Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why is Jammeh on a social engineering crusade

Jammeh with his ADC
When Jammeh's young and inexperienced Information Minister blurted out a widely known and publicly held view that Jammeh was on a "social re-engineering crusade" in a lame attempt at defending the dictators ill-fated and short-lived diktat that every woman in the civil service must wrap a head tie around her head to "cover her hair", he (the Minister) was only publicly joining the choir in singing a popular helm.

Jammeh seized power not because he wanted to simply to replace a government that he thought was "corrupt and lacked transparency, accountability and probity" but was one that promoted elitism by employing exclusionary policies designed to maintain the status quo at the expense of people like him and his ilk.

Like many military takeovers before his, Jammeh promised a new, more open and just order where the fortunes of the less privileged, exploited class who grew up in unfinished, fixture-less brick "mansions" (his mother lived in one) usually owned by civil servants and well to do businessmen and women, will be reversed.

But unlike many other coups, the neophytes who constituted the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) and led by Jammeh were unable to conceal their hatred, not only for the political class but for the members of the civil service class whom they hated even more.  So rounding them up in their offices and driven around town in open trucks just for the heck of it was a standard form of public humiliation.

The residents of Banjul, as a sign of approval, cheered and chased these trucks on their joy rides across town in glee and jubilation as Jammeh and his band of renegade soldiers dispensed their own version of commutative justice in reverse. They were delivering their promise to the people that those who were enjoying in the previous regime will suffer in the new order. That was the commencement of Jammeh's crusade to reverse the prevailing social order that he hated so much that led him to seizing power illegally.

Jammeh learned very early that his strong desire to mold The Gambia in his image cannot be achieved through democracy - a process that is slow and fraught with uncertainties.  A faster and unfettered route is through the accumulation of autocratic and dictatorial powers which he succeeded in accumulating with the help of the military and a rubber stamp National Assembly, in spite of the assurances he gave to Gambians at the time of the coup that he will not introduce military dictatorship.

This blog post is a first in a series of posts that will look at the various attempts at and components of Jammeh's social re-engineering crusade, and whether he was succeeded or not and the implications of moving forward in the reconstruction of our country once we rid the Gambia of the dictator.