Friday, January 9, 2015

20 years of dictatorship is enough

Gambian dictator Yaya Jammeh

We are republishing this piece that first appeared on 29 October 2014


Yaya Jammeh seized power in 1994.  During his twenty-year rule, he has killed, exiled, made to disappear, tortured, maimed and then pilfered the state treasury.  He did not stop there.  He mismanaged a once emerging economy, dismantled the democratic institutions, drove private businesses into the hands of our neighbors and raise taxes to prohibitive and unsustainable levels, including a very punitive value-added tax (VAT) that no one can understand while still maintaining the sale tax instead of repealing it, as was promised. He, of course, never keeps a promise, ever.

He and his family live a luxurious life with mansions in Washington, Paris and Rabat financed by the Gambia taxpayer while the rest of Gambia live on one dollar a day.  During his 20-year rule, the incidence of rural poverty rose from 50% to over 70% and rising.  600,000 or 2/3 of Gambians no longer can afford three square meals a day, of which 200,000 are malnourished children, according to UN estimates.

Jammeh has succeeded in dismantling a civil service was once the pride of not only West Africa but of Africa as a whole.  All those who manned the service have either been killed, jailed, exiled or retired, representing hundred of thousands of person-years of training and experience which will take another two decades to rebuild to its previous qualitative strength.

Elections are rigged by the 'Independent' Electoral Commission and ballot boxes stuffed by the ruling party poll watchers with extra marbles stuffed in their pockets just in case. The opposition parties are limited to eleven minutes of television time during presidential election campaign while Jammeh dominates the airwaves 364 days 23 hours and 49 minutes of the time during an election year.  the opposition get zero minutes on television during non-election years.

It is time for the opposition to say to Yaya Jammeh 'enough is enough.'  They should borrow a leaf from the Burkinabe opposition parties and their supporters and demand that Jammeh step down now. At least, he should be barred from taking part in any future presidential elections.  20 years of dictatorship is enough.