Blatant disregard for constitutional rights

first_imgDear Editor,Gerrymandering is a rigging process which was used extensively in the past, and is again being used to manipulate the boundaries of an electoral constituency, so as to increase its constituency wins in certain areas whilst at the same time reducing the constituencies in the PPP-favoured areas. This is in effect showing A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in a favourable light as a prelude to the intent to rig the 2020 General and Regional Elections.According to a press statement made by Executive Secretary of the PPP, Mr Zulfikar Mustapha, “The Minister of Communities, with responsibility for Local Government and Regional Development, Minister Bulkan, issued the Municipal and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (Participating Local Authorities) Order # 19 of 2018, dated June 8, 2018. In this Order, he named “the name of each local authority, the total number of seats, the number of Councillors in respect to “proportional representation” component, and the number of constituencies and councillors in respect of the “first past the post” component. By way of this Order, he announced the creation of one new township and eight new Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, an increase of nine LAAS, bringing the total LAAs to eight.”Mustapha further stated that what was “most interesting in the list of the 80 LAAs identified in Order #19, the PPP discovered that the Minister reduced the number of constituencies by 16 in 14 existing LAAs, thereby making them the subject of re-designation with proposed re-demarcation by GECOM.”This is evidence of gerrymandering: increasing the NDCs by eight, one new township in the PNC-favoured areas, and reducing the constituencies by 16 in the PPP-favoured areas.What is even more blatant is the fact that there was no bi-partisan or non-partisan consultation. Furthermore, there was certainly no consultation with the citizens, although Article 13 of our Constitution provides for this participation by citizens and their organisations in the decision-making process, especially in this areas, which will directly affect their well-being. This is pure unadulterated dictatorship!Unfortunately, the citizenry seldom appreciates the trickery involved in the gerrymandering process, since they feel that the changing of constituents’ boundaries will not affect them directly. This is far from the truth! Citizens are most likely to witness the rigging process when the balloting process is being manipulated, and not by the gerrymandering process. They only appreciate its deviousness when the votes have been cast and the results are out.Through the gerrymandering process, the constituency lines are intentionally rigged and the lines or boundaries are drawn, as in this case, to place a majority of PPP supporters in fewer constituencies and the PNC supporters are placed in many constituencies. This will give the PNC more constituency wins and less to the PPP, even though the PPP would have gotten more votes at the Local Government Elections!In 2012, in the USA, the Republican won a majority of seats in the US House of Representatives, 234 as against the Democrats 201; and this would seem to suggest that the Republicans got more votes than the Democrats. But, sadly, this was not so, the Democrat constituencies got in excess of 500,000 votes more than the Republicans. This is what gerrymandering can do!The Coalition Government should be condemned for this blatant disregard for the constitutional rights of the citizens of our country. This Government must stop its progression to dictatorship rule!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region 6last_img

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