Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gambians must fight the predatory power of Jammeh

It is the unchecked predatory power of Yaya Jammeh that has been a contributing factor to the current economic problems facing The Gambia.

Jammeh has been a dominate player in the Gambian economy which sets him apart from many heads of states in the world, perhaps in the same league as Angola; even Dos Santos has his bidding done through his daughter and other proxies.

Jammeh runs enterprises himself, together with family members, and on our dime.  He spends more time on his businesses than on the affairs of state, and when he does spend some time on official functions he devotes less time and pays less attention to details, unless it personally benefits him either financially, or affects his personal security.  He hardly shows up for work, and when he does he's known to be notoriously late.  His poor work habit is well known.

You cannot, however, tell that he's lazy by watching him conduct his 21-day tour of the provinces.  He's full of energy and enthusiasm, not because he is genuinely interested in advancing the interest and welfare of Gambians but because he sees great opportunity in opening up a new front in his quest to expand his business empire - an empire that expands the length and breath of the Gambian landscape that involves every sector, from agriculture to mining.

His recent craze is what he calls agricultural land development.  We call land speculation because we know better.  Vision 2016, we are told, is about rice self-sufficiency which would require a fundamental change in Gambia's traditional land tenure system.  In the truly Jammeh reckless fashion, he's about to make these monumental changes to the tenure system without the engagement of the services of expertise, ranging from land tenure experts, to agronomists to legal experts.  The concept probably came as a result of his numerous "ataya"sessions (Chinese green tea drinking sessions) with members of his security detail, most of whom are either primary school products or are outright illiterates.

It is evident that Jammeh has already decided that any "excess land", including, presumably those laying in temporary fallow, will be transferred to a yet to be formed Food Security Corporation.  But before it is formed, a Commission will be appointed to study his proposal and a cabinet sub-committee selected to monitor the activities of the Corporation. We have raised concerns about the treatment of the "excess land" that will be transferred to the Corporation, will it be held in escrow or will it be sold or leased to investors abroad.  We are totally opposed to the tampering of the tenure system without competent advise from international experts because Gambian experts have all been turned into refugees by an incompetent, corrupt and brutal regime.

Jammeh's party Secretary General revealed that the "operations" of the Food Security Corporation will not only be involved in rice but also in fishing and other crops.  Since the Corporation is still on the drawing boards, it's structure and mission will remain a mystery to Gambians, except Yaya Jammeh.  Will FSC be involved in production, processing or marketing or will it be another vertically-integrated entity like the infamous Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC).

We all know what happened to the Gambia Ports Authority and GAMTEL and Social Security - they have all been bankrupted by the Gambian dictator. Unless we stop the Food Security Corporation from being formed, and refuse to allow for the drastic transformation of existing tenure system that Jammeh is trying to implement, it will not only disrupt the social order but will change the face of rural Gambia for good and for the worse, and in doing so, bankrupt the Corporation in the process.  The predatory power of Jammeh must be curbed, and now is as good a time as any to start resisting these asinine policies.