TODAY’S politicians don’t seem to understand that Bahamians are no longer impressed by their promises, yet they continue to throw out the attractive-sounding bait still believing that there are enough voters out there of borderline intelligence to bite.
Seemingly the “Black Friday” march, which brought together more than 1,000 Bahamians from all walks of life, has not yet penetrated their political skulls. The message they should have understood by now is that Bahamians are not only fed up, but have suddenly discovered, in the words of their leader, lawyer Ranard Henfield, that a united people are “more powerful than the people in power.”
“Tears flowed as thousands came together in the most racially, socially and politically diverse display of solidarity and national pride seen since Independence,” said Mr Henfield as he announced plans for a second and even larger march on January 10, Majority Rule Day.
The major promise that swept the PLP into power in May 2012 was Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis’ promise of 10,000 jobs within the PLP’s first year in office. He claimed that the PLP had already had encouraging success in attracting investors.
Not only did the PLP fail to deliver on its promise but this month 2,000 Baha Mar employees were made redundant, not to mention the others who had given up good employment attracted to a dream of a better future at Baha Mar - billed as the largest and most luxurious resort in the Caribbean. Many of these Bahamians with no future prospects, are either still looking for employment, or have had to take whatever they can get to keep their families together. For example, we know of at least one accountant who is now working as night security until he can scratch his way back into his profession. Yes, there has been much disappointment, broken dreams and disillusionment in the past four years and many Bahamians are bitter. They are tired of the promises.
In July 2012, FNM Leader Hubert Minnis took Mr Davis and his government to task for its unfulfilled promises. While admitting that he would be pleased to see the PLP government’s employment goal fulfilled, what went wrong, he claimed, was that the Christie government had chosen to make jobs a major promise based on hopes of foreign investments that were only in the primary stages of discussion.
“The difference between the FNM and the PLP,” said Dr Minnis in 2012, “is that we are results oriented. When we’ve made announcements, it’s because we know things will come to fruition. The announcement they made about jobs is only based on the initial discussions they had regarding foreign investments.”
Yet, six nights ago, Dr Minnis, no longer FNM Leader in the House, was back on the podium with his own promises.
He has promised that if the FNM — presumably with him as leader — is returned as the government he would produce 1,000 entrepreneurs a year. A tall order, but short on fulfilment with the leaderless confusion in which the FNM now finds itself.
We would advise Dr Minnis — as he prides himself in heading a “results-oriented” party — to first sit down with the party’s House leader and FNM House members, especially the dissidents, and get themselves united as one. If not, it is not a united party, and without unity it is going nowhere — so, like the PLP, he can make no promises on which he has any assurance of delivery.
Our readers are quite correct in taking us to task in a statement that we made in our editorial of Wednesday, December 14 – “Time for Opposition to get its Act Together” – we stated:
“In the 2012 election, although the FNM won the popular vote, the PLP won the election with the majority of seats. The DNA cost the FNM its victory, because, although it got no seats in the Assembly, DNA votes turned the tide, making it possible for the PLP to pick up the DNA’s lost seats.”
The only incorrect statement was that the FNM won the popular vote. What is correct is that the FNM and DNA’s votes together won the popular vote over the PLP. And so when the votes of the DNA, Constitution Party and Independents were added to the FNM’s numbers, the PLP were defeated by the opposition parties.
(PLP– 75,815; FNM -65,633; DNA-13,226; Bahamas Constitution Party 96; Independent - 1,177). Now our readers can do their own additions and arrive at their own conclusions.
After the 2012 elections, it was obvious that the DNA, led by Branville McCartney, a disaffected FNM, had helped give the government to the PLP.
Everyone recognised that going into the 2017 election the cooperation of the DNA was needed. And so intelligent negotiations were necessary, which meant that both sides not only had to be reasonable, but prepared to be flexible in the dice-throwing of give-and-take.
Mr McCartney’s assessment of those negotiations is interesting, and gives further indication of what qualities Dr Minnis lacks as a leader. (See story on page 1).
The talks between Dr Minnis and Mr McCartney started sometime in May. They even met several times before the FNM’s July convention, with meetings continuing after the convention. However, there was no give or take on two main issues, one of them being that Dr Minnis wanted Mr McCartney to disband his DNA and join the FNM. Last week Mr McCartney said that the talks with Dr Minnis came to naught. On the other hand, he said, the talks with Mrs Butler Turner were much easier. He said they focused instead on national goals and she was “very much on the same page” as he was on national issues.
“Discussions (with Dr Minnis) going on from that seemed to have come to a standstill, a road block, knowing full well that we want what is good for this country but having those discussions were, seemed to have been, difficult to say the least.
“The discussions with (Mrs Butler-Turner), we are on one accord with regards to where the country ought to go. It was very easy discussion for the most part,” Mr McCartney said on Tuesday.
At least this major hurdle has been crossed for the good of the country. It’s now up to Dr Minnis. Is his desire to be prime minister more important than achieving what will benefit The Bahamas?
For the past four years, under his leadership, the party has been divided. Now that we are learning more about what has been going on behind the scenes we understand why.
We hope that when the new year dawns, Dr Minnis, who has much to offer his party and the country, will put country first, and step down. Either that or give the election to the PLP, which more and more Bahamians, even former staunch PLPs, say they no longer want.