already in alliance at least in principle if not on paper, and it was in the same spirit that PDOIS offered collaboration with the UDP in Jarra West which was not refused. My information is that the Young man who offered to be a PDOIS candidate in this Bye-Election was not aware of the fact the UDP had ended its boycott of elections, and was accordingly advised. Most of the signatories on his nomination form are UDP supporters.

The UDP Leader, in the same unity spirit, also cut his holiday short in the US to return home, at his own expense, and campaigned for Halifa Sallah in the Serrekunda Central Bye-election of 2005. He also travelled to Wuli and Upper Saloum with UDP supporters to campaign for Sidia Jatta and Hamat Bah respectively at his own expense. The UDP also gave the same support to an NRP councillor in Upper Saloum.

Nobody seems to be aware of Halifa arranging a vehicle for UDP supporters in connection to the Jarra West Bye-election and even if he had done so, it must have been in the spirit of the coalition that was already agreed in principle among the parties for he would have had no reason to do that. One of the important essence of a coalition is to pull resources together. That is why nobody is hearing the UDP talking about their contributions to Sidia and Halifa Sallah’s Bye-election campaigns of 2005.

PDOIS is doing a lot of waffling about Halifa Sallah’s arrest in connection to the witch hunting saga but what they haven’t told the readership on the witch-hunting issue is that the UDP Leader and others also travelled to Kiang to urge people there to resist any arrest associated with the witch hunt since the practice was not only illegal but also amounts to abduction. Their mobilisation efforts was only thwarted by the “no show up” of the witch hunters in kiang.

The UDP has produced more Minority Leaders than any political party in The Gambia since the birth of the second republic and we know the privileges that come with that position.

In terms of renumeration, Kemeseng Jammeh used to get only D1000.00 more than the rest of the elected members and he does not have an official car. He uses his own; a very small blue car. Alhagi Momodou Sanneh also never had an official car. He uses his own car; 4X4 Nissan Patrol. So what is this business about Halifa not using an official car?? Who said he is entitled and which law states so?

Halifa’s election to Parliament was only a fluke that came about as a result of a UDP boycott. That is why he lost his seat in the subsequent election that the UDP participated.

I will not go about listing the number of UDP supporters who suffer illegal arrest and detention or to highlight the number of times the party leader himself suffered police and NIA harassment, illegal arrest, detention and at least one trump-up murder charge because those are established facts already in the public space.

The Charge of Tribalism

It was claimed that people have contacted PDOIS and stated that I am against Halifa Sallah because I am a Mandingo tribalist. I am not actually bothered by that because I know that is typical of PDOIS’ Mandinkaphobic elements.

People of all tribes will freely take to public fora and criticise Lawyer Ousainu Darboe without any fear of being labelled ‘a tribalist’ because he is a public figure. All that UDP supporters do is to register their strong disagreement. However, when a Mandingo do the same in respect of Halifa Sallah, he/she is called ‘a tribalist’. If we are to go by this logic, clearly a wollof assimilated Tukulor who is vehemently opposed to any coalition rallying behind Lawyer Ousainu Darboe, a Mandinka, is also a tribalist. If PDOIS’ Mandinkaphobic elements disagree with this, then they must review the litmus test they use to determine who is and who is not a tribalist.

I find it particularly astonishing that PDOIS would find it compelling to demonstrate that Halifa is not a tribalist. In my experience, and without prejudice, when a white guy walks to you and claim that he is not a racist, he is most likely than not, a racist for otherwise he would not have any reason to tell you he is not a racist. If PDOIS wants to tell us that the statement attributed to Halifa Sallah regarding how he prefer Yahya Jammeh over Lawyer Darboe as president, was borne out of tribal disdain, they must go ahead and do so. I have not insinuated anything neither did Tuku Jallow, the UDP Yai Compin behind the leak, accused Halifa Sallah of tribalism.

I still maintain that the solidarity message PDOIS sent to the UDP in commemoration of its 18th year anniversary is not sincere but merely a ploy to ward off criticisms particularly from UDP supporters like myself. Sooner or later, I will be vindicated.

Lafia Touray la Manju

Ends

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