The Need for a Presidential Debate: Class politics is the Answer to End Tribalism, not tired cliches

The debate will be a big step forward in Gambia’s electoral politics while the event will represent an obvious advance in the country’s democratic struggle. The issue which will be the first to come up, the line of response of all the aspiring candidates must be along “equitable distribution of wealth”, “equity in allocation of resources”, “equalize development in all areas”, “an all-inclusive government”, “implementation of the Constitution” “an audit of the civil service” among other tired clichés. Why are these answers wanting?

To end tribalism, a political party that seeks to lead workers to power will have to surface. There are over quarter of a million workers in Gambia and such a party will have to be armed with a clear Political program aimed at improving the working conditions of workers while at the same time addressing the issue of starvation wages in Gambia.

Such a party will also have to appeal to the army of unemployed youths who are tired of living in poverty and who are looking for a way out of their frustrations, embarking on illegal migration at their risk. This party will have to appeal to thousand of students and peasants by introducing politics geared towards mobilization of poor Gambians against the rich wealth grabbers who use tribalism to divide the poor. In simpler terms, the problem of tribalism can only be ended through class politics as opposed to ethnic politics

A good example of class politics that can work in Gambia and where tribalism has been cooked up repeatedly is during those moments when Teachers, Doctors, Nurses or University Lecturers will have to resort to strike action to force the ruling class to address their grievances especially on the issue of starvation wages.

During such moments of struggle, the affected workers will seek redress from government, not as members of different ethnic groups.  A workers’ government is at the best position of distributing the national wealth equally because this wealth is produced by these workers. Revenue that runs Gambia and which is supposed to be distributed is collected through taxation but the key problem is that currently, the creators of wealth (workers) are not involved in its distribution, a responsibility which has been taken over by the vulture class through an election process in which there is no Party that represents the interest of the creators of wealth.

Once Gambians begin to see themselves as members of different classes, and once a party is in place to represent their interest, tribalism will die a natural death because politically speaking, any Gambian walking the streets is either a worker, a student, jobless, a peasant, bourgeoisie, petit bourgeoisie or a member of the ruling class (vulture).

If the thieving ruling class can gang up by exploiting “ethnic voting blocs” as bargaining chips, workers can also gang up and link with other exploited layers in Gambia to seize power. The reason why Gambians have not yet reached this stage in the democratic struggle is because class politics has not yet attracted the attention of the electorate.

From Hamza HH Sowe,
Vrije University of Brussels,
ERASMUS, International Relations

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