The Prime Minister sees crime as the key issue that will decide the next election. However, one observer believes the Christie administration has fallen down on a number of promises, not just crime reduction. Tribune news editor Taneka Thompson explores the issue.
LAST week Prime Minister Perry Christie boldly announced that the next election will be about crime and that the electorate will judge his government on its handling of the issue at the ballot box.
He appeared to suggest that some time before the next election, his administration would find the panacea to root out the violence that permeates throughout New Providence – something that it has not been able to do for the past two and a half years in office.
Well, if all things remain equal, come 2017 the Progressive Liberal Party will be booted out of office by voters who are not only afraid to go outside, but equally as terrified of armed thieves and murderers storming their homes to wreak havoc.
“The opposition must now recognise that the economy is not going to be a subject of debate for the next general election and so they better focus on my efforts to solve the crime problem, because I think from that point of view the people of the Bahamas would know that things will be well,” Mr Christie said last week, according to The Nassau Guardian.
“We are going to challenge the young people of this island, as more and more jobs become available, not to be distracted by whatever crime offers them. And we are going to be much more aggressive in dealing with those persons who are out on bail and being able to reach them, not only from a law and order point of view of convincing them that there is a better way.”
Mr Christie’s declaration that crime is the main issue voters will care about exposes his disconnect with the Bahamian public who routinely call for transparency from this government, are burdened with a higher cost of living and feel disfranchised by wealthy foreigners or political cronies.
As former Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash put it yesterday, the Prime Minister is “delusional” to think that the only issue his administration has fallen down on is crime.
According to Mr Cash, when the next election comes around voters will be smarting from the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT), and a lack of job creation for young Bahamians, among other things.
“The Prime Minister is clearly delusional with the suggestion that the only issue that the next general election will be fought on is the issue of crime,” Mr Cash said. “If you put crime on the back burner, the issues front and centre for the Bahamas is he is essentially taxing more Bahamians into poverty with the poor implementation of VAT – people aren’t going to forget that. “They have done a woefully dismal job in creating job opportunities for Bahamians and the thousands of young Bahamians who supported them on the basis that they believed in Bahamians will not forget they were abandoned in favour of wealthy PLPs and foreigners whose pockets they could pick,” he added.
“The social decay continues almost unabated because this government has been unable to make the tough decisions necessary in the programme they heralded the most, Urban Renewal. So the idea that the election is going to be fought on crime (alone) has to be delusionary because front and centre for Bahamians in addition to crime are the daily life issues that prevent them from a good existence.”
Mr Christie’s words on crime will likely haunt the Prime Minister during the next election campaign, because if the past few years tell us anything, it is that this country needs more than lip service, but true social reform.
Turning crime into an election issue helps no one except the self-serving politician who sees a way to capitalise on the deep-seated social decay that leads our young men and women to violate others and their property.
This tactic helped the PLP win the last election. Many of their candidates, along with Mr Christie, pounded their chests, extolling the initiatives a PLP government would roll out to wipe out the criminal inside. While in opposition, the PLP used every opportunity to castigate then-Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest (rightly so in some cases) over a rising annual murder count and numerous acts of bold, heinous crimes.
The rhetoric was good enough to whip the electorate into a frenzy and the violence that gripped the nation from 2007 to 2012 was one of the major things that toppled the last administration.
But after all those promises, crime continues unabated nearly three years into this administration’s term.
More of the same
The Prime Minister’s pledge last week of a tougher stance on crime in 2015 might have provided some comfort if we had not heard it all before.
On December 30, 2013 – after a special Cabinet meeting on the issue – Mr Christie unveiled more than 20 initiatives his government would implement to “escalate” its fight against crime.
In August, shortly after his press secretary Latore Mackey was fatally shot, Mr Christie said his government had plans to go “back to the drawing board”.
At the end of October, just after a brutal home invasion and murder of a Blair resident, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage said the National Security Council of the Bahamas had agreed to new measures on crime.
However, he refused to tell the press what those initiatives were.
But despite all of these pledges, blood continues to spill on our streets, with the violence catching the attention of international agencies and press.
Last week the website Business Insider said this country qualified as an “armed conflict zone” according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition due to high rates of gun violence.
The report said that according to data from the United Nations’ and the WHO’s 2014 Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, the Bahamas ranked 11th out of 20 of the most homicidal countries in the world.
Up to last night the country had recorded 118 homicides for the year, according to The Tribune’s records. Meanwhile daily crime reports from police are filled with accounts of armed robberies, incidents of shooting and stabbing, sexual assaults – the list goes on.
While we would all like to see a reduction in crime and a complete turnaround in the mindset of the thugs who hold New Providence hostage with their sadistic acts, it would bode well for the government to do less talking and pandering on the crime issue and actually fulfil its election promise of making its citizens safer.
Otherwise, the Christie administration’s view will be a lot different after May 2017.
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