A WIN FOR DEMOCRACY
The intent of the Supreme Court,I do not believe, is to undermine Parliamentary Democracy. Whilst I do not yet have the ruling in its entirety, one can draw necessary inference from the substantive prayers in the suit that has just been adjudicated upon that what the Supreme Court sought to do by this ruling is to ensure that the principle of checks and balances continue to thrive in our democracy and further safeguard any form of excessive legislative powers.
This ruling is infact a hallmark of the principles of “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” being practiced and embraced by our young democracy. Contrary to popular beliefs, this recent ruling, cannot possibly allow for parliamentary democracy to be stifled. The Supreme Court by virtue of being part of the Judicial arm of government can only interpret laws. The vested and inherent constitution powers to make, amend and repeal laws shall forever remain within the domain of our National Assembly.
I believe that it is high time that our National Assembly members rise up the occasion and stop being lazy and perform their foremost duty which is to legislate laws; laws that will not only safeguard and secure their interest but laws that will allow for their continued independence, sustenance and proper functioning.
What we have seen for the past four and a half years, in The Gambia, is a very lackadaisical National Assembly who spends more time deliberating bills from the executive in futility. I dare say futility because, most of the time, those bills are passed and they become law. The arguments and debates amounts to nothing but an academic exercise and further entertainment to the wide social media and television audience.
On the other hand, we have seen the Judical arm of government tirelessly working to and expand and develop our jurisprudence. Can we say same for our National Assembly?
How many private member bills have we seen tabled in Parliament since our National Assembly members were elected nearly 5 years ago? How many of these bills were to the benefit and welfare of the ordinary Gambian? Sad to say but this present parliament, to my mind, have been near useless and more of a stumbling block to meaningful development than any other arm parliamentin our country’s history.
The executive has been given a free pass and have mostly gone unsupervised due to the incompetence and lackluster attitude of our legislative arm. Sad to say, but it seems the checks and balances principle that we know is a different one being practiced in The Gambia. It is a non revolving check that is mostly a one way system because it is only the Judicial arm of government that is seen to be pulling back the boot straps of both the executive and the legislature and constantly keeping them in check.
After 4 and a half years in office, we would have loved to see a more pragmatic and robust legislature that, in any case, the public would have supported in instances of such nature. However they have failed woefully and thus cannot ask for more carrots.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is very clear and one that is based on very sound reasoning. Whilst the legislature supervises the budgetary needs of the executive, who supervises their own allocation to self? Does this not undermine the principles of democracy as we know it and does this not create avenues for abuse of legislative powers? I leave you the reader to draw a conclusion on that.
We look forward to another National Assembly composition in the very near future and one that will live up to the tenets and ideals of a thriving and vibrant parliamentary democracy.
But these ones “daal”, let them go in peace to sin no more.
By Melville Robertson Roberts